A few months ago, when my daughter Pippa was four and a half, I figured she was smart enough about cars to navigate the short walk between our door and our eight-year-old neighbor Esti's house. Now that the weather’s nice and school's out, there’s a well-beaten kid highway between our two houses. Pippa and Esti convene almost daily to wash rocks, collect pinecones, play hide and seek, and ride bikes.
It’s amazing what kids can get up to when left to their own devices. And there’s no better time for free play than summer. Sure, there are sports camps and family campouts, but kids make some of their most fun, best memories spontaneously, right in the backyard.
That’s the spirit behind the third-annual Clif Kid Backyard Game of the Year Contest, in which children ages 6 to 12 invent games that can be played at home with a handful of friends and basic equipment, like balls, flags, and hula-hoops. In last year’s winning game, made up by a seven-year-old girl from Oregon, players hopped around in pillowcases, pretending to be penguins and trying to pick up water balloons. The year before that, variations on tag, hopscotch, and dodge ball took honorable mentions.
So next time your kids are whining for something to do or begging for the iPad, harness their pent-up summertime creativity and put them to work designing this generation’s version of TV tag or Sardines. The grand prize winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship, and runners-up win $1,000 scholarships, compliments of the energy-bar maker Clif. All of them will score a new Specialized bike and helmet and a trip to San Diego to play their game in front of the judges.
The contest runs through June 17.