By Megan Reece Thomas
This is the season for barbeques, picnics, vacations and family outings. Enjoying yourself outdoors with your family is a great way to enjoy the sunshine, some good food and a little bit of activity. Outside of the pick-up game of basketball or a swim in an outdoor pool, there are some great options for fitting activity into a large family gathering.
If you have enough people present, organize a kickball tournament. Divide your group into as many six-person teams as you can. Grab a kickable ball and treat it as baseball — minus the skill necessary to play that game. This is great because children can play alongside adults.
If you are out at night, bring out the kid in everyone by playing a game of flashlight tag or hide-and-seek in the dark. You run just a little faster at night because that ingrained childhood fear of the dark starts to take over and your adrenaline soars. There’s something very invigorating about crouching down in the bushes waiting until the “hunter” passes you by to sprint for base.
If you are a bit more ambitious and want to bring some organization to the party, consider having a multi-stage race or event to bring a large group together. Triathlons have participants swim, bike and run, but you can get creative with this. If you have access to a pool, have your participants run to the pool, do some laps, jump out and run back to the start.
You can insert more interesting events at any point. Try a jump-roping station and a hula-hoop station. Stage your own “So You Think You Can Dance” and videotape everyone doing a 20-30 second dance of his or her choice. Have your crowd pick out the winner later in the day. The winner doesn’t have to have a “good” dance, either. You can pick the silliest, most creative and so on.
To make an event like this come together, you should find some friends or family members to act as timers and judges. If you are having a large gathering, odds are that not everyone will want to run the race. Hopefully you will have a source of volunteers! Provide each timer with a notebook and have him or her jot starting and finishing times for each event. If each volunteer has an individual job, you can later consolidate all of the times together and determine winners.
Get some fun prizes for everyone who runs the race and helps and you have the feeling of a real race day, as well as a fun, fantastic bonding experience for your friends and family. And if your high-intensity event lasts even 30 minutes, you’re talking approximately 300 calories burned while you have the time of your life.