Celebrate the 4th: 6 water games for pool or lake

With summer comes one of our favorite holidays – the 4th of July, which often includes a long weekend, spending time with family or friends, and (hopefully) some quality water time at a backyard pool, splash pad or lake.

Here are some ideas to make the most of your water time if you’re lucky enough to spend the fourth poolside or lakeside!

First: A water safety refresher

When lots of people, especially kids, get together near water, make sure everyone in the area agrees to the same rules. We encourage you to download and print our 6 Rules flyer and have it handy. As a top-line reminder:

  • Parents are responsible: Supervise kids closely and turn off the phone.
  • No one swims alone.
  • Kids must get permission to enter the water – not just telling, they must make eye contact with an adult who says “yes.”
  • Gather kids and parents and confirm swimming ability before entering the water.
  • Rotate supervision duty among adults.
  • Create a Water Watcher tag to make it easy to know who is on duty, and to make sure people know when the they have been handed responsibility.

The fun part: Our 6 favorite games in the water

In no particular order:

  • Marco Polo: The classic game for pool or lake in standing-depth water. One person is “it” and is blindfolded (or closes their eyes) and when they call “marco” everyone else replies “polo.” The person who is it tries to locate and tag a player using sound. Once tagged, the payer moves to the side – last player standing wins and becomes it.
  • Hungry Hungry Whales: Best for a smaller backyard pool and based on a certain hippo-themed board game. Get a bunch of ping pong balls and a basket for each player. Players put baskets on the side of the pool as a home base, and all the balls are dumped in the middle of the pool. Players swim out, grab the floating balls and return them to their basket. The person with the most wins! (Including one colored ball worth more points adds to the game.)
  • Sharks and Minnows: Good for larger groups in a pool, or shallow water where the ends of the field can be designated with floats or flags. One person starts as the shark, everyone else lines up on one end as minnows. On command, the minnows try to make it across the play area without getting tagged. Once they are tagged, they become sharks. If they make it to safety, they have to go across again. Last minnow wins!
  • Chicken fights: Good for older kids in lakes or large pools where there aren’t concrete edges to fall against. In waist deep water, one player climbs on the other’s shoulders and they joust. Whoever stays up wins. Can be arranged as a tournament.
  • Treasure hunt: For a few swimmers in a pool. Drop rings, sinking pool toys or coins in the water. For stronger swimmers, drop in deeper water. Whoever brings the most targets to the surface wins!
  • Air ball: The classic beach ball game – players stand in a circle and try to keep a beach ball from touching the water. Try a sturdy balloon to give you more air time.

Of course, there are dozens of games you could play, but we hope these favorites of ours inspire you to get out there and enjoy the water this 4th of July! Have fun, be safe and we’ll see you back at the pool soon!



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