9 Ideas for Holding Your Own Summer Games

Can’t quite make it to Rio this year? With just a few household items, you can re-create some of the more popular events like track and field, gymnastics, swimming, and soccer as fun backyard activities. Here are nine ideas for hosting your own 2016 summer games.


Ah, the Pageantry
If your team is more artistic than athletic, focus their activities on creating team T-shirts, flags, and banners featuring various countries. Using Fourth of July decorations, stage your own opening ceremonies complete with music, snacks, and a faux torch made with a cardboard roll and paper flames.


Track and Field
Use hula hoops and cones for a classic ring toss, or put the hula hoops on the grass and toss bean bags into them. Make a long jump event by marking lines with spray paint, then measure jumping distances with pieces of yarn athletes can later wear around their necks to display paper “medals.”


Ready, Set, Go!

Keep it simple with start and finish lines, or incorporate challenges like hurdles, balancing eggs on spoons, crab walking, sack races, or three-legged races.

Gymnastics
Using spray paint, draw a “balance beam” on the grass (4 inches wide by 16 feet long, if you want to be official). Athletes can perform increasingly difficult tricks, like walking toe-to-toe, jumping, cartwheeling, and head standing. Freestyling is definitely encouraged!


Swimming
No pool? No problem! Set up a simple slide with sprinklers and plastic, then time competitors on how long it takes them to whoosh to the end. Or fill up some water balloons and separate athletes into groups for a slippery relay race.


Cycling
Athletes can race in a straight line or ride through a course made with plastic cones. Younger kids on trikes can get in on the fun, too—but be sure everyone wears a helmet.


Equestrian
Horses (stick ponies) gallop around barrels (buckets, but really anything will do) and jump over walls (pool noodles work nicely) in a race to the finish line, where they are rewarded with oats and apples (granola bars and drink boxes).


Soccer
If your competitors are already into this sport, they will love the chance to face off against another team. Host a skills competition and have athletes kick goals from certain distances, pass to team members, or dribble down the field in a relay race. Replace the soccer ball with a beach ball as a nod to summer and to give an additional challenge to the players.


New Twists on Old Games
If your family plays yard games like corn hole, Texas golf, or croquet together, add new challenges for the summer games (like throwing with the opposite hand or while blindfolded). Above all, keep the play lighthearted and fun with something for everyone to enjoy.