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.

River Stones – The New And Improved Polydot! COVID Safe Equipment too!

Have you heard of River Stones? I just saw these in a catalog, and I think they are the new and improved polydot! If you have ever been in charge of ordering equipment for youth programs, you know what polydot or polyspots are. You probably have been ordering these for years. If you are looking to add some Bojangles spice to your programming, try the River Stones from “Hey! Play!”. They are on tons of different retailers, and I have seen the packs sold for as low as $49. It is a 6 piece set. Amazon has a 11 piece set for $64.99 (https://www.amazon.com/Gonge-1137385-Riverstones/dp/B000ANIVRG). So what do you do with them once you have them? I have used polydots for many team building games, visual cues for kids, and also for dodgeball games. You can incorporate these stones into almost anything though. I think the game changer is that kids have to learn to balance and coordination. This ultimately provides more of a challenge. They are also safe. My rule of thumb for games is when staff ask me about ideas, I always ask “Is it fun, is it safe?”. If you can answer yes to both, you can move forward. The River Stones have rubber footing underneath and can be used indoors or outdoors. This is not a sponsored post, I just love the idea, and we are going to order these for our programs!

Honorable Mention is the Teeter Popper! I love this balancing toy for kids. https://www.amazon.com/Fat-Brain-Toys-Teeter-Popper/dp/B00KY5HE9Q. This is designed for kids aged 3 to 6 it says. Good for your Kinder/1st graders looking to get some energy out.

Both of these items are COVID safe. You can sanitize and clean. These toys also keep your kids spread out. If you are looking for more fun ideas, check out the Resource Zone on my website. There are COVID games and also just fun ideas to make your program FIRE.

It’s Almost The Weekend…Let’s Go On A Virtual Roadtrip!

As COVID-19 continues to hang around, people are wanting to travel and looking for exciting things to do. I was given an awesome resource from a student and her teacher. Her name is Ella and she is as student in a school district in New York! She thought this would be great resource for anyone to enjoy. As we are heading to the weekend, you can travel to all these places from the comfort of your couch and home. This post was written by Carly Hallman and I have attached the link below .

https://www.titlemax.com/articles/road-trip-from-home-virtual-field-trips/

If you are looking for more ideas and activities, please visit the Resource Zone located on my website and check out my posts. I post once a week, sometimes more. Thanks for stopping by and thank you Ella for using these ideas from my website at your school!

Social Distancing Game Ideas During COVID-19 Part 2

We are all in this together (Insert High School Musical)! Across the nation, many school systems have started to send kids back to school. This isn’t an easy task for many childcare workers as there are restrictions and guidelines we must follow from the CDC. Since March I have done several posts and also included a section in my Resource Zone that gives you social distancing game ideas. Some are just games we have played before, but just added in some changes to keep safe and follow CDC protocols. Our YMCA has done programming since March, so we have started compiling games and making it as easy as we can for each other. My goal for this post and my website is to give you more time to focus on building relationships, and less time flipping through game books or getting lost trying to find that “perfect” idea. This is a one stop shop that has free ideas for you to use in any program working with kids, not just the YMCA. I have several friends who work in church programs, work in school systems, or smaller programs with limited resources. Many of these ideas don’ t involve lots of supplies or having to have tons of money to purchase supplies. I also have a deep appreciation for how resilient our childcare staff across the country are as they deal with changes, less staff to help, and smaller budgets. Keep up the great work. Now here are some games that I hope will help…

1. Time Capsule – One school year is a pretty big percentage of an elementary student’s life and a lot can change from September to June without your boys and girls even noticing. Creating a time capsule the first week of school is a great way to reflect on the changes when it gets revisited during the last week of school. You can create one big time capsule or individual student time capsules that you store. Potato chip canisters
work particularly well for individual time capsules. Here is what I plan to put inside this year first day of school picture biography that includes current height, favorites, and three goals for the school year a letter each student writes to their future (end of-the-school-year) self. Any trinkets students want to put in that represent themselves at the current point in time. This often includes pictures of best friends and boy bands, sport medals, little toys, etc (Supplies Needed – Markers, Paper, Scissors, Tape)

2. D-Ice Breakers – Roll a dice to see what question you have to answer. Questions are on my Resource Zone attached to this activity or make your own questions for 1-6 on the dice. (Supplies Needed – Dice)

3. Make Your Own Cartoon – Using the cartoon templates, create a cartoon full of characters, text bubbles, and action! Attached cartoon template to the activity in the Resource Zone. You can find these many places online too. (Supplies Needed – Print Comic Template, Pencil, Markers, etc..)

4. Pac Man – This game is for camps with basketball courts with lines. (Supplies – Pool Noodles)
Rules:

  1. Spread out group of people around the lines on the gym floor.
  2. Pick one or three (depending on size of group) of people to be the “ghosts.” They stand on the lines in
    the middle of the court.
  3. The “ghosts” chase down the other “Pac Man” players.
  4. Everyone must stay on the lines, no jumping from line to line.
  5. When a player gets tagged, they must sit down on the line where they are tagged. They become a
    road block for all of the Pac Man players. Only ghosts can walk around a road block.
  6. The last 2-3 players left standing become the ghosts for the next game.

5. Loose Parts Art – You might have just a few random things in your supply closet – some feather, some google eyes, a few random paper bags. Don’t dictate what the kids have to make (you might give some ideas of what you’ve made), but allow them to fully express their own creativity! (Supplies – Brushes, Markers, Paper, Scissors, Glue)

6.Atlas – This is essentially four corners, but with running. Campers will be assigned a corner to start, and then will be instructed to go to get to different corners without being tagged. (ex. Corner number one, go to four).Counselor picks 2-4 taggers who stand in the middle until the counselor yells “GO!” if people are tagged, they become a tagger. (Supplies Needed – Pool Noodles, Cones)

7. The Maze – Players line up standing 6 feet away from each other. The facilitator will set up cones in a square grid. The cones have a secret maze, and the facilitator knows the pathway through. The first player in line has to make his or her way from the start cone to the end cone. If the player makes a wrong move, he or she needs to do five jumping jacks and go to the end of the line. Then, the next person in line goes. Continue until someone makes it to the end cone, then start a new round with a new maze. (Supplies Needed – Cones)

8. Trick Shot – Have some fun and come up with creative ways to make a basket or goal! Use your imagination and if you have an iPad try to capture it on video! (Supplies Needed – Soccer Ball, Basketballs, Ipad)

9. Slow Race – Line the children up facing forward and make a finish line. The winner is the child that reaches the line last without stopping their movement. If a child is seen to stop moving, they are out and must move to the side. Then they become a judge, looking out for other people that are not moving. No bumping or pushing allowed. Great cool down activity.

10. Musical Hula Hoops – Just like musical chairs, but with spaced hula hoops on the floor. Children can stand in the circles, they don’t have to touch them. (Supplies Needed: Hula Hoops, Music)

11. Waaa Master – Everyone stands in a circle, hands out stretched and no contact with one another. The Waaa Master is chosen by the game leader. Then the Waaa Master will explain that they will do 1 of 3 different actions, an alligator (make jaws with your hand), a snake (put one elbow in the palm of the other hand like a cobra standing up), or a dragon (put hands on your sides like wings). After everyone understands, tell them the Waaa Master will bow to them and say “Waaa”. Everyone else will then bow back and say “Waaa”. Then the Waaa Master says 1,2,3 Waaa and everyone does one of the actions. If someone in the circle does the same action of the “Waaa Master” they are out and play continues until there is a winner.

12. Fire On The Mountain – Have the group lay flat on their back. When you say fire on the mountain, the group is to stand up as fast as possible. The last one out can sit out to the end or do situps, pushups, jumping jacks, etc. When the group is on their back, they must lie perfectly still. If you say something other than mountain like fire on the mickey, mazda, montana, and they flinch or begin to get up they are out.

13. Shoot The Moon – Using dodgeballs, have kids gloved. Line up kids on opposite side of the gym. Big yoga ball is in the middle and is the Moon! The dodgeballs are the rockets. that sends to knock the Moon to the other planet. If the yoga ball crosses their planetary line, KABOOM! (Supplies Needed: Yoga Ball, Dodgeballs, Gloves, Cones)

14. Helicopter – Set the cones up in 4 sections around the playing area. Those are the helipads. The kids are the helicopters flying from helipad to helipad trying to avoid taggers with pool noodles. You cannot stay in a helipad for more than 10 seconds. If you are tagged, you sit where you are tagged and become an obstacle. (Supplies Needed: Pool Noodles, Cones)

15. Grump’s Distanced Island – Modified cross the ocean type game. Counselor is Grump and has pool noodle for tagging. The gym circle or middle of the gym is your island and the dodgeballs are your coconuts. If kids are gloved, balls are ok to share. If kids are not gloved, they can use a color ball only they are allowed to steal. Kids must steal the coconuts without being tagged. (Supplies Needed: Dodgeballs, Pool Noodles)

I hope you enjoy these games that help keep your children socially distanced from one another while still having fun. Check out the Resource Zone on my website for more ideas to help during this crazy time. Thanks for visiting and share your ideas with others. We are all trying our best and we need to help each other.

More Than A Pumpkin – Fun and Safe Halloween Games During COVID-19

I took a few weeks off from the website to reset for another year if you have been following along for my weekly posts. I am back, and just in time for Halloween. One of my favorite times in youth programming, but COVID has stayed around and tried to ruin some of my fun. I usually host a huge Trunk or Treat event, but we decided to cancel due to the crowds and attendance we typically get. Safety comes first, and just like with any game you have to ask yourself “Is it safe, and is it fun?” If you can’t answer yes to both, then don’t do it! I am not letting 2020 ruin this party though. I have some fun and safe ideas that you are welcome to steal and bring to your program.

  1. More Than A Pumpkin – Buy some small pumpkins or use a large pumpkin and have everyone write with a sharpie what they are thankful for on the pumpkin. Yes, this can work for November, but during the season of I want all the candy and driving parents crazy with costume suggestions, it’s good to hit reset. Great for a huddle (group of kids), your whole program, or one child to take home and have their parents help decorate and get the whole family involved. This has been a tough year, but we can still be thankful. Pumpkins are not just for carving or just sitting out.
  2. Haunted Maze – Use gym mats or cardboard boxes. Design your own mini haunted maze using the gym mats or cardboard boxes to make dead ends, tunnels, and twists and turns along the way. A safe social distance activity. One kid goes at a time, counselors or other kids scare from a safe distance. I have used the gym stage for my location and turned the lights off. Have some fun music, use some fun spider webs, and other fun decorations to make it feel as real as you can. Remember these are kids. This reminder is for myself haha!
  3. Tangerine/Clementine Decorating – Use sharpies and decorate tangerines/clementines like mini pumpkins. Cheap and easy. Eat the finished product! Healthy activity!
  4. Greasy Pumpkin Race – Use gloves, slather some baby oil, and carry the pumpkin from one end of the field to the other. Use trash bags to cover clothing or costume the child is wearing. Use pumpkins of all sizes and determine what works best for age group. Great game for a parent to compete against with their child or counselor against a kid.
  5. Glow In The Dark Bowling – Use orange lights and design the floor like a bowling alley. Kids can use a small pumpkin with no stem and bowl towards plastic pins. No pumpkin, use an orange ball and sanitize.
  6. Decorate Your Mask – Many police departments I have seen nationally are having contests around this. Have kids design their mask geared towards Halloween. Great chance for them to be creative. Disposable masks are very cost effective.
  7. Zombie Tag – Use pool noodles and if a kid gets tagged they must walk around like a zombie until they are tagged by the doctor. The doctor has the special medicine! Supplies needed are pool noodles, the doctor tagger has a certain noodle color. Use cones to space your field or indoor area out. Switch up the taggers and doctors. Do a round where the counselors are the taggers or just the doctors.
  8. Cake “Food” Walk – Space out your poly spots inside or outside. Play fun Halloween music. Kids walk around the spaced out circle and win the music stops call the number. Put numbers on each poly spot. Have the kid be the caller and switch up the job each game. Use cupcakes, cakes, fruit, cheese, anything you want haha. Budgets are tight!

Halloween doesn’t stop. Keep the fun, the kids and staff need this right now. It’s been a long 2020, but you can change the way we choose to look at how we finish this year. More games and ideas on my website in the Resource Zone.

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 https://www.kwikgoal.com/product/16B6/All-Surface-Soccer-Tennis 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