Games for Get-togethers

Home & Family, Kids, Outdoors
on June 30, 2002
David Mudd

Summer months mean family reunions, company picnics, neighborhood yard parties, and other gatherings that bring together young and old. While the chance to visit is a big part of the fun, the most memorable get-togethers also include activities encouraging everyone to interact.

What better way to bridge the generations, open communications, and just plain have fun than to play games together?

"Playing together is a great way to get to know each other," says Frank Lorge of Little Rock, Ark. He, wife Melissa, and their four children ages 10-16 join six other families with children ranging in age from toddlers to teens for an annual summer reunion at an Arkansas camp. Organized games always are central to the fun.

Games fall into two categories: those any age and ability can play, and those better suited to the more active set. The latter includes all forms of tag; the three-legged race, where teams of two compete with one leg tied to their partner's leg; a sack race with contestants hopping to the finish line inside burlap bags; tug of war; and red rover, where two large teams form lines joining hands and invite a member of the opposing team to try and break through a link.

But with a little creativity, even physical games can be more inclusive. A game of softball, for example, can be played with a tennis ball and set up so those unable to run are designated hitters, and children are the runners.

For the Lorges reunion, a highlight is indoor game night, when everyone—adults, too—gathers for old-fashioned children's games such as musical chairs.

"The kids would rather go here than to Disney World, because we all play together," Frank says. "It's all ages, and everybody is included. It's the one time we all act like kids together, and kids love that."

Another old-fashioned game for all ages is the egg toss, provided a little mess isn't going to upset anyone. Teams of two carefully toss a raw egg back and forth, taking a step back after each toss. The team whose egg remains unbroken the longest wins.

Charades is a good choice for its hilarity, creativity, and because any number of people can be on a team.

As one member of the team acts out a familiar phrase, title, name, or place, the rest of the team members frantically try to guess what's being communicated. Time is kept, and the team that comes up with the correct words most quickly wins.

Scavenger hunts require more planning but are tons of fun. The hunt is a list of odd, but attainable, things to search for. The first team to report back with all objects in hand wins.

Reach back into your childhood and play some of the games you did as a child. Your reunions just might be more fun than Disney World, too.