Let the (Backyard) Games Begin!


Nearly every afternoon the neighborhood kids gather in the cul-de-sac in front of our home and play.  There are the usual draws: riding bikes and scooters, shooting hoops, maybe a game of tag.  Lately they’ve taken up kickball, and it’s not unusual to see a mom or dad drawn into the game.  Who wouldn’t rather put off weeding or mowing the lawn just a little bit longer for the chance to feel the satisfying thwack of a rubber ball against your foot?

The other day I glanced out the window to see an unfamiliar game getting started.  The kickball was lined up in the middle of the street, flanked by a line of tennis balls.  The serious task of picking teams was underway.  The teams lined up to face each other, and when the countdown was over, they made a mad dash for the balls.  And so began “War Ball,” a version of Dodge Ball they’d made up on their own.


For generations kids have been improving traditional backyard games and making up their own.  But as organized sports and an abundance of technology overtakes their lives, they are spending less time outside … and even less time freely playing with each other.


The good people at CLIF would like to see that change.  This year they are hosting the 3rd Annual CLIF Kid Backyard Game of the Year.  Kids ages 6-12 are encouraged to enter by submitting their made-up game.  You don’t need any fancy equipment or elaborate rules, just your creativity.  Kids can enter as individuals and have a chance to win a $10,000 scholarship or a Specialized Bike. Contest finalists will win a trip to San Diego to present their game.  New this year is an opportunity for kids to enter as a group.  To reward kids for their teamwork, the group winner will receive $15,000 to donate to a nonprofit of their choice, as well as a trip to San Diego.

The judges, Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer, will have tough decisions, I’m sure, but their background makes them a perfect fit. Stacy and Ken have authored a book together: “The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book: 448 Great Things to do in Nature Before You Grow Up.”

Backyard game ideas can be submitted now through June 17, 2013 at www.CLIFBackyardGame.com.  We hope to be playing your game soon!