Outside Games for Youth
Benefits of Playing Outside
Youth leaders, parents, and teachers should encourage young adults to spend time outdoors. Spending time outside can help alleviate stress, improve their illume system, and increase their happiness. The top benefits of spending time outside include:
- Effortless Physical Exercise. When you're exercising outside, you're likely to stay energized for longer.
- Better Sleep. Spending time outside helps to regular your cicada rhythm, allowing you to sleep better that night.
- Increased Happiness. Going on nature walks can ease signs of depression and anxiety, helping you to feel happier and more relaxed.
- Improved Immune System. Because of all the good things you experience from being outside, the fresh air will improve your immune system.
- Vitamin D Exposure. Spending time outdoors is a great way to be exposed to vitamin D, an essential nutrient you get from the sun.
- Better Relationships. Playing outside with your family or friends will improve your relationship with those people.
As long as you wear your sunscreen when you're outside, there are more benefits than drawbacks to bringing the games and activities outdoors. The fresh air will clear your head and help you to think straight after a long stressful day. Here are 25 of the best outdoor games for youth.
25 of the Best Outside Games for Youth
1. 9 Square
9 square is a great game for youth. Each person stands under a square and the goal is to get the ball into other players squares and keep it out of your square. People of all ages and skill levels.
2. Gaga Ball
Gaga Ball is a variation of dodgeball played in a pit, which originated in Israel. The goal is to be the last player in the pit. You serve the ball into the pit and after 3 bounces you can then try to get others out. You can hit the ball 1 time with your hand after it touches the net or an opponent. You can get out if you accidentally hit the ball out of the pit or you touch the ball twice in a row, or the ball touches your legs below the knee or if you hold the ball.
3. Human Knot
An easy outdoor collaborative game for youth and youth groups is Human Knot. Human Knot requires the group to work together as a team. To play, have everyone stand in a circle. Each person will put their hands out in front of them and grab onto another person's hand. You also can't grant the hand of those standing directly next to you.
Next, the group must detangle. Although it might look like a jumble of hands at first, there's a pattern in the group. If the group works together, they can untangle their hands without letting go.
This game activity involves every person in the group. If someone tries to sit out, the knot will stay tied. This is a great game for building relationships and learning to work as a team.
Werewolf (also called Mafia) is another collaborative game that can be played indoors or outdoors. It forces players to think creatively and get involved in an interactive, roleplaying storyline.
To play, gather everyone in a circle and take a seat on the grass. You will match the number of roles to the number of people in your group. If you're playing with a group larger than eight people, use two werewolves, two detectives, and one doctor. If playing with a group smaller than eight people, use one of each.
The easiest way to keep track of who has which role is by using a deck of cards.
- Aces are werewolves
- Queens are doctors
- Kings are sheriffs
- All other cards are civilians
Make sure that you have enough cards so that every player will get one. Once you pass out the cards, explain what each role does. Then, start your story. Werewolf has a narrative in the game. Every action taken will have a story behind it. Start the story by telling the group that they are friends who are going on a hike and find an abandoned haunted house. You decide to walk inside. You turn on the lights and look around. Decide the haunted house to the best of your imagination.
Suddenly, the lights go out. At this point, tell everyone to close their eyes. Then, say, "Werewolf, open your eyes." Only the werewolf will look up. They will point to someone they want to kill and then close their eyes. Next, say, "Detectives, open your eyes." The detectors will point to one person they want to investigate. The narrator will either nod or shake their head if their guess is correct or incorrect. After confirmation, Finally, say, "Doctor, open your eyes." The doctor will look up and point to someone they want to save. If they point to the same person that the werewolf chose, they will have saved the person.
After the doctor finishes, everyone will open their eyes. The narrator will begin a story about what happened while the lights were out. The narrator is the star of this game and should put detail into their stories. If the werewolf killed someone, make up a story about what happened. If the doctor could not save that person, that person becomes a ghost and has to watch the rest play out silently.
Next, the group can hold a meeting and try to guess who the werewolf is. Once they decide on who they want to vote for, that person also becomes a ghost. The narrator will confirm or deny whether the person was a werewolf, detective, doctor, or civilian. The game continues until either the werewolves win or the players vote the werewolves out.
5. Dragon Tail Tag
Dragon tag is an incredibly simple activity to put together and is an easy way to make sure everyone is involved in the game. The game starts with everyone running around. If someone can tag another person, the tagger becomes the head of their dragon, and the back person becomes the tail. The head of the dragon will try to tag the tail of a different dragon. If they are successful, the other dragon is absorbed into the tagger's dragon.
This has everyone chasing each others' tails, trying to make the largest dragon. The leader of the last dragon standing wins.
This game is a great game to play with a large group of people. If you're hosting a youth group meeting or camp game, this is the perfect activity to make sure that everyone is laughing and having fun without a single person left out.
Manhunt is a variation of hide and seek, but with a twist. To start, you will need a group of seekers and a group of hiders. The hiders will run out into an area that has a lot of different hiding places. It's best to play this game in a forested area or neighborhood. Before starting the game, mark boundaries so that everyone stays in the same area.
The seekers will go out looking for the hiders. However, when they find a hider, they have to tag them. If the hider gets away, they can start hiding again. This classic mashup between tag and hide and seek keeps everyone entertained for hours. Best of all, you can play this game with as few as three or four people.
7. Capture the Flag
One of the most common outdoor youth group games is Capture the Flag. Capture the Flag is a fun, team building game that ensures that every playing is getting their daily dose of exercise. It's also a great game for a fun field day.
To play, separate the group into two teams. Every player will need a flag tied loosely around their waist. If you can't remove the flag with a light tug, it's too tight. On each side of the field, you will also need a team flag. The opposing team will try to steal the team flag. If the opposing team can bring the team flag back over the middle dividing line, they win the game. Other players can defend their flag by grabbing the opposing team's flags while they're on their side of the field. If a person grabs a flag, the person who lost their flag must go to the team's "jail" until a jailbreak.
This outdoor game is perfect for large groups. It is a fun game for kids of all ages and can be played in a large backyard.
8. Alligator Swamp (The Floor Is Lava)
To play Alligator Swamp, you will need to create an obstacle course. The obstacle course needs to be above the ground, allowing the players to get from one side of the obstacle course to the other without ever setting foot on the ground. If they lose their balance and touch the ground, an alligator will get them, and they're out of the race. This game is also called "The Floor Is Lava."
Set up the obstacle course to include a wide variety of obstacles. Here are some ideas to include in your Alligator Swamp obstacle course:
- Balance beams
- Bean bags
Set up the different items around the course so that all of the items are touching. You can also place them further apart to require the kids to jump from one thing to the next. You want the course to be challenging, but not difficult.
9. Spin Tag
Spin Tag is tag with a spin. To play, choose one person to be "It." After you know who's It, have everyone spin in a circle until everyone is nearly toppling over with dizziness. Then, yell, "Go!" It will try to tag as many people as possible in a count of ten seconds while everyone is giggling and laughing while falling over. For the next round, everyone tagged also become It. The game continues until everyone is a tagger.
This game gets the whole group laughing and grinning ear to ear. It's the perfect outdoor game because it's active and fun for everyone.
10. Blind Man's Bluff
Blind Man's Bluff is another variation of tag. In this version of tag, it's like Marco Polo on land. It's best to play this game in an open field where there's no danger of tripping or running into trees. To play, blindfold one person. That person will be the tagger.
Everyone else will fan out in the field and try to avoid being tagged. If the tagger can tag someone, they become the new blind man, and the round starts over.
11. The Witch Isn't Out Tonight
One of the best night games for a youth group is The Witch Isn't Out Tonight. This game is fun for young kids who have bright imaginations. It's best played at night when there's faint illumination from the moon. Because you play this game at night, you should stay in an enclosed area such as a backyard, but make sure that there are plenty of places to hide.
One person is chosen to be the "witch." The witch runs out into the darkness and hides. After a moment, the rest of the group links arms and skips into the nighttime air, singing, "The witch isn't out tonight!" The witch then jumps from their hiding spot and tags one of the other players. Everyone else tries to run away as quickly as possible. If the witch successfully tags one of the players, they become the new witch in the next round.
This exciting version of tag gets kids laughing and screaming with delight. It's a great game to play with a medium to a small-sized group of people.
12. Zombie Apocalypse
you can play Zombie Apocalypse in a field, forest, playground, or backyard. It's a versatile game perfect as a youth group activity, birthday party game, or simple outdoor game with friends.
To play, separate the players into three different groups. Throughout the game, rotate the groups so that everyone can play each of the different roles. The three different groups include the survivors, the helpers, and the zombies.
First, send the zombies to the opposite side of the playing field and have them zombies close their eyes. While the zombie's eyes are closed, send out the survivors. The survivors will try to hide on the playing field where they think the zombies won't look for them. The survivors have one minute to find a hiding spot. After one minute, release the zombies. The zombie's goal is to find the survivors and tag them. If a zombie tags a survivor, the survivor becomes another zombie. The zombies have one minute to tag the survivors until the helpers enter the field.
The helpers are immune to the zombies. To aid the survivors, the helpers can gather around a survivor and lead them from the field, blocking the zombies from tagging the survivor. The helpers' goal is to get as many survivors to safety as possible, often requiring a group of helpers to work together.
You can play as many rounds as the group wants to play. To keep the game exciting, switch up the roles to give the helpers a chance to be zombies and the survivors a chance to be helpers.
13. A Perfect Square
Some groups thrive when given cooperative games that require intense teamwork. One of the best cooperative gamesfor a youth group, camper group, or family activity is A Perfect Square. To play, all you need is one long rope with the ends tied together. Sit the players in a circle and blindfold everyone. Then, give them the rope so that everyone is holding onto the rope.
The game's goal is to make a perfect square with the rope. However, no one can see. This requires the group to use verbal communication and to listen carefully to one another.
When the goal thinks they have a perfect square, everyone can take off their blindfolds and observe their progress. Most of the time, their square will resemble an oddly shaped oval rather than a square. Everyone can laugh about their mistakes, put the blindfolds back on, and keep working.
By the end of this activity, the group will have bonded and learned to work together as a team. This game can use as many players as you want.
14. Blanket Volleyball
Blanket Volleyball is a fun variation that encourages groups to work together. To play, you will need the following items:
- One volleyball net
- One volleyball
- Two extra-large blankets
Set up a regular volleyball court. One either side of the court lay out a large blanket. Have the teams gather around the blankets so that every team member is holding onto the blanket. One side of the court serves by placing the ball in the center of the blanket and then pulling it taut so that the ball flies over the net. The opposite team catches the ball by having the ball land in the blanket. Then, they launch the ball back over the net.
If you don't have access to a large blanket, you can also play with smaller blankets. To use smaller blankets, put two small blankets on either side of the court, and have four people stand on each blanket. This version will require the blankets to move around the court to catch the ball as it flies over the net. It requires more coordination and more teamwork. This variation is best for older kids.
15. Chubby Bunny
This game is a choking hazard and should not be played with younger kids. While playing Chubby Bunny, you should also have an adult present who knows the Heimlich. We do not recommend this game to large groups because of the choking hazard. However, if you would like to play the game, proceed with caution.
To play Chubby Bunny, you will need several bags of mini marshmallows. Put out a plate of marshmallows in front of each child and tell them to put one in their mouth but not to swallow. Once everyone has one marshmallow in their mouth, have everyone say, "Chubby Bunny."
Next, move to two marshmallows. Once everyone has two in their mouth, say, "Chubby Bunny." The game continues by adding more and more marshmallows until someone can no longer say, "Chubby Bunny." When someone can't say the phrase, they're out. Have the person safely spit out the marshmallows into a bag. The game continues until there is only one person left who can still say, "Chubby Bunny."
Again, we don't recommend this game because of the choking risk. Because this game is funny, there's a chance that one of the players could inhale one of the marshmallows or could try to swallow the marshmallows in their mouth. If you do choose to play this game, monitor the kids closely.
16. Photo Scavenger Hunt
Hosting a photo scavenger hunt is a fun outdoor game that will get the kids running from one location to another. To play, you will need to create several groups of three to five kids. Each group will need a phone. If the kids are too young and none of them have phones, add an adult to each group, and use the adult's phone.
You will also need a list of common places, items, or things that the kids can take pictures with. Some examples of common photo scavenger hunt items are:
- Fire hydrant
- Scriptures (for church youth groups)
- Gas station
If you want to keep the game centralized to a specific location, only include items found in that specific area. Some like to spread the game out and have the adult chaperone drive the kids from one place to another. When they find an item or place on their list, all of the kids must be in the picture with the item.
The first group to finish their list wins. Have the groups show off their favorite or funniest moments to get everyone laughing and enjoying their time.
17. Treasure Hunt
Treasure hunts are the perfect activity to encourage kids' imaginations and get them excited about the activity. A treasure hunt engages pure imagination. To have a successful treasure hunt, you will first need to create a treasure map. One of the best ways to do this is by using a brown paper shopping bag. Start by ripping out the shape of a treasure map. Draw out your treasure map on the bag, making sure that you include key details that will help the kids locate the treasure. Once your map is colored and authentic, wrinkle the bag until it becomes soft. After you smooth it out, you should have an old treasure map.
For the game, rip the map into sections. Ripping the map into different sections will ensure that the kids won't simply run to their final destination. Instead, it requires them to work through the map step by step.
Give the kids a clue or riddle that leads to the first section of the map. Once they find the first section, include a second clue that leads to the next part of the map. Continue this until they've collected all parts of the map.
When the map is assembled, tape all the parts together and follow the map to find the treasure box. Of course, you should have hidden treasure at the end of the map to make sure that experience is worthwhile.
18. Sidewalk Chalk Drawing Contest
Sidewalk chalk is an easy, fun way to keep a group of kids engaged for a long period of time. Most kids love drawing because it's a way to express themselves in a form other than words. Drawing will bring out the best in the kids, teaching them how to share and bond with one another in a non-competitive way.
To have a chalk drawing contest, bring out several boxes of chalk. Let the kids take full creative control over what they draw, where they draw, and how they draw. Encourage the kids to team up and create intertwining drawings such as a sprawling farm with lots of animals.
When it's time to judge, give every drawing a compliment and give everyone a prize, ensuring that all of the kids record the memory as a positive experience.
19. Water Balloon Toss
Hosting a water balloon toss is an easy way to get all of the kids involved in a fun outdoor game. To play, you need water balloons. Fill up a bucket full of water balloons, and remember that it's always better to have too many than too few. Partner the kids into pairs. The kids will toss the water balloon and then each take a step back. If the water balloon breaks, that pair is out.
This outdoor activity is a great way to get the kids excited. Make sure that you have plenty of room to play since water games can get messy fast. By the end, you will have several soaked children and a group of laughing kids.
20. Outdoor Dodgeball
Typically, dodgeball is an indoor game, which allows the balls to bounce off the walls and back into the arena. However, one of the best ways to keep a group of kids entertained is by playing outdoor dodgeball. To play, you need a grassy area, cones to create a boundary, and several bouncy balls.
First, set up the playing area by creating one large rectangle and cutting it in half to make two equal-sized playing areas. Next, split the group into two teams and put the teams into two different halves. Line the balls up in the center and have the kids race towards the balls and begin throwing.
The main difference between outdoor dodgeball and indoor dodgeball is that players who got out still have a chance to come back into the game. When a player gets hit, they line up on the opposite side of the court, facing their opposing team. When a ball flies out, they can run after it and hit the opposite team players. If they get someone out, they come back into the game.
This system creates a built-in way to retrieve the balls that fly too far away from the playing area. Now, those out of the game get a chance to come back in by chasing the stray balls. This easy ball game is one of the best ways to keep a large group of teenager participants engaged for a long time.
21. Red Rover
Red Rover is a classic school game and classic summer camp game. It's the perfect way to get the little ones laughing and working together as a team out in the sunshine.
To play Red Rover, split your group into two teams. Have both teams line up facing each other, about ten to twenty feet about. Everyone holds hands and faces off. The starting team calls, "Red rover, red rover, let [name of the person on the other team] come over." The person they called runs at the other team. If they can run and break through the opposite team's arms, they get to collect the two people who broke the chain. However, if they can't break the chain, they are absorbed into the team.
The goal is to get all of the players on the same team. The team that gets all the players wins.
22. Frisbee Speed Catch
Frisbee Speed Catch is a fun, fast-paced, outdoor game. This game doesn't need more space than a backyard. To play, all you need are a few frisbees.
Start by pairing everyone into pairs of two and give every pair a frisbee. At the same time, have everyone throw the frisbee back and forth as many times as they can in a specific time frame. The pair that can throw the frisbee the most wins.
You can repeat this to make sure the game lasts for as long as you need. This game is best for a fast activity, rather than a longer activity.
23. Squirt Gun Angry Birds
To play this game, you will need the following items:
- Ping pong balls
- Small cardboard ring boxes
- Squirt guns
- Cotton balls
Try to set up the cups, ping pong balls, ring boxes, and cotton balls in a tower similar to the setup of Angry Birds. The ping pong balls and cotton balls will be the pigs while the kids playing are the angry birds.
To win, the kids will use the squirt gun to shoot at the tower, trying to knock down all of the ping pong balls and cotton balls. Each kid gets to shoot their squirt gun once at the tower. If they don't knock down the tower, the next kid gets a chance to shoot at the tower. This is the perfect game for younger kids because it engages their imagination and mimics a popular phone game that most young kids will know.
24. Bocce Ball
Bocce ball is a simple game, and it's extremely easy to teach to young kids, making it the perfect game for both adults and kids. To play, you will need a bocce ball set.
First, throw out the pallino, which is the small white ball included in the set. Each team of players will try to throw out a bocce ball and get it as close to the pallino as possible. The next team can hit the pallino and move it, or hit another player's bocce balls to move them away from the pallino. The team or individual who throws closest to the pallino wins the game.
25. Glow Stick Tag
Glow stick tag is perfect for when you're playing games outside at night time. To play glow stick tag, you will need a lot of glow sticks, including necklaces, bracelets, and belt glow sticks. Let the kids put the glow sticks everywhere so that everyone glows in the dark.
Once everyone is ready for the dark, let them play tag in the backyard. Because the backyard is an enclosed area, it's fairly safe to let the kids play without strict parent supervision, making this a great game during a birthday party.
Glow stick tag is fun for younger kids because it adds a neat twist to the popular game of tag.
26. Pool Noodle Tag
Another simple outdoor game is pool noodle tag. Pool noodle tag is fun because it feels similar to a pillow fight. The kids can run around hitting each other with soft pool noodles.
The game is exactly like tag, but instead of tagging with their hands, they tag with a pool noodle. The person who's "It" gets the pool noodle. When the game starts, It tries to tag another kid with the pool noodle. If they successfully touch another playing, they drop the pool noodle and run. The new It picks up the pool noodle and resumes the game. This also helps the kids to keep track of who's It.
This is the perfect outdoor game for young kids because it encourages them to run around during the entirety of the game, ensuring that they get plenty of exercise.
Cornhole is a simple, classic game that is commonly played outdoors. To play, you will need a cornhole set. Once you have the cornhole set, the rest of the game is easy to set up. Simply place the cornhole boards about 27 feet from the other.
The two teams stand behind their board and toss a small bean bag towards the opposite cornhole board, trying to get the bean bag to land in one of the holes on the board. The team to land the most in the hole (or even land it on the board itself) wins the game.
This game is perfect as an outdoor activity for youth because it can engage a large group of youth members at the same time. It also helps the kids to practice arm strength and accuracy.