Relay races, with a twist!

relay race activities for kidsRelay races are a camp classic – a fun activity most everyone enjoys. And, the great thing about relay races is that the variations are endless!

If you have more than five or six people together, you can divide into teams, otherwise you can work together as one team to complete the relay in the quickest amount of time. Enthusiasm and involvement from the adults/parents will set the tone for the kids’ participation, so don’t be afraid to play and be goofy with this!

Set up cones (or any type of toys that won’t blow/roll away) to use as a starting/finishing point. You can also use a tree or any sturdy object in the yard as the marker that racers will have to circle around before heading back to start/finish line.

Each member of the team must successfully complete a step and cross the start/finish line before the next person can go. Items/toys can be tossed into the yard to act as obstacles that racers have to maneuver about. But, be sure that these items are soft and won’t cause an injury if someone steps on or accidentally falls on one.

You can have everyone complete the same relay or have everyone complete a different one. The benefit of having everyone complete a different relay is that you can easily adapt a few of them for players with various abilities or for younger children. However, you may want to have the teams discuss which relay each player is going to complete (or assign each player a relay “challenge”) before the race begins in order for everyone to feel included as member of their team.

Here are some fun relay race variations:

  • Egg drop: You’ll need a spoon and an egg (be sure to have extra eggs in case they are dropped/cracked) for each team or a cotton ball (these might be difficult to use if it’s windy). Holding the spoon in one hand, racers must move as quickly as they can with object on spoon, without touching the object with their other hand or any other part of their body. If it falls off spoon, racer must take five big steps back before trying again. Another variation to add a level of difficulty would be to have the racer place the long end of the spoon in their mouth with the egg on the other end.
  • Dress-up racer: Have items of clothing such as a tie, vest, ski hat, goggles, large boots, skirt and gloves at one end of the relay. The team member must race down and put on three or four items of clothing (they can choose what to put on). If more than one team is participating, put clothes in one large pile for everyone to pick through). After putting on the items, the racer heads back to the start/finish line and removes the clothing items. The next person in line puts them on and races to the other end of the course, adds a clothing item, races back to the start, and so on until all team members have gone.
  • Full water transport: Have a small bucket of water, filled to the very top, at the start/finish line. The person must carry the bucket on their head (they can hold it there) as fast as they can down, around and back to the start/finish line. This person will get a little wet, so be sure they know this in advance. Hand off the bucket to the next person in line.
  • Sponge and water relay: Have one to two large sponges and two small/medium size buckets per team. One bucket is full of water and one empty. Mark the outside of the empty bucket with a line of tape or marker about 1-2 inches from the bottom. Player must soak the sponge in full bucket, then run down/around and back to start/finish line before squeezing their full sponge into the empty bucket. This step is repeated until water (in previously empty bucket) reaches marked line. First team to reach the line on their bucket wins. Be sure to have enough water in the full bucket prior to starting. A lot of water will be lost each time a player runs with the sponge full.
  • Balloon animal race: Have balloons blown up with a piece of paper inside with a farm animal written on it. Number of balloons/farm animals will depend on number of players, but you’ll want at least one for each person as well as a few extra just in case. Player must grab their balloon, race to “circle around” point of the relay course where they will pop their balloon and find the paper with an animal written on it. Then player must act like that animal as they race back to start/finish line. Be sure to encourage players to pick up balloon pieces after relay race is finished. Another variation for this, if you have younger children that don’t like the sound of popping balloons, would be to have a stack/bowl of Oreos (about 3-5 for each racer). You could hide the pieces of paper (with animal written on it) prior to the game starting, but be sure to have at least 1 paper/animal for each player. Racers must race down, grab an Oreo and open it up, if it does not have a paper inside they must eat that Oreo before grabbing another. Player continues until they find an Oreo with paper/animal inside then acts like that animal as they race back to start/finish line. Just be cautious that no one chokes while eating the cookies too fast (and have some milk handy for the leftovers!).

Take the next step:

Jessica DoletzkyJessica Doletzky, CCLS, CTRS, is the Hospital OutReach Coordinator for North Star Reach, a camp that provides life-changing camp experiences for children with serious health challenges and their families. Jessica began supporting North Star Reach in 2008 as a volunteer working with their Camp on the Move Program. In 2014 she was hired to develop the Hospital OutReach Program, which brings the magic of camp to kids in the hospital. Before joining North Star Reach, Jessica worked as a Child Life Specialist/Recreational Therapist at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, primarily with the Pediatric Hematology and Oncology team and also spent many years working with YMCA day camps. Jessica loves being able to combine her passion for working with children and families in hospital settings along with the transformational experiences that camp is able to provide. She is excited that North Star Reach will be opening their new camp facility (located in Pinckney, MI.) in the summer of 2016 and looks forward to working with more campers and families through OutReach.

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best children's hospitalUniversity of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” and among the 10 best children’s hospitals in the nation by Parents Magazine. In December 2011, the hospital opened our new 12-story, state-of-the-art facility offering cutting-edge specialty services for newborns, children and women.