FlingGolf – New Way To Get People On The Golf Course!

Need a great game to play outside while social distancing? Check out FlingGolf ! I cam across this the other day when searching for new games. FlingGolf has actually been around since 2014. Alex Van Alen came up with this idea, and has grown the sport to over 1,000 golf courses worldwide. I am located in NC, and there are several golf courses in my area that host FlingGolf. So how did Alex come up with this idea and what is it exactly? Alex grew up on a farm west of Philadelphia. He had always combined equipment with games such as football with skates or lacrosse with golf balls. He had thrown a golf ball with a lacrosse stick, but couldn’t get much distance. He wanted to throw the ball at least 200 yards and control with accuracy. So he designed some prototypes, and was able to get something designed! Now it was trying to find a place to play, and thought that maybe all golf courses wouldn’t be the stuffy, uptight places you see on TV. He spoke to some key people at a conference, and said this could be a way to infuse new energy to golf courses. No changes are needed at the golf courses and wouldn’t cost the owner anything. It is a great ROI because they are bringing new people to the course. They now have players playing from a local 9 hole place to Pinehurst or Pebble Beach. He has a lofty goal to have the players conquer all 15,000 golf courses in the U.S and 35,000 golf courses around the world. He is looking for people to pave the way, and to introduce FlingGolf to these other courses. So what is exactly FlingGolf and how do you play?

FlingGolf is a sport that is easy to start and fun to master. You play on any golf course, and instead of playing with a golf club, you use a New Swarm FlingStick thrower to hurl the ball and shape every shot from tee to hole. You can play in a foursome as well. The picture I shared on this post is a FlingStick and how it is constructed. They have junior and adult sized sticks. The junior stick is $89 and the adult sticks start at $119. They even have rental packages if you are needing these to host an event. If you want to learn more, visit their website at www.flinggolf.com.

I will add this to the Resource Zone on my website. The Resource Zone has tons of ideas to help make your program 1 percent better. Thanks for stopping by!

Justin Harris – Take It Personal (Great Devotion/Ice Breaker for your next meeting or program)

Justin Harris – University of Cincinnati (Twitter – @fatherofballers)

I have a simple and easy devotion or ice breaker to use for your next meeting or program. Justin Harris is a football player for the University of Cincinnati. On January 2nd, his team lost in the final minutes to the University of Georgia in a heart breaking loss. He decided to come out on the field and watch the whole trophy presentation. This photo I shared was taken by the father of a player on the University of Georgia. He was touched by this young man’s mentality to take it personal. In my opinion, I also see this photo representing his focus on the future and next season. Often in life, things don’t always go your way. How do you reflect and what do you learn from that moment? It is easy to blame others, or to not think about the situation. Sometimes you just have to say, “it’s nobody’s fault, they just beat us.” Adversity stinks, there is no way around it. Go through the valley, it will make the mountain top feel that much better. Here are some questions you could ask your participants, team, or co-workers.

  1. What is something you didn’t win and what did you learn? This can be anything from your past, doesn’t have to be losing a college football bowl game!
  2. Why is adversity such a hard thing?
  3. What do you think this picture represents to you?
  4. What can you do as a leader when adversity strikes or you lose?
  5. What can you do when things go your way or what have you learned when you hit that mountain top?

Devotions and Ice Breakers are important to programming. Just take 5-10 minutes to start your meeting or program. We all need to slow down and have time to talk to one another. Social skills are very important, and you have the opportunity to help strengthen this with your participants or team. I will drop this devotion in the Resource Zone. Tons of other devotions and ideas in there to help as well. Until next time!

Focus on what we can do, not what we can’t do! Social Distance Game Ideas

I attended the 2021 Campfire Conference virtually yesterday, and received a few things I wanted to share with you. With COVID-19 still looming, a great message as you approach your programs is to “Focus on what we can do, not what we can’t do”! I know it can be frustrating as many of you have been modifying programming since March. Hang in there, and take some of these ideas. Share your ideas with me too by emailing me at dustinjoelwilliams@gmail.com. Don’t forget to bring back some ideas that may have worked 5-7 years ago like “Minute To Win It” challenges or that fun Tic Tac Toe game where you would run to one end of the gym with a bean bag and drop it on floor, and run back to grab another bean bag. Do you remember those? I guarantee your kids and staff did, and some never played them because they were not even born yet. Here are some things I wanted to share with you from a workshop I attended with Chuck Steinfurth from the First Coast YMCA. Always shares great things!

  1. Soda Box Jenga – See if you can get some old soda boxes together and use as Jenga pieces. A cheap and easy way to play the game. The pieces are bigger and work perfectly outside or inside.
  2. Cereal Box Memory – Cut off the front of the cereal boxes and use as your memory pieces. There are so many different cereal brands, you can have a fun and challenging game.
  3. 50 Ways to use your pool noodle (Chris Cavert and Sam Sikes) – Tired of playing the same tag games? Grab this book and will help give you some new games. https://www.amazon.com/50-Ways-Use-Your-Noodle/dp/0964654113
  4. Rock Throwing Range “Think Outside The Rules” – Setup a space outside, and have a place where you can hang up some fun objects. (Metal pots, metal signs, rubber tire and just fun things to hit that can make a fun sound too. Great way to burn some energy. You can also use slingshots, and use corn or old dry dog food. Sounds random and silly, but its cheap and easy. Your kids will love it.
  5. Makerspace – It is a place where young people have an opportunity to explore their own interests; learn to use tools and materials, both physical and virtual; and develop creative projects. You will need to start with some common supplies like cardboard rolls, foil, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, construction paper, tape, coffee filters, cups, boxes, string, and anything really. Just have the kids make what they want. If you want to take it to another level, make something assigned like a Robot using the supplies. If you want to advance it some more, have them a complete a challenge with the supplies. Allow time to design, build, and present.
  6. Integrate Makerspace with STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Math). For example read a book like “The Three Little Pigs”. Then identify the challenge (House will be blown down), Draw a solution, and build a project. Test it out by using a box fan for the wind!

A great thing to do as you are planning for Week 1 is to create a space and culture for creativity with your campers and staff. Have them invent the game. Set it up where they can (DEVELOP, PRESENT, and PLAY). You may find your next big game for Summer 2021 from inside your own camp. I hope some of these will help you. Until next time!

The Fire Keeps Going in 2021!

Cheers to 2021! Thanks for reading and following youthprogramfire.com for another year. In 2020, my website reached record page views and visitors. In 2020, I received 19,831 official page views and 13,900 visitors. This has opened up new doors to work with S&S Worldwide who is one of the top youth programs supply companies in the US. I was also able to be a speaker at Campfire Conference prior to COVID-19 and share this with YMCA’s all over the East Coast and in the Midwest. I did a post last week thanking many of the wonderful companies and people that had awesome ideas/products. Thank you again! I do this project on the side as a fun hobby, and I am proud that I have stuck with it during the slow times where I didn’t have many visitors or page views. I stayed with it because I know if I just help one person that’s worth it. Many of these ideas helped my career/program, and I want to help you.

I say all of this to let you know that the mission and vision of this website hasn’t changed. I am here to share ideas to make your youth program the best it can be. It is not just YMCA’s where I currently work, it is for PE classes, Parks and Recreation departments, Youth Groups/Young Life Clubs, and Birthday parties. If you are needing devotions, ice breakers, contests, songs, and just about anything else I have you covered. Check out my Resource Zone, I continue to add files for you to pull straight off your phone inside your program or for you to print off to add to your game notebook or to post for your staff.

Please reach out to me if you have an idea or product you want me to highlight! You can email me at dustinjoelwilliams@gmail.com and learn more in the About section on my page. As you can see, you will get some great exposure by posting it on my website. The website is viewed by over 120 countries and is not just in the United States. I have had messages recently from Hong Kong, New York, and Ireland! I am happy to help you. Have a great day!

A Leadership Devotion Heading Into 2021!

As we go into 2021, I came across this old quote that I saved from a few years ago that I wanted to share. I love to reflect on this and I encourage you to keep a saved folder in your inbox or a place to go back to quotes that can motivate or challenge you. This quote always hits me right in the stomach. I often move from week to week or program to program, but we don’t always reflect on how we got there or who helped us along the way. It is just the nature of the beast of work sometimes, but you should never ignore your impact. It is also important to stop making excuses and saying “this is how this work goes, there is no time to pause.” If you supervise people, please remember to never underestimate the influence you have on your people and those watching you. Your decision making is important, and like I mentioned we sometimes don’t take into consideration the impact even a small decision, email, or recommendation can have. If 2020 taught us anything, it is to pause and slow down. It taught me to collaborate even more, think differently, and most importantly lead differently. The people/staff make the programs. It’s not the nicest equipment, facilities, and things that make the program, it’s the people you are leading. It is also the community you are serving, they may be your staff, volunteer or even donor one day. Hopefully like a mentor once told me, you are training and preparing the staff for your job or their next career one day. Hold high expectations, be blunt, and don’t try and be best friends with the people you supervise. Just listen, love on them, and help them in their job. We all want to be happy, and if you can check those boxes you will be a great leader. This is my opinion, and not everyone you will lead will understand in the moment, but hopefully one day they will. I often tell my staff I love the teachers that challenged me. I didn’t like them in the moment, but I will always remember them. It shaped me, and helped me understand that in life everything isn’t easy. Anything you really want or love, you have to work for it.

Share this devotion with your teams! Ask them these 3 questions…

1.What does this quote mean to you?

2.How will you lead differently in 2021?

3.Who has made an impact on your life and why?

Christmas Toys That Work In Youth Programs!

As we wrap up the 2020 holiday season, I thought it would be a good idea to feature a few Christmas toys that I came across. Instead of playing Connect Four or Mancala, these toys can work in your youth programs, and maybe give your participants and staff a new spark. I know budgets can be tight right now, so modify or make your plan based off your enrollment. Being mindful of your budget, and having a plan is key to program quality. I have seen programs with tons of kids, and using the same equipment from three years ago. The participants deserve nice things and not stale programming. You may not be able to buy anything, so save this and get it for Summer Day Camp which will be here in less than six months! The bright side about COVID-19 is that we have an even bigger appreciation for sharing things and ideas with in our own programs. It is OK to not spend money, some of the best games are sold by you the staff member and the enthusiasm you bring to that activity. Don’t forget your creative kids and staff, they may have an idea or activity they want to create or invent. For those looking to buy in 2021 or need ideas for Summer, here are some toys that could be fun for your program….

  1. Plinko – If you have seen the “Price Is Right”, you have heard of “Plinko”. If you haven’t heard of the “Price Is Right”, please get your life together and go to YouTube fast. This is sold at Target and other places. It is $31.99 right now at Target. Great game for Rides In/Out aka when kids are dropped off or waiting to get picked up. https://www.target.com/p/plinko-play-the-price-is-right-39-s-most-popular-game-at-home/-/A-79396282. You can also build this yourself, will take some time, but I have had staff do this before and the kids love it too!
  2. Skee Ball – Too bad most arcades are still not around. I grew up on this game. It is $27.99 right now at Target. Another great game for Rides In/Out. https://www.target.com/p/skeeball-the-classic-arcade-game/-/A-53275985. You could modify this or create a fun contest if you didn’t have the money right now. Many fun contest ideas in the Resource Zone on my website too!
  3. Monopoly – Kids love this game. I mention many times on the website, that simple and basic wins too. There are tons of versions of this game, some for younger and some for older. We have used double dice before, and a great way to sneak in some Math, check this link..https://creativemathematics.com/itndex.php?route=product/product&product_id=147. I also like the rules and gameplay in “Monopoly Cheater’s Edition”. Check that one out https://www.walmart.com/ip/Monopoly-Game-Cheaters-Edition-for-Ages-8-and-Up/845273886. Most games range from $13 to $25 or so. You can also do this yourself, and make a life sized monopoly game. I will talk about these in a fun post in January if you want more clarity or how to!
  4. Air Hogs, Zero Gravity Racer – A great car that you can have the kids race and keep social distance at the same time. Setup an indoor or outdoor track and have a contest to see who is the best racer at your program. The cars are on sale at Amazon at $18.73 and free shipping for over $25. Check the link out to learn more...https://www.amazon.com/Air-Hogs-Gravity-Laser-Guided-Climbing/dp/B07NJHYXMD
  5. Nerf Halo Motorized Blaster – Any Nerf gun can work, this one is just really cool! It is sold out on Walmart.com but something to keep an eye on when it comes back in stock. Kids can wear gloves and have target practice, setup an obstacle course and time them on how fast they can hit targets, etc…Nerf wars are very popular! This one is $49,99, but can find Nerf guns from around $19.99. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Nerf-Halo-MA40-Motorized-Blaster-Removable-10-Dart-Clip-10-Darts/756200567
  6. Botley The Coding Robot – A great STEM project and also features “Screen Free” playing. No phone, tablet, to use. This is for 5 and up. You can find on Amazon for $50.50 and free shipping. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B083T5G5ZK?linkCode=ogi&tag=goodhousekeeping_auto-append-20&ascsubtag=[artid|10055.g.31132135[src|[ch|[lt|sale
  7. Outside – This isn’t sold in stores. If you can get your participants outside, please do it! Have them be creative, explore, pretend play, just do what we did when we were kids. Relay races, kite flying, lay in a field and look at clouds, etc…Time to get off the screens, and breathe the fresh air.

This is just my top 6 toys that I either saw on my timeline or found during my own hunt for cool things for my kiddos. I hope this list helps bring in some new creative programming for you in 2021. Nerf Wars/Contests is something I want to research some more. Many YMCA’s, Parks and Recreation, and Youth Group’s have hosted or held these recently. Not sure of the success, but I remember having fun with these back in the day. Remember ask your participants what they want to do. They may say “I don’t know, and walk away” or they may give you the next BIG game for your program. If you hear of something, share with me and I will post in 2021!

Thank You To The People/Companies That Made This An Awesome 2020!

I hope you have had a Happy Holidays! We all know that 2020 has been a crazy year, but for my website, it has had great success. I wanted to genuinely say thank you and highlight these important people again. Pleas visit their website, buy their product, or just share this with your network. We are all stronger together, and I think this is why I have seen so much traffic and visitors in 2020. If you are reading this, I want to say thank you to you as well. Ideas are shared, and this is why I keep doing this for fun. Now it’s time to get to the shout outs….

  1. In January I featured ” On Top Ball Toss” by Bob Schirmer. A great balance between a fun recreational activity and a friendly competitive environment. Check their website out ontopballtoss.com. It was $129,95 now on sale for $99.95.
  2. In January another great game I featured was QB54 by Michael and Frank Silva from New Jersey. A game that started with 2 trash cans and a football that has turned into an even better game with tailgating chairs, field goal posts, and much more. Check this game out on playqb54.com and products starting at $134.99.
  3. Every January, there is a great conference called Campfire that is held at Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, NC. I was able to be a presenter at participant this year. I found some great ideas, and highlighted a few. Eli Cochran from Camp Ernst shared ideas around creating a safe and inclusive environment. Heard from two fantastic speakers named Mark Johnson and Sam Stecher with their idea around missionmonday.com. I also shared a great YouTube video by Jude Dooley that Chick-fil-A uses for their staff and community called “Every Life Has A Story”. I also did a post in February from a song called Bread and Butter Monday, awesome new jam! The conference will be virtual next month, You can register online at ycampfire.org/.
  4. In February, I featured Qubits. This is a great STEM/STEAM style building product created by Lisa and Mark Burginger. This is produced in North Carolina. To learn more, visit their website at qubitstoy.com.
  5. In March, I featured this video from Jason Smith called “To Save The World, Send a Kid To Summer Camp!”. Powerful message, and added to the Resource Zone.
  6. In March, I featured an idea I saw from the Pennsylvania Department of Education that changed the wording from Muffins with Moms or Donuts with Dads to Donuts with Grownups or Breakfast with Buddies. Powerful message, but also great to have parent committees to help guide your work and see what you community needs.
  7. In March, I featured “Be A Mr. Jensen” YouTube video from ClintPulver.com. A great message around how a single moment of time can change a person’s life.
  8. In March, I featured “Warphole” invented by a team of brothers from Ohio! An awesome way and has some fun variations that make it more fun than your typical game of cornhole. Thanks for sending me this product. A big hit with our staff. Check them out at http://warpholebags.com and you can purchase the standard boards for $139.99.
  9. I live on Twitter. You can follow me at “mayordwilliams”. I am always retweeting Inky Johnson. A great public speaker and shred a message about how pain, redirection, setbacks shortcomings, highs or lows, are all part of the process. If you have never heard of him follow him on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/InkyDJohnson.
  10. In April I featured Retropie aka “Old School Video Gaming” for youth programs. Check them out at www.titansplay.com. The one I featured and have is $124.95 and currently sold out. When it goes back live, check it out. 6,300 video games from Nintendo, Sega, Super Nintendo, N64, and tons of others. Great game to teach kids about this growing and vibrant business.
  11. In April, I featured “Growga” that was created by Emily Behr. Their mission is to make mindfulness accessible to all. Check them out at http://mygrowga.com. It is based out of Raleigh, NC, but has offerings all over NC and in Charleston, SC.
  12. In April as the pandemic began to really settle in, I featured Hoo Rags. A great product to keep your staff, participants and team safe. Check them out at hoorag.com
  13. In May, I featured “Penalty Box” a great exercise product that you can you kids and staff active inside or outside with over 119 exercises. Check them out at http://penaltyboxtraining.com.
  14. In June, I featured “Air Hockey – COVID style”. Stumbled upon this from the Middlebranch-Avondale PE program. A great resource that has shared my ideas and I love as well is www.pecentral.org.
  15. In June, I featured Space Ideas from the University of Central Florida. Great way to add in STEM as these jobs are growing at an alarming rate. www.ucf.edu/online/engineering/news/five-stem-space-activities/
  16. In July, I featured the old school game called “Dots” from my YMCA colleague Chuck Steinfurth based out of Florida. He has great ideas, and helped with some of the content this year as I researched new games online during a crazy year.
  17. In August, I featured Josh Jarman’s “Life Rules”. He was an old colleague and great leader. Some awesome tips for a devotion and included in my Resource Zone.
  18. In November, I heard from a student name Ella from New York. I shared her idea about Virtual Roadtrips.
  19. Towards the end of 2020, I was able to partner with S&S Worldwide (www.ssww.com), A great company that I have purchased products from to make my programs successful and also guide programmers on what and where to find things.

Thank you again everyone for helping making this website a place that people can find ideas to make their programs 1 percent better. I hope you all have a great 2021, and continue to share this with anyone you see. I will post in a few days about the actual reach of this website and traffic it has generated in 2020. Stay tuned, and thank you again!

PoetChristmasTree and Waving At Your Kids!

Poetry and Waving is the post for this week! I have two basic ideas that will help you with programming and customer service. If you have made it this far into 2020 serving kids and families, I send a huge thank you. A majority of my posts involve active games, but you need to have a balance of active and non-active in your programming or play book. I like to call programming a play book, because this is how you will attack the day. Some days call for different plays, it may be because of the cold/rainy weather, it could be you are down a staff member, it could be super nice outside, so many variables.

So lets dive into the first play call, Poetry. Many of your campers may not be gifted athletically, but they may be in writing. Teach them about poetry! I am not good at poetry, I think I remember writing a limerick when I was in school, but that is about it. If you are like me, this doesn’t mean you don’t add this programming into your program because you don’t like it or have no idea on where to begin. First, start with finding a staff member that is good or likes this. If you still can’t find someone, check with your older campers and see if they want to lead it with your guidance to the younger campers. Teach them about all the different kinds of poems that you can create. One website that is a good resource is https://www.poetry4kids.com/poems/. You can find many resources just searching around. Once you have given some guidance and instruction, have the kids choose a style of poem and put it on a Poetree or PoetChristmasTree. That is a play on words if you are still confused! This is a great way to show off the poem to the other campers. If you are using a YMCA, school or church, a great way for other teachers, members, and the community to see their work. This will give them a since of pride. As someone involved in youth programming, getting them practice outside the classroom adds even more value to your After School program if the conversation comes up of “What do you do there?’ or “Should we keep the After School program”. Show your parents, kids, and community that you are more than just playing dodgeball, playground, or tag games!

Waving at your kids, parents, and anyone in your program is the next play call! You may say, I already do this, waving is easy. But do you really practice it? Since we are wearing masks, and it looks like we will continue to do this for a little while longer, you just can’t smile through the mask. Teach your staff how to wave enthusiastically, come up with their own wave, or even find another partner and tag team the wave. Customer service is key right now. With the pandemic, I think about customer service in youth programs as their mental health. Everyone is stressed, your fun wave could change their whole day. Think about that, just you being enthusiastic with your wave could make their day. First impressions make or break you too. You may have someone new trying this out, and this could sell them to your program. Put on a fun costume, use themes, use music as you are putting them into their cars. Create the “Disney” experience without the “Disney” budget!

I hope this post helps! Check the Resource Zone for more fun ideas to make your program 1 percent better.

Winter Olympics – Social Distance Style!

If you are needing a fun programming idea, try implementing Winter Olympics into your program. I typically use this for a theme week during Track Out or Summer Day Camp. I have also used it for programming during After School when the actual Olympics were taking place, and spread it out over a whole month. There are many ways, so that’s why this is great and easy to use. When I was in middle school, we had a teacher that tracked the medals each day, and had them posted on her door. It was fun to see how countries that were in the lead drop or rise. It also made me feel special to be a helper in updating them for her. Many of the ideas I use on this website have been memories from my childhood. I have always wanted children to have the chance to have the same fun memory I had. When programming for your kids and staff, it’s a good starting point. In many cases, your staff and kids have never heard of what you are talking about, and you get to see that fun in their eyes. With this idea of Winter Olympics, you may be asking, how do you do this with children in this kind of setting? Here are some ideas that have been tweaked some for COVID-19 and keeping kids and staff safe while social distancing.

1.”Ice” Hockey Clinic – Due to COVID-19, instead of playing the game, switch to using a clinic. Give everyone a hockey stick. I love these from S&S Worldwide https://www.ssww.com/item/spectrum-hockey-sticks-36-W4821/. Have the kids play in their socks on the gym floor, cafeteria floor, or honestly any floor. This will give the kids the experience of being on “ice” and having it feel slippery. For the clinics, have them go around cones with the stick and plastic puck https://www.ssww.com/item/spectrum-lightweight-hollow-plastic-floor-hockey-pucks-W9649/. If you don’t have pucks, you can use tennis balls or any object you can find depending on your budget. Have them practice by shooting on a goal https://www.ssww.com/item/spectrum-pro-hockey-goal-56-w-x-46-h-W8159/. If you don’t have a goal, have them shoot in between two cones, and tell them it counts if it is below the knee height. Have them pass the puck to each other. Have them do a drill with a partner 6 feet apart and try to score on the goal together. See if they can work on bein accurate with their pass, and have a cone for them to hit. These are a few drills, also good to look up more by searching indoor floor hockey drills. Tons of things available.

2. Speed Skating/Figure Skating – Socks on the gym or cafeteria floor. Have them practice starting and stopping. Going around cones. Skating to music around the gym. Have them select their music and skate for 2 minutes to the song with their own routine just like in figure skating. Have judges, and make the child plan/be creative with costumes, etc..

3. Curling – Many ways to do this. I have done simple version of using brooms and a gator ball https://www.ssww.com/item/gator-skin-iceball-8-ball-W14328/ and had the kid roll the ball slowly and the kids use the brooms on the side to brush the “ice”. Ball that lands in the designated zone you create wins. You can have a spot that get 10 points, 5 points, and 1 point. There are also indoor curing games you can buy https://www.magiccabin.com/p/733183?aff=5123&gclid=CjwKCAiAlNf-BRB_EiwA2osbxbRZ0UHcQLTu5DbblrRgmUuCwZEkD0FlednDvCTybyqYdu2bHxkjixoCL8sQAvD_BwE and play too! Again, it all depends on your budget.

4. Luge – Grab your scooter, and get ready to scoot across the ‘”ice”. Use your scooter https://www.ssww.com/item/spectrum-all-surface-scooter-12-W12944/ and have the kids space apart. This works in parking lots as well. Have the kids race against each other, or have time trials depending on the number of kids and if you can’t keep an age group separated due to social distancing. Play fun upbeat music, I have a list of fun songs in the DJ Playlist section of my website.

5. Cross Country Ski – Set up a course outside. The kids must have two hockey sticks in their hands as the “ski poles”. They are not allowed to run, but can walk fast. If they run they must go back to starting line. The first person to cross the finish line wins. Have fun things for them to go around (Fake Tree or Real Tree) or cones for them to go around. The goal is to make it feel like they have went on a long journey.

6. Soccer Clinics on the Frozen Tundra – I always like to add in another game that may not be “Winter Olympics” to give some more variety but also get people outside if possible. You can choose any game and say “Frozen Tundra” haha.

These are my top 5-6 games for this event, there are many other things you can add by looking online. If you are a fan of the show “The Office”, try the game “Flankerton” where they have cartons of paper strapped to their feet! Most importantly, how do you want to recognize the kids that do win the medals. Like in the show “The Office” you can make medals, or you can buy them. It is important to recognize the winners, and to build that skill development into the program. You can also post the winners of your medals in your program area and newsletter. Put it on closed FB groups and use as a talking point when you engage with the parent during Rides Out (Pick-Up) time.

Remember with “Winter Olympics” you can create this experience many different ways! Be creative, decorate your program if you can, pretend they are hosted in a city or country. Teach the kids about the different countries through trivia or other fun ways. Kids need your fun and energy right now! Have fun, they are watching you!

Summer in December! COVID-19 Activities

I have always loved utilizing the Christmas in July theme! One year when I was a Director, I decided to switch it up and do Summer in December. I got tired of doing some of the same things over and over, and I felt like the kids/staff needed a switch up after Thanksgiving. Most of my staff are getting in the mix of exams and some are just tired from the long year. Teachers and churches do such a great job during this time of the year with activities, I wanted to bring in something extra to my programming and some Summer heat during a cold and dark time. If you operate an After School program, you know that it gets dark around 5:00pm now, so the program can feel a little stale as you head back inside or have to stay inside due to the cold temperatures. In this post, I will give you some ideas and activities to help bring Summer in December to your youth program. So slap on the sunscreen, put on your favorite bathing suit, and lets hit the beach…

1.Sit Down Beach Volleyball – Sitting 6 feet apart, kids can play sit down beach volleyball. We did this in elementary school back in the 80’s and I still remember having so much fun. We stayed in our desks, and the teacher used string and tape to be our “net”. Same philosophy here, just use a big space in the gym or room you have. Give kids gloves, and let them play since they are sharing a ball. Rotate serving, and play just like you would a game of volleyball. Play some fun beach music in the background!

2. Luau! Limbo, Hula Dance, Fruit Skewers – Have a fun party! Make the line 6 feet apart and have the kids go under the stick, jump rope, whatever is easiest to sanitize as you switch out your helpers, or have them wear gloves. Play fun beach music at your Luau and teach them how to hula dance. This is a cool video from YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVyWRhyxr9U and tons of others, I just like this one as it is to Lilo and Stich movie song that kids could relate to. Do a fun snack and have fruit skewers and fruit punch. It is healthy, kids can grab in a social distance line and eat 6 feet apart.

3. Photo Scavenger Hunt – Go around your program finding Summer related items. Sunscreen, beach towel, sand toys, goggles, beach ball, etc. Using phone, take social distance pictures of the kids with item.

4. Hot Coconut – Sitting 6 feet apart, pass the” coconut” ball around the circle. Same as hot potato, just a play on words. Use gloves!

5. Beach Bingo – Spread 6 feet apart, and get your BINGO board. Use cheerios as the Bingo Pieces. Great game to play during the end of your program as you are waiting for parents to pick up. Do signups to control crowd, and invite Mom/Dad/Caregiver to play with their child. You could do this outside if weather permits. Great BINGO game on S&S Worldwide, https://www.ssww.com/item/bingo-calling-cards-yellow-16672/ and https://www.ssww.com/item/large-print-bingo-cards-GA2040/. Huge cards and numbers make for this to be an easy way for kids to help and understand.

6.Bocce Ball – Use gloves and a great and easy game to remain 6 feet apart.

7. Tiki Torch Ring Toss – Get some tiki torches, don’t light ofcourse, and have the kids throw some rings over the tiki torches. Use gloves when sharing. Easy game to remain 6 feet apart. https://www.ssww.com/item/ring-toss-set-HC69/ and use these rings. They are small and present a fun challenge!

8. Go Fishing – Setup a curtain or something to block the view of the kid fishing. Use an actual fishing pole or make something that has a clothes pin on the end. On the other side of the curtain have one of your staff attach a fun treat to the clothes pin . They “hooked” the fish when that happens. Great game for younger kids. Use gloves when sharing fishing pole.

9. Freeze Dance – Just a classic game, never gets old. Play beach music, and when the music stops everyone freezes. The person that wins, can control the music and be the game leader. You can have 2-3 people being the game leaders as well. Easy game to keep kids 6 feet apart.

10. Finding Nemo – Some great messages and things to discuss for downtime. https://medium.com/cinemania/the-beautiful-hidden-messages-of-finding-nemo-d6b2a2c421ca and there are tons of other resources if you just google “Finding Nemo messages, devotions, etc..”

No theme is complete without dressing up. Have some dress up days communicated out in advance for parents to prepare for their kids. Make it simple since this is being paired with an after school or track out program probably. It is fun to see staff wearing fun Summer attire as teachers, principals, and parents ask “What is going on today?!”. Brings positive attention to your program, and may even convince someone to give your program a try if they ride the bus or do carpool everyday. Great way to build enrollment and help your budget. Staff need some extra love towards the end of the year as well. For your staff, do an all inclusive resort theme, and bring them snacks, carry their stuff to their car, let them go home early for a “Spa Day”. There are things you can do on a small budget or just things that don’t cost anything at all. Decide on a specific day and give some extra love to your kids. Say today is “Sandal’s Resorts Day” and our staff will carry your book bag to the car. Wear gloves of course and stay 6 feet apart. Remember Christmas isn’t always perfect for everyone, so if you can bring a smile to a kid or parent’s face, then you have had a successful Summer in December! More fun ideas located on the Resource Zone on my website. I hope you enjoyed this post, and remember to steal and share ideas with others.