Don’t let the lazy days of summer be an excuse to lie around—kick up some fun with these great outdoor games for the whole family!

Disc Golf

Set your course! Play disc golf using regular plastic discs, and make up the course as you go. First choose a safe target such as a large tree trunk or an empty picnic table. Each player gets her own disc and takes turns trying to hit the target. Keep track of how many throws it takes to hit the target. (You may want to write down the scores.) Once everyone has hit the first target, choose a new one. Keep playing until you’ve completed nine rounds. Remember: in golf the person with the lowest score wins.

Tea Time

In this challenge, two players compete against each other at a time. Place several golf tees in a line about six inches apart. Set up a second line of tees a few feet away from the first. Place a table tennis ball on each tee. Each player gets a spray bottle and lays on the ground a few feet behind a group of golf tees. On “Go!” each player uses the spray bottle to knock the balls off the golf tees. The first player to hit all her targets wins and challenges a new player. Keep playing until you have a champion.

Balloon Race

For this challenge, give each player a wooden spoon and a water balloon. Make a starting line and finish line. On “Go!” each player quickly walks to the finish line with a water balloon balanced on her spoon. If someone drops her balloon and it doesn’t break, she places it back on the spoon and keeps going. If it breaks, she returns to the starting line to get a new balloon and start over.

Splish-Splash Race

It’s a splashy race to the finish! Punch a hole in the bottom of a paper cup. Thread a length of string (a few feet long) through the cup. Repeat with a second cup and string. Hang the strings alongside each other. Race each other two at a time by using squirt bottles to move your cups from one end of the strings to the other.

Treasure Hunt

Explore the outdoors and see what you can find. Before you begin, divide into pairs and give each team a piece of paper and a pen. Brainstorm a list of nature items that all teams must find (see example list). Set a timer for five minutes. Gather as many of the listed items as you can. When time’s up, regroup and share what you found. The team with the most items from the list wins. Try assembling what you’ve found in a cool collection or arrangement and take photos of your creations. (Bring some construction paper or scrapbook paper for a backdrop.)

Example Treasure Hunt List

  • 2 blades of grass
  • 4 wood chips
  • 1 heart-shaped rock
  • 1 fallen flower petal
  • 2 different leaves
  • 3 pinecones
  • 1 clover
  • 1 fuzzy dandelion
  • 2 shells
  • 3 acorn caps

NOTE! Many parks have rules about collecting natural items, so be sure not to pick live plants or bring items home. Leave them behind for the next person to discover!

Luck of the Draw

Each team gets a stack of playing cards and places it facedown in front of them. On “Go!” the first player from each team turns over a card. If the card is a number, it’s the partner’s turn to flip a card. If it’s a face card, the player has to follow these instructions for her card before her turn is over:
Jack: Do 10 jumping jacks.
Queen: Do a yoga pose and hold it for 10 seconds.
King: Hop on one foot 10 times. Switch and hop on the other foot 10 times.
Keep playing until you use up the entire deck of cards. The team that gets through its deck first wins.

Jumbo Ring Toss

For this version of ring toss, use pool toys for the rings and each other for the pins. Be the thrower while your partner is the pin—then switch. The “pin” should face away from the thrower and hold her arms above her head. Then the thrower uses an inflatable inner tube or other lightweight ring toy and tries to toss the ring onto the player’s arms.

Water Balloon Catch

Divide into pairs and play catch with a water balloon. But there’s a twist: Before you begin, everyone uses sunscreen or soap to make her hands slippery. Start about a foot away from each other and toss the balloon back and forth. If you don’t drop it, everyone takes a step back and you throw the balloon back and forth again. The team that goes the longest without dropping its balloon wins.

Balloon Badminton

Make paddles by attaching wooden craft sticks to the backs of paper plates using duct tape. Use a badminton net or a volleyball net. If you don’t have a net, make a line on the ground. Pair up with two players on each side of the net. Using a balloon, see how many times you can hit it to the other team without letting it touch the ground. If the balloon touches the ground on the other team’s side before they can get it, your team gets a point. The first team to 10 points wins!

Adapted from American Girl magazine, July/August 2017. American Girl Publishing, 2017. All rights reserved.