Tide Pool Search
Grab a guide for your local tide pools and go for a hunt. To make things official, make a scavenger hunt list before you hit the beach. Use your guide to come up with a list of creatures you're likely to find at local tide pools. Include pictures to help your players out. Make sure everyone knows that they need to leave what they find. Use the hunt to get to know the tide pools, learn about Leave No Trace, and build enthusiasm for the ocean.
Bring out the buckets and have a sandcastle building contest. Good for kids and adults alike, sandcastle contests get everyone involved. Divvy up the buckets and shovels between each team. Designate a timekeeper and a judge who stand at the sidelines. When time is called, the judge picks the winner. Think you're too old for sandcastles? Check out Reference 1 for inspiration.
Beach-Side Cook Off
Get the adults involved in a little beach-side cook off. This is a great game for gatherings with multiple families. Choose a theme and tell everyone ahead of time so they can buy their food before the contest. Split into teams of three or four. Have an adult on each team, but if you have kids around, don't leave them out of the fun. Choose judges and a time limit. When time is up, call the judges to choose a winner and bring out the plates for everyone to eat. Research beaches before you leave to make sure they have a designated BBQ area or allow cooking on the beach.
Space is limited in the car when you're on a road or camping trip. Double up the use of your beach towel. Buy a Twister towel for a fun water-break game at the beach. The towel comes with a pair of dice that roll the directions in place of the old game's spinning wheel. The towel, marked with the classic Milton Bradley colored circles, becomes your playing board. Need a refresher on all the rules? Check out Reference 2. You can find the Twister Towel at Reference 3.
Ocean Animal Relay Race
Play this game when you have a group of kids with extra energy or a few adults who need a good laugh. Split into two teams, and mark a start and finish line, just like in a normal relay race. Choose a referee, who also has the title of "animal caller." The ref yells "Go" and calls out the name of an ocean animal. The racers at the start of the line run their leg of the relay with their best interpretation of the ocean animal that the ref called. For example, if the ref calls "Crab!" the people at the start of the line may do the crab walk. Be creative and have fun. Everything from dolphin to sea urchin is fair game.
Article Written By Kathrine Cole
Kathrine Cole is a professional outdoor educator. She teaches rock climbing, backpacking, cycling, and bike maintenance classes. She is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, a Wilderness First Responder, and a Leave No Trace Trainer.