This week is National Backyard Games Week!
So to celebrate, perhaps we should all take some time to enjoy fun and games in our back yards.
83% of us are urban dwellers, many in homes without yards. If you don’t have a back yard, there are lots of games you can enjoy at nearby parks. All urban areas have parks. There are 22,493 parks serving urban areas in the U.S., so there’s no excuse for not enjoying the outdoors.
What are your favorite backyard games?
Did you know that soccer is the most popular sport in the world? Even here in the U.S. where it’s not the most popular, nearly 7 million kids play on youth soccer teams.
With just a ball and two goal nets you can transform your yard into a soccer field in minutes. Get your kids or grand kids running and kicking the ball. It’s a lot healthier than sitting on the couch playing games on an electronic device.
Badminton is another game that’s fun for back yards if you have a space not crowded by trees. Badminton sets for your yard aren’t that expensive and can be put up in minutes for 2 to 4 players.
The game originated in British India and quickly became popular in Europe and Asia. In 1992 Badminton became a Summer Olympics event. It’s a great game for aerobic stamina, developing agility, and motor coordination.
For those with a more sedate nature, croquet is a fun game of skill and chance. Croquet was created as a more accessible alternative to golf in the U.K. that women were allowed to play. An American version of croquet was an event at the 1904 Summer Olympics.
We played croquet a lot when I was a kid and it was always a favorite of mine. I’ve had lawns that were either too bumpy, hilly, narrow, or sloped to be ideal for the game, but we always found a way to set up the wickets and play.
There are lots of yard games that build skill. My Dad’s favorite was horseshoes. It requires throwing precision, excellent eye-hand coordination, as well as the ability to calculate distance. Lots of games use those same principles like Cornhole, Ring Toss, and Quoits. Part of the fun of Cornhole games are all the different patterns and colors of boards and the number of different holes you can toss into.
For ring toss games you can choose from games with only one spike to games with up to four or five different spikes, each with a different score value. For any of the “toss” games you can even play alone in practice sessions to improve your skill. And none of these games require a large yard.
If you have a dog, fetch is a fun backyard game. Whether played with a Frisbee, a tennis ball, a rawhide bone or whatever your dog will chase, fetch is a fun way to spend quality time with your canine family.
There are messy games that kids love to play. My youngest grandson loves to play water balloons. His younger sister loves to do bubbles. I must have at least a dozen different types and containers of bubbles at our home in PA. We also have a plastic water slide mat that when placed on a hill and connected to a faucet, sprays the kids when they slide on it.
There are lawn bowling games. Those here in the U.S. are the simple ball and 10 pins similar to playing in a bowling alley. In southern Europe, Italy and the south of France, Bocce is almost a way of life instead of a game. The popularity has now spread into the Adriatic and some South American countries.
To call it a game of “bowling” is misleading in that the skill and precision required is nothing similar to knocking down 10 pins. Play and scoring in Bocce are intricate but the game can be played with just two players to keep it simple. When it’s played by two teams,with either two, three, or four players per team, competition becomes quite intense.
Turn your outdoors time into a fitness work out by creating your own Obstacle Course. With plastic marker cones, some old tires, a tree with a sturdy limb and some rope you can design your own obstacle course in your back yard for fitness and healthy competition between family members and friends. If you have a swimming pool you can add laps in the pool to your course. Obstacle courses are great for improving dexterity, coordination, endurance, and strength.
Some games don’t require any equipment at all. One of my favorites as a kid was “hide and seek”. There are so many great hiding places in a yard. Sometimes there would be 6 or 8 of us playing and still plenty of hiding places for everyone. My grand kids love hide and seek. We even play it in the house.
Thanksgiving weekend in 2020 during Covid, my husband and I had finally made it back to our PA house to spend the winter holidays before heading back to Florida. That weekend the temperature was mild and his daughter, husband and their two kids came for an outdoors social distance seating, self-serve Thanksgiving picnic meal on our large patio.
After everyone was done eating my granddaughter started an impromptu ball-throwing game with her soccer ball. Whoever had the ball randomly threw it to someone else, and so it went. Playing outdoors had all of us laughing and getting a bit of after-dinner exercise. And it shows that it doesn’t take much to turn your yard, or your patio, into an outdoor fun space.
Whether you go out your back door or head to a nearby park, everyone has access to green spaces. What will you do this week to celebrate National Backyard Games Week?
“Some old fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.”Laura Ingalls Wilder
If you enjoyed this blog and know someone else who would enjoy it, please share it.