Just because your child is a teenager doesn't mean playtime needs to come to an end. Teens might be the reigning kings and queens of screens, but they still need to get up and move. These outdoor games for teenagers will have everyone smiling, playing, and forgetting all about what is happening on their smartphones.
The Benefits of Playing Outdoors for Teens
The great outdoors provides human beings with so much more than natural beauty and splendor. There are several benefits that only the outdoors can provide for an individual's physical and mental health.
- Being outdoors improves attention and memory; two things teens suddenly seem to lack!
- Being outdoors, even for short periods, can decrease stress and cortisol levels in human beings.
- Those who spend time outdoors are less likely to engage in bullying behavior.
- Spending time outdoors regularly can lead to a decrease in obesity and related health issues. The more kids move, the healthier their bodies are.
- Being outdoors enhances sleep, and teens definitely need sleep.
How to Get Your Teen to Head Outdoors
Getting your teenager outside to participate in what you have set up is probably more than half the battle. Fight their reluctance to leave the basement with parental smarts and savvy.
- Create traditions out of outdoor games. Make Sunday an outside game day or work an outdoor game into the Friday night teen hangout.
- Put a twist on a classic interest. You know the teens used to love playing kickball, so take the game they grew up with and put an intriguing spin on it.
- Finish the game off with a treat. Teens love treats just as much as little kids. You can offer up a yummy summer treat in warm months or homemade cocoa or s'mores in cooler weather.
- If your teen is reluctant to get outdoors, make a rule about no technology until they do an activity outside for at least 20 minutes.
Outdoor Games for Teenagers to Play in Large Groups
So the teens have taken up residence in your basement? They are all sitting down there in the dark, minimally socializing while glued to their devices. It is high time to flush them out and send them into the sunshine to partake in one of these enjoyable outdoor activities.
This game is played with about ten teens and encourages good, clean physical interaction (hooray for decency)! To play human knot, have the teens stand in a circle. They clasp the right hand of any person that is NOT standing next to them. They then take their free hand and join it with another person's free hand, again NOT the person's hand next to them. The teens will be all twisted up at this point and faced with the task of detangling their limbs without breaking hands.
If you have a huge group of teens, say at a school or youth group function, you can create several groups of ten teens, knot hands, and see which team can unwind the fastest. Multiple groups of knots will require plenty of outdoor space.
This game functions under the same premise as good old hide and seek, but with a twist. In classic hide and seek, everyone hides except for a single seeker. In Sardines, one person hides, and everyone has to try to root the hider out.
When someone finds the person hiding, they too have to hide right along with them. More and more people will discover the hiding group, and the original space is going to be quite cramped as the game progresses. Everyone has to squeeze into the tightly packed hiding spot, or work together to find a new one large enough to house everyone without being caught by those still seeking. The name sounds strange, but when you see all those teens squished into a small area like a bunch of sardines, it will quickly make so much sense.
As long as you have space and a frisbee, you can send the teens out for a competitive game of ultimate frisbee. Much like football, the kids get split into two teams, each with the goal of moving the frisbee down to a designated goal space. The frisbee must be caught to be considered a complete play, and each team gets four downs (much like in football) before they relinquish possession of the frisbee and shift to defending. You can add an extra layer of fun and challenge to this game by turning on the backyard sprinklers!
Broken Telephone Pictionary
Get everyone outside and stand them in a line. Tape a white piece of paper to everyone's back and give them a pen or marker. The last person in the line has to draw something on the person's back in front of them. The person whose back is being drawn on has to key into the sense of touch and then try to draw the object that was just drawn on their back onto the back of the person in front of them without ever laying eyes on the image. This continues until the very first person in the line draws what they think is on their back.
When the game is complete, set the papers out, starting with the initial drawing, working down to the final drawing. Everyone will be in stitches looking at the art progression.
A helpful hint for this game is to have some ideas ready for the first drawer. Drawn objects should not be too intricate, but also not super simple. Sample ideas might include:
- A boat
- A Christmas tree
- A house
- A car
- A jack-o'-lantern
- A flower
Slip & Slide Kickball
If you have a lot of space in the backyard and pleasant weather, combine the classic game of kickball with slip and sliding for a memory-making experience the teens won't soon forget. Setting up the kickball field is half the fun, but playing on it is hysterical, challenging, and bound to keep teens busy for hours.
They play kickball the traditional way, but instead of running from base to base, they scurry down the slip and slide track, crashing into a pool of water.
Water Balloon Wars
Make tons of water balloons and place them in buckets throughout your yard. Set up objects for teens to hide behind during play. The object of the game is to have fun, get soaked and be the last dry person standing.
This version of water balloon wars is every teen for themselves. Once you are hit, you are out. The teen who is left dry at the end of the game is the winner. Feel free to pass out a prize, but generally speaking, teenagers are just as happy earning bragging rights for a day.
Glow Stick Volleyball
This is the perfect game for anyone hosting a teenage sleepover party. All you need are lots of glow sticks, a volleyball, and a volleyball net.
Divide the teenagers into two teams and head outside when the sun is down and the night is black. Have everyone put a glow stick bracelet on each of their wrists and their ankles. Illuminate the volleyball by cracking the sticks so they are lit, and insert them into the volleyball before blowing it up. You can also choose to paint the ball with glow-in-the-dark paint.
Teens then play a few rounds of the most fun volleyball game they have ever played before. Everything is cooler when played in the dark with glow sticks!
Ghost in the Graveyard
When it is pitch black outside, get the kids up and into the night to play Ghost in the Graveyard. In this classic game, one person goes and hides. They are the ghost. Everyone else playing has to hunt for the ghost, and when the ghost is spotted, the person who located the ghost yells out, "Ghost in the graveyard!"
The ghost then takes off, trying to tag whomever they can. Everyone who is not a ghost has to take off for a designated safe space before they get tagged by the ghost.
You know your teens are competitive when it comes to their video games, so try to channel that competitive streak into another game that gets them outdoors and moving. Set up a few fun race variations like:
- Three-legged race - Pair teens up, tie their inside legs together, and watch them hop and stumble over to the finish line
- Crab walk race - They likely tried this when they were little. It might surprise them to learn that it is just as tricky to execute years later.
- Wheelbarrow race - One person walks on their hands while the other person holds their feet in the air. Off they go! This one is especially challenging due to the copious amounts of laughter it evokes.
- Dress up relay race - Split the teens into the teams, putting half the kids at the start line and half the kids 50 feet away. The first person on each team has a dress-up box they run to. When they reach the box, they put EVERYTHING inside of it on (the sillier the article of clothing, the better), and race back to the start line, where they shed the items for the next person.
- Egg race - teens break into even teams. The goal is to create a relay race where an egg must be carried in a spoon, never dropping or breaking, because that would send a player back to the start line.
Teens have probably played hundreds of rounds of tag by this point in their lives, so put a twist on an old favorite and play blob tag. To begin, you need two sets of two teens to be the "blobs." These blobs must work together and communicate to tag single runners. Once they target and tag another teen, that teen joins the blob. The blob then sets out to tag a fourth person, and when they do, the blob of teens break into two groups of two, chasing more single runners, or move as one huge unit (set this rule before beginning so there is no confusion). The last person who a blob has not tagged is the winner of the game.
Outdoor Games for Teenagers to Play in Small Groups or With Families
Teenagers don't need an entire entourage to engage in outdoor games. There is plenty to do outside with siblings or other family members.
Send a few teens on a scavenger hunt! You can make these simple, staying in the confines of your yard, or very complex, sending kids all over the neighborhood, searching for clues. Scavenger hunts work brains and bodies, can be done at any point in the year, and teens won't tire of them, since you can create a new hunt every time you play.
Maybe not all the teens at your home know how to play basketball, but everyone can aim the ball for the hoop while standing still on the drive. This is basically all you have to do to play the game HORSE. Teens pick a spot on the driveway and aim the basketball for the hoop. If they get the ball in, they don't earn a letter. If they don't, they have an "H."
A new spot on the drive is chosen, and again teens try to shoot the ball into the basketball hoop. If they make it, no letter is given. If they don't, they now have an "H" and an "O." Teens are out of the game when they spell the word "HORSE."
HORSE can be played with many teens and longer words can be used instead of HORSE, or the game can be played with a few bored teens in need of something active to do.
Teens can play alone or with a few pals or family members. Keep the hacky sack in the air, juggling it as you might a soccer ball. See how many juggles teens can get. Can they beat a top score? Do you have two hacky sacks? If so, teens can face off to see who can keep the hacky sack in the air the longest.
Blindfolded Obstacle Course
This game can easily be played with four players. Pair the teens into sets of two. Set up an obstacle course in the backyard. Make sure it is free of items that kids could hurt themselves on. One person gets blindfolded. They have to get through the obstacle course without the use of sight. They do have help, though! A partner guides the blindfolded person through challenges with verbal directions. Be sure to time how long it takes to complete the course, so that the second pair of teens can try to beat the set time.
This game can certainly be played with large groups of teens, but it can also be played in a group of siblings or with the family. Everyone has a balloon tied to their leg with a long string. Everyone has the same goal: stomp on another person's balloon without having yours popped. The final person with an intact balloon attached to their leg is the winner of the game. In the video, the kids demonstrating are younger, but it gives you the gist of how the game should look.
Never Stop Playing
Getting outside and playing games isn't just for young children. There is no reason for older kids, teenagers, and adults to stop heading outside and being active. Be creative in your attempt to get kids outside, and encourage fun and exciting games and activities that leave teens wanting more.