Fun Outdoor Games for Kids

by Jeannine Tidwell

We're happy to share this guide to fun outdoor games for kids with you! These are some of the most popular nature based games we play at Twin Eagles Wilderness School's youth programs and summer camps. We love playing them and hope you will too! Let the games begin!

Fun Outdoor Games

Squirrels Uprising

Number of People: 3 or more (best with larger group of at least 10)

Materials Needed: 8 - 10 pinecones or bandanas

How to Play: People get into two groups: the squirrels and the foxes. Size the groups based on the ratio of one fox for every 4 or 5 squirrels. The numbers can vary, adjust them to fit your needs. The squirrels have a pile of "nuts" (pinecones or bandanas) that they are trying to place in a cache for the winter that is being guarded by the foxes. The squirrels try to outwit the foxes by hiding the nuts on their bodies as they run. Squirrels can only put one nut in the cache at a time, and only one nut is allowed to be active on the playing field at a time. If a squirrel gets tagged by a fox they are then frozen in place. When they're frozen they drop the nut. There is also a magic "unfreezing" object (bandana) that is passed from one squirrel to another to unfreeze frozen squirrels by touching them with it. If the squirrel with the unfreezing object gets tagged while they have the unfreezing object in their hand, they drop it and freeze. The squirrels win if they get all their nuts in the cache. The foxes win if they tag and freeze all the squirrels.

When it comes to fun outdoor games for kids, this is a perennial favorite here at Twin Eagles Wilderness School.

Human Obstacle Course

Number of People: 2 or more (best with at least 6)

Materials Needed: none

How to Play: Players group up into partners and create obstacles together with their bodies that the other players safely move through. Some great obstacles to create are a frog hop where kids jump over each other, a gopher tunnel where kids crawl between another's legs, or a whirlpool where kids run around someone. Use your imagination and let nature be your guide to creating obstacles.

Here at Twin Eagles Wilderness School, this is a very popular game. I have heard people tell me many times that this is one of the most fun outdoor games they like to play!

Cougar Karate

Number of People: 4 or more (best with 8 or more)

Materials Needed: none

How to Play: Have everyone stand in a circle and simultaneously call out "Cougar Karate!" getting into a frozen karate stance. Players take turns one at a time going sunwise (clockwise) around them circle. Each player attempts to safely tag another player's arms in the form of karate chop, kick or some other kind of karate move. The key is that each turn consists of only one swift move. The opponent gets to dodge and evade their move at the same time, but again only with one swift movement. If they get hit, they "lose" that arm and put it behind their back. If a player loses both arms, they are out. The game is played until only one player remains.

This is one of the best fun outdoor games for kids at Twin Eagles Wilderness School youth programs, particularly for those kids with lots of high energy.

Fun Outdoor Games

Western Skink Tail Grab

Number of People: 5 or more (really fun with a larger group)

Materials Needed: Bandana

How to Play: The group gets into a line all facing the same direction. Each person places their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. The person in front is the head of the western skink and the person at the end holds the tail. The tail is a bandana, slipped down into a pocket or the waist line of the person's pants behind them, with most of the bandana hanging down. The goal is for the head to grab the tail!

Setup this game and watch in amazement as it plays out. Lots of activities qualify as fun outdoor games, but this one will really get your group laughing!

Naturalist Scategories

Number of People: 2 or more (best with at least half a dozen)

Materials Needed: none

How to Play: Everyone gets in a circle. Someone comes up with a category (example: types of trees). Each person has ten seconds to come up with an answer that fits into that category. Going around the circle each person says their answer when it's their turn. Each answer may only be called out once. The group counts down for each player. If they can't come up with an answer then they are out of the game. The last player remaining wins.

This is a great activity to test everyone's naturalist knowledge. It also helps kids deepen their naturalist knowledge, just by playing. This is a real asset in playing fun outdoor games for kids. Summer campers and students at youth programs love this one here at Twin Eagles Wilderness School.

Blindfold Samurai

Number of People: 4 or more (best with 7 or more)

Materials Needed: foam pool noodle, blindfold

How to Play: In this game players form a circle, with one person being the samurai. The samurai is blindfolded and stands with the noodle in hand in the center of the circle. The samurai tries to hit people with the noodle while everyone else tries to tag the samurai and get back to the circle without getting hit by the noodle. If a player gets hit by the noodle before getting back to the circle, they are out. The samurai wins if they hit everyone once. The circle wins if each person successfully tags the samurai, without getting hit by the noodle before returning to the circle.

This game requires an intense state of awareness amongst all the players, and is one of many fun outdoor games we use here at Twin Eagles Wilderness School to develop the quiet mind.

Additional Resources for fun outdoor games

Interested in more games like these? Check out these articles, Great Outdoor Games for Kids and Kids Outdoor Relay Games

If your kids like these games, they will probably love coming to Twin Eagles Wilderness School Youth Programs or Summer Camps. Check them out and let us know if you'd like more information!

Interested in being personally mentored in Nature Based Mentoring, on a transformational journey of connection to nature, community, and self?

Check out the Twin Eagles Wilderness Immersion Program.

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