Fire pits and Flashlight Tag
By Nadine Briggs
I love hanging out around fire pits. It’s like camping but without having to sleep on the ground. The crackling fire, Jiffy Pop, marshmallows, s’mores (quite possibly the best treat, ever!), it’s all so…summery! I especially love it if the yard is full of kids playing flashlight tag with some adults to keep me company. When I was a child, all the kids in our neighborhood used to play hide and seek every night in the summer with a huge tree in front of my house as home base. The best times always seem to be those that aren’t planned so it’s a good idea to keep a bagful of barbeque skewers and marshmallows on hand so you’re ready to socialize on a whim. Marshmallows can be stored in the freezer so you can stock up. Outdoor socializing also means that you don’t have to clean your house. Not much preparation is required and it creates such wonderful memories.
Group games are so much more exciting when played in the dark. This type of excitement can be a bit too much for some kids, though. Here are some tips to prepare kids who may have sensory issues or are fearful of the dark:
- Describe the game while it’s still light outside and let them know that they don’t have to play if they don’t want to.
- Try pairing kids up into teams or pair up a tentative child with an older child.
- Set guidelines for safe boundaries and use visual reminders (ex. Park your car at the end of the driveway, put a lawn chair at each corner of the yard).
- Tell kids that they can take a break when needed and relax with the adults by the fire pit.
- Provide some bubbles and balls for kids who don’t want to play flashlight tag and set them out in a well-lit driveway or area of the yard.
- You may have to emphasize that sometimes your child will win and sometimes another kid will win.
How to Play:
- Play this game in a dark house at night or in a safe place outdoors at night.
- Find a place to be base.
- Choose one player to be “IT”.
- The person who is “IT” waits at the base and counts while everyone else hides. Hiders can move around during the game.
- “IT” searches for the hidden players with the flashlight. The flashlight must stay on at all time and cannot be covered.
- Meanwhile, players try to run to the base without getting caught.
- Players are tagged if “IT” spots them with the flashlight and calls out a player’s name.
- Each tagged player is sent to the base to wait until the very last player is caught.
- The last person tagged is “IT” for the next game.
- Set a time limit for the game, if no one is tagged during that time frame, switch the person who is “IT”.
- Have an adult mark-off the game area.
- Play in the safe area. Canvass the play area in the daylight. Mark off dangerous holes and low hanging branches, and remove all potential hazards such as yard tools, toys, clotheslines, etc.
- Provide everyone with a flashlight for safety purposes, but only the person who is “IT” keeps theirs turned on.
- Players should not leave the game area without telling an adult.
- Do not throw anything at other players.
- Watch for cars. Never play near a busy street or intersection.
- Apply insect repellent, especially in wooded areas.
- Have an adult monitoring the fire pit at all times and have a hose nearby
Call some friends, break out the marshmallows, check the junk drawer for flashlights and enjoy!