Retropie, Old School Video Games! Middle School and Older Camper Program Idea.

I hope everyone is doing good and finding creative ways to occupy your time and mind during this crazy time. I recently came across this system on an ad on Facebook from http://titansplay.com. It is a retro emulation station with over 6,000 games from various systems running on a Retropie 3b. This basically means, this system can load any game without having to have the cartridge or video game system in front of you. If you grew up on these games like I did, you will appreciate not having to blow into the cartridge or have something not load because the disc is scratched. I am not sure how long this idea has been around, I do know this concept has increased in popularity when Nintendo released in small demand about 2 years ago the Mini Nintendo System that played tons of games for only $59.99. If you are wondering how this can be implemented into your youth program, I will explain!

The latest video games are expensive, the controllers are complicated sometimes for younger audiences, and the older games/systems have tons of options. Puzzles, Sports, Adventure, and just a wide variety of creative concepts. In youth programming, you definitely want to have a balance of video games in your program. It shouldn’t take over the program, kids/teens should have a healthy balance of anything you are doing with them. My vision for this awesome system is to utilize as a club or clinic. I call clubs or clinics in my programming a choice for kids to go to during the day. Not all kids/teens like video games. You may be reading this and be completely uninterested. The one thing with youth programming is that there is a wide audience that wants options for their day. You can call this time of you program day anything you want, I use the word clubs during After School and clinics during Summer Camp. It is all your preference. I would name the club or clinic “Retro Video Gaming.” We would teach the skill around how to create a video game emulator like this one, how to play some of these games, the history of video games, and careers in the video game industry. Epic Games is based out of Cary, NC. This is near my program. There are also tons of video game info on YouTube and online to teach them. I would even have them create their own video game, by writing out the concept, drawing a story board, and creating a small business plan. You can filter your clinic around the age group. To keep any age group involved, you definitely want to play the games to get inspired, learn, and have fun. My Top 10 games are….1.NBA Jam (Any version) 2. Super Mario 64 3. Super Mario 3 4. Kid Icarus 5. Bubble Bobble 6. Skate or Die 7. NHL on Sega/SNES 5 8. California Games 9. NFL Blitz 10. Streets of Rage. I am not a big Zelda fan, but teaching kids how to play this would be really cool. it is such a challenging game.

This system I purchased comes with two wired controllers (5ft) (they were sold out of the wireless controllers), but working with kids the wired controllers are fine, they always stay charged. It has an hdmi cord, and AC power adapter. The last thing it has is the Retropie system (Mini Super Nintendo). So very simple and easy to setup at your program. You can move it and go anywhere. The system was around $120 with shipping, and usually takes 5-7 business days. This price can work with your camp or program budget. To learn more about this system, go to http://titansplay.com and they will also respond to emails or messages on Facebook. I would give this system a 9 out of 10. It would be perfect if it had more college basketball and football options and the Nintendo 64 games wouldn’t glitch. They tell you this before you buy, so no fault on them! Video Games are not bad, they are great in moderation. Add them into your program, teach kids a little history too, and how this can be a career. In youth development, it is your job to teach them skill development. I have more fun ideas posted in the Resource Zone on my website. Check this out to make your program 1 percent better!

Morning Workout!

There is nothing better than Justin Bieber and T.Swift during a morning workout. We created a video for you to use with your kids to get them moving in the morning and get their energy out. You can use any music or variations of exercises. All you need is music and open space. You can do this outside or inside. We like to do Morning Workouts at our Summer Day Camps to get the campers ready for the day. This is a great thing to do with your kids to get them ready for their day. The YMCA of the Triangle has a YouTube page https://www.youtube.com/user/YMCATriangle where we have added several videos and also we have a Virtual YMCA page at https://www.ymcatriangle.org/virtual-ymca with classes and exercises for adults and resources for you to have too.

I will upload this video to the Resource Zone on my website. I love to share ideas. Check it out!

Inky Johnson – Great Message for Staff Meetings, Staff Trainings, and Devotions

Inky Johnson is a motivational speaker and former college football player for the University of Tennessee. His football career ended in 2006 with an injury that permanently paralyzed his right arm. Since this injury, he has used this to help motivate and lead others wherever they are in life. In our youth programs we should be thinking of new ways to lead and inspire our campers and teams. Inky is the perfect person to deliver a message to start a staff meeting, training, or devotion. You can find him anywhere on social media including his YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/user/InkyDJohnson. I have included one of my favorite posts that you can steal and use that I saw on Twitter! Video clips are a great way to engage your audience. They get to take a break from you talking and a chance to reflect so they can answer questions and begin to have dialogue with one another.

Questions To Ask The Group From This Short Video Clip…

  1. Have you ever wanted something but you didn’t put in the effort?
  2. Why is it hard to put in the effort? Did you actually want it?
  3. Have you ever thought you wanted something, but you changed your mind? Why did you change your mind?
  4. What does this quote mean to you? “You can’t be who you want to be and who you used to be at the same time.”
  5. What does this quote mean to you? “Sacrifice is the prerequisite to growing.”

You can ask any questions, these five can be your guide. This type of message is geared towards older campers and staff. I wouldn’t suggest this for younger campers as the content and questions are deeper. I will upload this devotion to the Resource Zone and also highlight Inky in the Leadership Tools section on my website. My website is for you to steal and share ideas to make your program fire!

Ball Over The Roof!

You may be wondering why there is a random roof of a house pictured above? My brother and cousins used to play a game where we would throw a football over the roof of my Grandma’s house and try to catch it. That’s it, that’s the game. Long before social distancing and pandemics existed, kids actually played outside. We didn’t have phones to stare at, Nintendo was cool, but nothing beat playing with your friends and family outside. So how do you play “Ball Over The Roof” and what are some versions I can play?

1. Tonight I showed my daughter who is 6 an easy version. We have a huge rubber bouncy ball that we threw up on the roof and watched it bounce waiting for it to come crashing back down to the driveway. She thought it was hilarious. Added some variations and put some stuff in the driveway to hit “targets”. Bicycle, water table, and a random plate that fits on top of the water table. If the target got hit, you won points. She is 6, so it doesn’t matter how you track. We then advanced to throwing it up on the roof and becoming human targets as we turned our backs and covered our heads with our hands. It doesn’t hurt since it’s inflatable, but she is 6 so things like that work!

2. My version I mentioned earlier. If you are older, use a football and toss that over the house. You can use an inflatable ball and try to catch it as well. Anything to throw over the house is fun because you never know where it’s coming until you hear the person say “Ready” or “Fire Away” something like that so you don’t get a broken nose!

3. You can play taps, especially with shorter or flat roofs. This can be multiple people playing. One person throws it on roof, next person must catch the ball in mid air before it hits ground and throw it back up on roof, and next person…if you drop it, or miss getting ball back on roof you are out. Perfect game for resident camps when you have a cabin full of bored boys or girls.

That’s the game! Nothing special, you just need a ball and a roof. Enjoy and stay safe out there. Playing outside is good for your mental health. I have more fun ideas on my website. Check them out in the Resource Zone.

Running On Empty? Virtual Field Trips, Educational Links, and Game Ideas

Do you feel like you are running on empty as you try to navigate staying at home? I have some virtual field trips, educational links, and game ideas to help you out. I will do some outside ideas on a different post. Take a look around my website, content added weekly, and I have tons of ideas, videos, and things for you to try out with your child or for your own entertainment with friends/family. Beg, borrow, and steal ideas. We are all in this together!

Virtual Field Trips

1. Disney Theme Parks – Several virtual rides have been uploaded to YouTube. Just search Virtual Disney Rides. Check out this link for a great list as well https://thepointsguy.com/news/virtual-disney-rides/

2. Museums – Check out this link to see ideas for 12 virtual tours. https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours

3. Zoos – Who doesn’t love animals? Love the San Diego Zoo https://kids.sandiegozoo.org/videos

Check out this great link for the 25 amazing virtual field trips for 2020. https://www.weareteachers.com/best-virtual-field-trips/

Educational Links

1. Learn all about Dr. Seuss. https://www.seussville.com/

2. Science Fun – https://www.highlightskids.com/

3. Learn all about Animals – https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/

Huffington Post just shared a cool article for free education links. Check this story https://www.huffpost.com/entry/free-online-learning-activities-for-kids_l_5e73848dc5b63c3b648bc968

21 Fun Game Ideas

Dollar Drop: Have a kid stand up and hold their hands out with their palms facing. Hold a dollar bill over the opening in their hands. The object is for them to try and catch the dollar bill between their hands. If you don’t want to loose the dollar bill, make sure their hands are spread wide enough apart, and that you hold the dollar bill close enough to drop all the way through!

Starburst Taste: You can use starburst or any other flavored candy, have the kids close their eyes, unwrap a piece of candy for them and have them guess what flavor it is.

What’s In My Pocket/Bag: Think of something that is in your pocket/bag and have the kids try to guess what you are thinking of…It can really be in your pocket, or you can say you wish this item is in your pocket. Your key chain also works great. Ask them to guess what each key goes to.

Balancing: Have a balancing contest. Call up a couple kids and see who can balance on one leg the longest. Make it harder by adding things you have to close your eyes, or pat your head, and rub your stomach.

Who Wants To Be In My Club: Make a patterned hand movement. Call up one kid at a time to repeat what you have just done. Than can be an ongoing game throughout the day.

Going On A Cruise: Start off by saying, “My name is ______, _______ and I am going on a cruise. On this cruise I am going to bring a _____ and ______. These two items have to start with a certain letter of your name. The first item is in your first name and the second item is in your last name. (Ex. MY name is Dustin Williams and I am going to bring Doritos and Waffles.) Have the kids tell two things that they are going to bring. If the first letter of the two items they are bring are in the same place in their name as yours than they can go on the cruise with you!

What’s Different: Pick someone to go away from the room and change three things about their appearance that the group could see. Bring them back and see if they can guess what they changed.

Trivia: Kids love to learn anything about you. Ask them questions like what color car do I drive, foods, restaurants, sports teams, etc.. You can make the questions harder depending on their age.

Spin Catch: Get a tennis ball and have the kid bounce the ball on the ground, spin around one time and catch the ball. If they catch the ball, have them spin around twice and catch it. Switch it up and have them use one hand to catch it.

Claps: Have a kid grab a small ball (Gator Ball) and have them throw it in the air. While it’s in the air see how many times you can clap before it hits the ground. You must catch the ball too.

Cup Balance: Get a paper or plastic cup and fill it 1/4 of the way up with water. Have them sit with their legs crossed on the ground. Place the cup on their head and have them slowly try to get to a standing position. If they can do that, you can have them lay on their back, place the cup on their forehead and then try to get to a stand position. Challenging Variation:  They can’t use their hands to get them up.

Jump The Dollar: Get a dollar bill or any other object about the same size. Place it on the floor. Have a camper get real close to it, with their feet. Next have them grab the tip of their shoes then try to jump completely over the dollar without letting go of their shoes.

Keep Up The Balloon: Depending on how many kids or people you have, divide the kids into 2 or 3 groups or even just one group. See how long they can keep the balloon in the air. If one group’s balloon hits the ground, they have to sit and wait for the other group to finish. (You can’t catch the balloon, only hit it up.)

Balloon Relay: Have each couple only hold the balloon up with their chests, hips, or backs. Working together they must walk to the wall or cone and back. (They can’t use their hand, only after it hits the ground can they use their hands to put in back in place and continue the relay.)

Make Me Smile: Find someone who can keep a straight face. Pick a few kids to participate. Each kid gets one minute to act silly, say dumb things, to make that person crack a smile. The straight face person has to stare at them the entire time. The person trying to make them smile cannot touch  them at all. Variation – Have the straight face person hold water in their mouth, if they spit it out or dribbles out, they lose!

Intuition: Think of a number between 1 and 10, kind of a cereal, cartoon, or candy bar. Next, ask the kids “Who can tell me what_____ I am thinking about?” Let every one who raises their hand guess one a time. After each person has one guess, say everyone who said ____, stand up. You have good intuition.

Imitation: Pick a few kids and see who can do the best imitation of a particular animal, cartoon character, scary monster, or even a counselor. Use your imagination. The options are limitless.

Stand Up Fast: Have a few kids sit down on the ground with their legs crossed. When you say go, see who can get to their feet the fastest. Variation: This time, they can’t use their hands to help push themselves off the ground. They have to keep their hands on top of their head.

Act Out A Career: Simply have kids act out what they want to be when they grow up. They can’t make any sounds.

The Name Game: Divide the group/family into two teams. One person in each group must be designated to be the spokesperson, no one else in the group can yell out anything.  Have them name as many as they can: Cereals, Cartoons, Candy, Colors, Restaurants, Animals that begin with a certain letter (Choose one or make up their own category.) Go back and forth until one group cannot come up with an answer.

Relay Races: Tons of Variations! 1. Run 2. Skip 3. One Leg Hop 4. Walk Backwards 5. Hop Backwards 6. Crab Walk 7. Chicken Cluck 8. Baby Crawl 9. Holding Hands With Their Partner 10. Leap Frog 11. Rolly Polly 12. Summersault 13. Gallup 14. Bear Crawl

Thanks for stopping by. I add content weekly to this website and tons of ideas are located in the Resource Zone tab. Will add some outdoor activities soon!

Warphole – The Answer To Social-Distancing Fun!

A great game to try in your backyard and at any youth program is Warphole. It is different than playing corn hole! Their patented curved design makes this new game the most fun. With four distinct playing zones, Warphole creates a whole new playing experience for the whole family or youth program. The four zones are Slide, Launch, Target, and Drop.

This game is easy to move and store. It also uses the same bags and rules as cornhole. Go to Warpholebags.com and learn more. They are giving away four board sets over the next eight weeks! The standard set is $129.99. I will add this to the Vendor page on my website. Check this out to find more awesome ideas and games to make your program fire!

Lego Super Mario, The Perfect Combo. Name A Better Duo!

Image result for lego mario

Lego Super Mario is coming! I am not sure if kids or adults were more excited when this was announced. I grew up playing Nintendo and Legos. This is the perfect combination to make into something new for kids to explore and build. I see tons of creative juices flowing already once this comes out. So when does this come out and what is it actually?

There is no official release yet. Lego’s website is saying later this year. I predict closer to the holiday season. I can also see this being one of the hottest toys to buy for Christmas. So you better go to https://www.lego.com/en-us/campaigns/supermario and enter your email so you know when this officially drops. For my youth programs folks, this is an awesome activity for your kids to design and have contests with. It may be a little pricey, but I can see a specific club around building legos, and integrating this game into your group. Lego advertises this product as…”Collecting coins, spinning through challenges and completing levels – it’s all part of the new LEGO® Super Mario™ play experience. Designers from Nintendo and the LEGO Group have worked together to bring LEGO Mario™ to life in a way that completely reimagines the world of physical LEGO building.” Perfect STEM/STEAM activity as kids can design and work together in teams. Since the product is still new, from watching the video, it appears that there are tons of variations you can build and create. The video game is coming to life! What a cool concept and activity for any youth program. Putting kids and staff in spaces to be creative!

I have included the promo video below.

Check out my website for more fun ideas to make your program 1 percent better!