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Summer Picnic Fun: Starring Dad


Your wife has let you know that you are in charge of the "fun" at this year's Summer Fun Fest. Whether it's the Fourth of July or some other summer holiday, the idea of having to entertain your children, maybe your nieces and nephews and other family members strikes fear in the heart of many a father.

Sure, for some of us it's easier to stand by the barbecue grill all afternoon. But fun is certainly up a father's alley as well. Here are some good ideas for entertaining the kids and enjoying the process!


Consider Frisbee Golf. This is a great game that can be set up in a backyard, in a park or around a neighborhood. The basic idea is that you have laundry baskets or some other sort of receptacle, some flags or a way to see the receptacle and a few frisbees. Just like regular golf, you try to land your frisbee in the "hole" in as few shots as possible.

Volleyball. A relatively quick set up game is volleyball. This is best for older kids, but younger kids appreciate the game as well. Keep it really simple, but stick to the rules. Your local discount store should have access to a net, some poles and a soft volleyball for a reasonable price.

Sack Races. Remember our old standby from our youth? Well, maybe some of you dads aren't that old. But sack races were always fun and good for a few laughs. Try a local feed store or farmer's cooperative for the large burlap sacks, or you might try your hand (or your wife's hand) making them out of corduroy or denim. Variations on the sack race include a wheelbarrow race or three legged races.

Steal the Flag. This is a great standby that is best played in the dark or near dark, and the more space, the better. Two teams place their "flags" (which can be bandanas, glow sticks, or other objects) in a secret location and work to capture the other team's flag and get it back to their home base. Team members can capture members of the other team and hold them in "jail;" they can only be freed by another team member. This is a great game, especially for the children about 10 and older.

Sardines. This is another fun game to play at or after dusk when there are lots of shadows. This game is played in teams of two and is reminiscent of "Hide and Go Seek." One pair finds a hiding place and hides. The other pairs try to find the hiding team. When each time finds the hiders, they have to hide with them (hence the sardines idea). The last team to find all the others hiding becomes the hiders in the next round. This is a lot of fun, particularly when you are trying to squeeze in a pretty cramped space.

Other Ideas

Ambush! This is one of our favorites, but it takes some time and preparation. You will need lots of water, water balloons, water guns, squirt bottles, and just about anything else that will hold water. This is especially fun if it is played kids against adults. The idea is to prepare and then ambush the other team, doing your best to soak the other team members to the skin. Play this on a hot afternoon for a little cooling off, but be careful not to splash on babies, food or other important things!

Stories. Make up a great story and tell it outside. The longer the better. We have even tried the idea of a collective story. Sit in a circle and take turns adding one paragraph to the story. You'll be surprised at how it all ends up. Check out the article "Storytelling Made Easy" for ideas and clues on telling great and memorable stories.


There are lots of ways to make your family picnic day fun and entertaining. Whether you choose games, stories, or other creative ideas, you can have fun involving the kids, the other adults, and making some fun and lasting memories.
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