Soccer Tennis: COVID-19 Safe!

I am always on the hunt for new games and ideas to play during this pandemic. So I present to you, Soccer Tennis! This game is perfect. You can stay 6 feet apart and enjoy this outdoors or indoors. Even when the virus is over, you can still continue to enjoy this game. Soccer Tennis is a great game to teach skill development and work on the skills needed to play in an actual game of soccer. You can practice headers and work on your touch of the ball. We have been doing soccer clinics, but a great way to set up a tournament with your participants, and see who can be the champion. Break it up by age groups, and have fun making this into a competition. Clinics and skill development is fun, but for the competitors this game should satisfy their craving. So how do your play Soccer Tennis?

1.Put two players on each side, much like a doubles tennis match. You can also play 1 v 1. Adjust rules as needed.

2. One player from Team A “serves” the soccer ball to the other side. Once it goes over the net, Team B has, at most, three touches and one bounce to return the ball back to Team A’s side of the court. Team A, then, has three touches and one bounce to keep the rally going. The bounce can come at any point during the return. So if Team B chooses to let the ball bounce before touching it, they will then have three touches to get it over the net without letting it bounce again. Or, Team B can volley Team A’s serve before it bounces, which means they will then have two more touches and a bounce to get it back to the other side.

3. There is no need to alternate touches between teammates, as they’re required to do in volleyball. If one player from Team B lets the serve bounce, then touches it three times without a teammate’s help and gets it back over the net, it is a legal play. However, participation by everyone is encouraged and helpful toward winning a match.

4. Beginners (and those getting used to the concept of the game) should play more defensively, basically making sure they can collect the ball within the rules and get it back to the other side. Once players become more skilled and comfortable, however, they can start playing strategically. For example, Team B can try to return a serve by dropping it behind the Team A players, so long as it stays within the boundaries. A skilled player on Team B can try to kick it (or head it) at a player on Team A, which would put the Team A player in an uncomfortable position of needing to both avoid the ball and return it.

5. Scoring can be structured depending on how much time you have, but the new method of volleyball rally scoring is usually the most exciting–that is, each rally results in a point by one of the teams. As with tennis and volleyball rules, the team that fails to place the ball in the other team’s in-bounds area loses the point.

You can buy the Soccer Tennis net from several vendors. I featured which is $120. There are a variety of vendors you can purchase from at different price points. You can create your boundaries using field paint, or markers. Depends on your space, budget, etc…

I have added this game to the Resource Zone on my website. Enjoy and stay safe!

After School Staff Engagement Leads To Quality Programming

I have come up with several different new programs and activities that I like to place staff in charge of. It has been my experience that when the staff are more involved in the development of a program, it runs smoother and the staff enjoy their jobs more. Below is a list of programs that you can delegate to your staff. Even though times are still crazy, all of these ideas can be used during COVID-19 or when it is gone. Don’t let the virus and limitations you may have hold you back from allowing your staff to have some creative control of the program. The kids and staff need variety and a fun place to spend their time.

  1. After School Sports Clinics (Leagues): Set up skill clinics on Tuesdays/Thursdays or a time during the week that the kids can focus on skill development and a certain sport. Soccer, Football, Basketball, Lacrosse, etc..When the virus goes away, move into sports leagues. Put the kids on teams and have them play each other. The champion could travel to another program to play their team. Find the staff that loves sports and put them in charge. If you have a soccer player on staff, start with soccer clinics!
  2. Junior Counselors: Once a week have the 4th/5th graders that are interested be Junior Counselors. A Junior Counselor is someone that can help with the day to day of the program. Snack, Rides Out, Cleaning, Reading Buddy to K/1st grader, etc…Delegate a staff to lead this. It could be someone on staff that is on student council or someone that loves leadership or coaching others.
  3. Wacky Wednesday: Have the staff and campers dress up on Wednesdays. Make an incentive to dress up, have games align to the theme, and plan them in advance so the parents know what to expect. Put a staff member in charge that has tons of enthusiasm/creativity. Have them plan out the monthly calendar and themes. If every Wednesday is too much, do it two times a month. You can create your own design, let the staff member have freedom.
  4. Friday FUNday: This will be a chance for the kids to choose what they want to do. Give them a few fun choices and let them decide. Find a staff member that loves to be organized, maybe someone that is a veteran staff. They can program the Friday’s and will be great training for them if they want to be an office manager or site coordinator one day. Save your movies, playground, video games, open gym time for this day. Have the kids look forward to this day of the week!
  5. Staff Social Outings: It is important to have staff bonding time. Find a staff that is great at bringing people together. The staff in charge of this will come up with something to do once or twice a month together after work or on a weekend. Make it creative, cost effective, and fun. Have the person create a calendar of events for the semester. This staff member can also plan fun things into the monthly staff meeting. Games, ice breakers, food, etc…

When the staff are empowered, you will see quality programming inside your program. They are energized and excited to come to work. When they are part of the planning, they feel the pressure of showing up and giving the kids an amazing experience each day. That should never fall just on one person. I have listed this in the Resource Zone in the “Staff Training” section on my website.

“Its not the tools you have faith in, tools are just tools, they work, or they don’t work. It’s the people you have faith in or not.” Steve Jobs

Steal The Bacon Pasta? More Social Distancing Game Ideas During COVID-19

Bacon Pasta {Quick & Easy} - OnePotRecipes

Are you in need of some more games for your program? This time continues to move on month after month. I have 4 more games for you to try during COVID-19 or anytime really! These are all safe and easy to do while keeping social distancing as much as possible. I will admit that this time where are in does limit but doesn’t fully shut down everything you can do. Stay positive, look at some of your old games, and tweak them if possible. The four games I am going to share with you are tweaks on a few fan favorites. The full description of these games can be found in the Resource Zone located on my website.

1.International Soccer: Set up your gym, field, or multipurpose room where you have poly spots in offense and defensive sides of the field. This non stop action game is great for developing basic soccer skills because of the additional opportunities for players to make contact with the ball. To start, place two balls in the middle of the playing area. On “GO”, players attempt to gain possession of one of the balls and try to score at one of the opponent’s two goals. Players can’t leave their poly spot. There are no out of bounds when playing indoors, if outside use the standard lines as boundaries. The counselor must help keep ball in play. When a goal is scored, the ball is kicked back into action by one of the goalies and play resumes. The goalies can only use their feet to block the ball. Each team needs to keep their own score. The team with the highest score wins. See the Resource Zone on my website for the full description and layout of the game. Each team is a different country.

2. Freeze Dance with Exercise!: Play music and have the participants run around the room or gym. Stop the music and the participants must freeze. If they don’t they are out and must go to the other side of the room. Once they do 20 jumping jacks, push ups, or any exercise you choose, they can play again. Let kids be in charge of the music and have them stop the music. Simple game and works really well with younger kids.

3. Steal The Bacon Pasta: Create two teams and spread them out on each side of the room giving them a number 1-10, etc… Put the bacon (ball) in the middle of the room, and pasta (pool noodle) in the middle of the room. The game begins when the leader who stands in the middle calls out the number. So if you call number 7, they both run to the middle. The goal is to grab the bacon, if they get the bacon across their team line, they get 3 points. If they tag the player with the pasta, they get 1 point. The team with the most points wins.

4. The Soccer Bull: Spread out your participants in a big circle of 8-10. Assign one player to stand in the middle to be the bull. The other players job is to keep the ball away from the bull by passing the ball from one player to another. The bull chases the ball attempting to intercept or touch the ball with their feet. If successful, the bull switches with the player who last touched the ball. If the ball goes outside the circle, the player responsible becomes the next bull. This game does a great job emphasizing correct kicking and trapping techniques.

These are 4 games to add to your arsenal! Remember when you are choosing and selecting teams, avoid saying Team 1 and Team 2. You are more FUN than that. Say, on this side are “The Apple Jacks” and on this side are “The Cinnamon Toast Crunch”. Kids might say, “I don’t want to be an Apple Jack”, and you just say, its cool, we will switch names again later, you are fine, lets play. Games are meant to be fun, and you can keep that fun by being positive and also playing the game. Don’t just talk to them, play with them. Think about your favorite teacher. I guarantee they didn’t just talk to you, they showed you how to learn. This is true in youth programming, show the kids how to have fun. Have a great weekend!

8 Ways To Frustrate Yourself Leading A Game!

You have an eager and excited group of kids and or staff ready to PLAY! Don’t be the teacher from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. If you have never heard of this movie, please do yourself a favor and watch. It is a classic. Ok, moving forward. In this strange time of COVID-19 or any time period, kids attention spans are getting smaller and smaller. When you are able to keep their attention and keep the day moving forward, it will drastically cut down on the number of behavior problems you will have to deal with. If you are doing this for a youth group or staff training, it will make your participants eager to come back to another training or meeting. I have included 8 ways that you can frustrate yourself leading a game so you don’t become that teacher!

  1. Telling the crowd you’re going to play a game: Don’t say, “Now we’re going to play Cross The Ocean.” You’ll hear some cheers but also some groans. Instead start communicating what needs to happen.
  2. Being unprepared: Time is always crucial. Everyone knows that no one can pay attention to anyone or anything for more than 20 seconds these days. Go ahead and get your equipment prepared prior to activity.
  3. Not playing with the kids: As a counselor you are there to build relationships with the campers. How can you build relationships sitting on the sidelines?
  4. Explaining the game for more than 30 seconds: Be as clear and quick as possible. Don’t be afraid to start a game even when some are still confused. You and the other counselors can help those that are struggling with the rules. Most of them will pick it up quickly.
  5. Taking more than 30 seconds to divide a team: Have a plan on how you are going to split your group. My favorite is to line them up and literally point to one side of the room and watch them go that direction. This will avoid changing teams. Don’t let the campers pick the teams, this will set up awkwardness.
  6. The kids can’t see or understand you: Put yourself in the camper’s shoes and imagine how they see and hear you. The sun should be in your eyes, not their eyes.
  7. Yelling at them: If you yell at those stepping out of line you will get them angry and lose the focus of the rest of the group. Start by capturing their attention. Set clear expectations, if they step out follow through. Praise those doing a good job. Remember kids are always watching.
  8. Playing the game too long: When the game is about to reach its peak, switch it. This will make the kids remember the game fondly, and prevent boredom and discipline issues.

This list may sound simple to you, but these are common mistakes I have made. I am bad about playing a game too long. I am super competitive and you have to remember that the kids are kids. They are not your peers, so your goal is to not win the game or try to win MVP. When the game goes long, I have seen kids get too aggressive and it can lead to pushing, shoving, and behaviors that never should have happened. Play the games with the kids, enjoy the moment, and then take time at the end of the game to do something I call “Golden Moments” where you have everyone take a knee or sit down and reflect. Giving them a chance to shout out their peers for something good they saw. Then you will be able to transition safely to the next part of your day. I have put this training document in the staff training section of the Resource Zone. As you are leading programs, feel free to steal, share, and use. Happy Friday!

Cheers/Songs work during Social Distance! Try the Bojangles Sweet Tea.

Who doesn’t love some good sweet Bojangles Tea? As you try and create a fun culture during COVID-19, make sure you don’t forget the cheers and songs that make a program fun. I love Bojangles so much, that we made a cheer about it. It’s pretty simple, which are the best cheers and songs for me. When I try and lead songs, I often get lost when I have to remember too many words or movements. Find your style and delegate if you have to.

Bojangles Tea

You’re sweet (Clap Clap)

You’re sweet (Clap Clap)

Like Bojangles Tea

Like Bojangles Tea

Yes, kids are learning at their computer, they have schedules, but break in some time for cheers and songs when you can. Find time for fun! We can get caught in the negative of this current schedule, and the kids deserve more. These young students and staff are facing challenges like we have never seen before. Their mental health is important. Sing, do silly cheers, find time during their “brain breaks” to talk to them and get them excited as much as you can. I have added some new files and organized the Resource Zone on my website so you can navigate this easier. I have made sure these were all in alphabetical order as many files have been dropped in over the past year. You can find the Resource Zone on your mobile device by clicking on the menu or if you are on your laptop/desktop its listed at the top of the page. These are all for you. You can pull these up right off your phone with your campers or you can print them off and put in a notebook or clipboard. I hope this helps bring a little FUN into your day.

COVID-19 Game…Paper Airplane Golf

If you are looking for another fun game idea to add to your program during these tough times, try Paper Airplane Golf. This game is similar to how Frisbee Golf is played. Before you even play this game, let the participants know that they can design their paper airplane any way they want. Giving the participants time to be creative is key and makes this game even more fun. For participants that may struggle with building a plane, show them a few ways to make a basic airplane so everyone playing has a fair chance. There are several places to find this information, one of my favorites s is and they have basic instructions for you. So what do you do after everyone has made their airplane?

  1. Create a golf course. Give it a fun name. (Hula Hoop Beach or Augusta Paper Airplane National).
  2. Use hula hoops as the holes. If you have a large indoor space or outdoor space, make about 6-7 holes. Break up your group of 10 participants into pairs and spread the players out.
  3. For the tee (starting points), use poly spots.
  4. For each hole you can set par 3, 4, etc..Have the older kids keep score, younger kids just let them play! To make the holes different, make the hole farther, add in things like chairs that could block the plane from flying, or anything else you want to add. Water trap, add in a baby pool. Just have fun. If you are pressed for time, just make the holes and get out of the way so the kids can begin playing.

This is a simple and basic game to add into your program. I include links from and it is very affordable if you don’t already have these supplies at your location. I hope you enjoy Paper Airplane Golf, and continue to make this challenging time as fun as you can. I have more COVID-19 game ideas and other fun ideas in the Resource Zone on my website.

End Of The Road – Summer Day Camp, Job Well Done.

It’s hard to believe that Summer Day Camp 2020 is officially over. It started with many uncertainties and challenges, but you have shown great leadership through COVID-19. It is hard to put into words or even express the gratitude that I have for you as a Summer Day Camp staff member or Director. If you worked at the YMCA or with another organization, we ALL served kids and you are appreciated. You made the personal decision to serve on the front lines everyday, and give these campers everything you had so they had a normal and fun Summer. You have worn masks in the hottest time of the year! As you smiled or talked to the kids through your mask, you did your best to show the enthusiasm and love through your eyes. You wanted to side hug or high five that camper or co-worker, but you had to air high five or do something else. You were outside taking temperatures and asking CDC questions, while keeping it fun and welcoming for that parent and camper in the crazy heat. You helped kids that felt nervous leaving their parent because they have been by their side since March, trust your camp as they started their first day in a new environment. You adapted to the new way of programming, and didn’t get to play some of your favorite games while keeping the campers excited. You were in groups of 9-10 kids by yourself, and didn’t have that co-counselor to lean on. You wore gloves, cleaned, and did everything you could to maintain a safe and clean environment. You had a smaller budget to work with, but you found ways to be creative. There are many other things you did differently this Summer, but also you missed out on things too. You missed staff training events like dance parties with confetti, messy contests, and other wacky things we would do prior to camp. You missed out on family nights and engaging with the parents, staff pool parties, staff intramurals, and other fun things you would do to stay connected outside of work. You missed that close connection with your campers and co-workers where you wanted to sit right beside them instead of taking a few steps back. All in all, you didn’t let that phase you or get you down. You had a purpose to make that kid smile and feel safe! You did that!

As many students head back to school or do virtual learning in the Fall, you have set them up for success. The social and emotional learning many campers received this Summer will help these teachers as they transition back into the classroom/virtual classroom. You have helped your community, and did your part as a Summer Day Camp Counselor or Director. When these campers are asked what was their favorite thing about Summer next week in their virtual meet the teacher sessions, many will say “Summer Day Camp was the best part of my Summer. I made friends and had the best time!” You did that! You created that memory for them in Summer 2020. I hope you take the time to reflect on the memories you made. Ask your parents to share with you the impact this Summer has made on their child. This is a great thing to share with the other staff from that camp, and donors that helped make camp possible. “Things end, but memories last forever.”

As you head back to high school, college, or to another program for that organization, you have handled a level of adversity that others may have not faced yet. What a great skill you have learned during this unusual time! Use that skill and confidence as you face new challenges in the Fall. Help others that may reach out and ask for guidance. If you go on a job interview, just don’t say you work with kids, and under sell what you have done. Your job as camp counselor or camp director is a serious job, and it’s way more than playing games, getting pied in the face, and swimming. Let them know all the skills and talents you have learned along the way. I started the Summer with a training and blog post called”You Are A SuperHero!” You are. Job Well Done Summer Day Camp Counselors and Directors.

I will leave you with an all time Summer Day Camp Assembly Classic that I would play for the kids back in the Early 2000’s!

No Hand Cake Challenge and Josh Jarman!

I found another winner! I was scrolling through Facebook and saw the “No Hand Cake Challenge!” In the world of COVID-19, there is no touching and you can use your own cake or fun food to eat. The perfect challenge to entertain kids and staff. You can also keep people six feet apart and use more than two people if you would like to. How to do this contest? Just have the contestant keep their hands behind their back and have them move their body across the floor without using their hands. First one to take a bite of the cake across the room is the winner. For safety reasons, they don’t have to finish the cake. This is important so you don’t have someone choking. Classic rule, “Is it fun, is it safe?” Check out this video on Facebook, and search Arron Crascall.

I also came across one of my old files from an old colleague named Josh Jarman. I keep everything, I am pretty sure my storage drive on my work computer could be the size of my Napster music collection from college.

The Josh Jarman Life Rules…

  1. Never say its not my job, never say I wish I had.

2. Smile, you are in the business of changing lives.

3. Be interested, less interesting.

4. Don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want to have.

5. Assume the best and encourage each other.

6. Love God, love others and nothing else matters.

7. Be bold and not silent.

8. Be a sponge and learn.

9. When going out, be safe, have fun, and no pictures (they will get you in trouble.)

10. Leave it better than you found it.

11.Keep your head up and heels down.

12. Do you best and leave the rest up to God.

13. When in doubt go to the mountains.

14, Leave good tracks.

15.Its 2:30, go change lives.

When I find old files or training documents, they always make me smile. You can tell by reading this list, that Josh put his heart and soul into his job. Josh wanted his staff to know that he is human, and that he cared for the people he worked with. He wanted them to succeed. I always try to pull 1-2 things when I hear someone train or speak, and I love number 8 from his list. Be a sponge and learn. You may have just started your career or been in the position a long time. You are never to good at something, to not learn something new. I have always challenged myself to do this. We all can have an ego, and hear someone speak, and immediately say I know this or this is already boring. If you train yourself to listen, you will always find something to use. This is a big reason I have stuck with this website. I want to share the things I steal or have with other people. We all can help each other. Check out the Resource Zone for more ideas. Have a great week!

You Can Be Hulk Hogan? Community Builders Help Keep The Fun In A Meeting Or Training!

This is a Youth Program website, but if you are in a corporate office job, don’t discount this idea. Fun should be happening in any job, regardless if this doesn’t fit your work culture. A community builder is something that you do to start a meeting or a staff training. These are especially important if you don’t know everyone in the room or you are trying to learn about your team besides saying “Hey, can you look at the budget, and tell me why this is happening?”. There are many community builders that you can do, but this one is a fun idea to me. I grew up on WWF and WCW wrestling. If you are younger, and you don’t know who these two are in the picture, go to YouTube and watch a WWF Summer Slam or Monday Night Raw, and you will see how everyone was locked into watching wrestling. I have seen many community builders through my tenure working in the youth program/non-profit world of the YMCA. These community builders usually take the shape of the personality of the person leading, and is a fun way to delegate to staff so they have ownership of the meeting. Since I loved wrestling, I follow the motto of “Do what you love, love what you do.” We all attend meetings and trainings, sometimes multiple times a day. Why not make it fun, and change it up every once in a while? Some community builders can be serious, and some don’t have to be this over the top, but find your timing and don’t be scared to shake things up a little.

This community builder is called “You Can Be Hulk Hogan!”. You can do this with a partner or by yourself. Let the room or virtual room know that you will be given 3-5 minutes to choose the following…

  1. You must choose a wrestler name.
  2. Choose your intro song,
  3. Choose your secret skill.
  4. Choose your move/dance move/look to the crowd to get them fired up.
  5. Choose your costume (This one can be if you want to give them a day to think about it and present it. Good for staff trainings.)

Have them present to the larger group and share. This is fun to see what personalities you have on your team, but also more importantly forget about WORK for a few minutes. Culture and fun should live together. Your team should have a moment to breathe, instead of jumping straight into the day to day tasks. If you think you can’t do this, you may want to reevaluate your place of employment. I will say that you need to make sure the community builder doesn’t take over the whole meeting, set time limit, and move on. As a participant of a meeting, it does get frustrating if you arrive and wonder the purpose of the meeting, or feel that you will not have time to cover what you need to do. Keep in mind that engaging employees is critical for retaining valuable talent and is an important piece of the employment satisfaction puzzle. So remember, don’t be scared to start a meeting with some fun. Even if you feel awkward, that may be a good thing for you and your company. The “same ol, same ol” isn’t going to work now. I have included this community builder in the Staff Training section of the Resource Zone on my website. For those new to reading, about 90 percent of my content is stolen/shared ideas. Be a sponge!

Social Distancing Game Ideas During COVID-19 Part 2!

how to create an antique pirate or treasure map

I posted some COVID-19 game ideas back in April, and wanted to do a follow up post with a few more ideas for you! As you are moving through Summer Day Camp or you may be preparing for the Fall, feel free to steal, and use any of these games/activities. This is a challenging time, and programming is tough, there is no doubt about it. I didn’t think this would last as long as it has, but here we are! If you continue to add new ideas in, this will help with staff and camper morale.

  1. Make A Treasure Map: Give the campers a piece of paper (Cardstock paper works well) to design a treasure map to find the hidden treasure around camp. Tell them to customize their map how they want or you can tell them to make the pirate map using camp locations. Either way, this is their map, and let them design. When they are done making it, have the campers dip the paper into tea to make the paper turn brown. If you don’t have a thick paper, you can still use regular paper, and have them sprinkle the tea on the paper. Either way, have fun! Have the camper tear the corners and have the counselor burn the edges to make it look like a real treasure map. Then actually have them find a fun “treasure” you have hid at camp by giving them fun clues. X marks the spot!
  2. Airplane Day: Have the campers design airplanes and build them. Tons of great resources online, Youtube, etc. Then have different competitions to see who has the best airplane. Most flips, go the farthest, go the highest, and biggest crash! Easy and fun activity where all the campers have their own paper and supplies.
  3. Nature Collage: Go outside with the campers and have them search different areas outside for cool nature things such as pine cones, sticks, blades of grass, leaves, etc..Have the campers arrange this on paper to make a fun collage. Tracing leaves is also a fun idea!
  4. Design A Robot: Tell the campers to design a robot that can do whatever they wish for. Have them take their paper, and draw their robot. Tell the campers to be prepared to have a story to tell others about what cool things their robot can do. Tell them to be creative, money is no object when building and designing the robot.
  5. Build, Destroy, Build: Give campers their own jenga blocks, legos, cubes, or items you can easily sanitize. You are going to have the campers use their own specific pieces you give them, and have them make their own creations/structures. Then have them destroy their creation, and have them make another. Tell them to not get upset because things are going to get destroyed. Give them different challenges such as building the tallest tower or the strongest structure than can hold a counselor binder or book,etc..
  6. String Maze: You can use chairs and the walls to tape string and weave in and out to make a fun obstacle course. The campers can climb over, under, or through. If they touch the string, they are out, and have to go back to the starting line. Duct tape works best, but use whatever you can find!
  7. 4 Corners: Have the person in the middle of the room and they are the caller. Make sure they keep their eyes closed. Have them count to 10, and the campers have to find a corner to go to. They must be 6 feet apart in their corner. If the caller calls their number, they are out. The last one standing wins!

Monday’s are very important. Make sure the counselors/staff do the following…

  1. Play a name game.
  2. Go over rules.
  3. Explain expectations in your huddle.
  4. Know if any of your campers have special needs and how to accommodate.
  5. Know camper’s names.
  6. All campers get a bead necklace (Great way to reward character development. (Can send you more info if you have questions.)

I hope some of these ideas will help you as you try and navigate this difficult time. Please share and steal ideas. I have tons of ideas posted in the Resource Zone.