Outdoor Games for Teens

Outdoor Games for Teens can involve a good deal of complexity, a dose of healthy risk, and a great deal of satisfaction and fun! Needless to say, because of the risks inherent in outdoor games for teens, having a solid adult leader can make the difference between a great time or a not-so-great time.

Many of the games listed here (and a whole lot more that aren't) are from
Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature
Coyote's Guide
Here are a few of our favorites:

Blindfold Drum Stalk


Set-up. Space your participants apart from one another and blindfold them. Explain this outdoor game for teens as a solo experience that requires silence and listening. Put everyone at ease by ensuring them that you (and your team of teachers) will be watching to make sure everyone stays safe and doesn't fall off a cliff or into an underground cave full of starving Grizzly Bears. A good distance away from your group of participants, sit down with something loud and resonant to drum on.

Goal. Have the participants stand silently. "Until you hear the first drum beat." Then they will navigate their way across the landscape towards the sound of the drum, until they touch the drummer. Remind the participants that this is not a race. If anyone wins, it will be the one who goes the slowest, because they will learn the most.

Drumming. The drummer beats infrequently, but often enough to inspire movement from the participants. Make a drumbeat every five or ten seconds. Be sure your spot will project the sound, such as from a high hill, or stand on a tree stump.

When you reach the drum. Before beginning, instruct the participants after they touch the drummer, they will move silently away and sit and watch others arrive. Or, to avoid sniggering at the funny site of their peers struggling to walk blindfolded, ask them to sit and be quiet, keeping their blindfolds on until everyone finishes. Challenge the early-comers to sit so still and quiet a bird might come and land on their shoulder. With younger kids, another instructor may be needed to facilitate this.

Of all the outdoor games for teens we play this one needs really close supervision by the team facilitating it, and also has amazing results when stories are shared at the end of the activity.

Nutty Squirrels

How To:

Goal. Mother squirrels guide their blind babies with code-language to navigate the playing field, collect nuts, and fire them at other squirrels. Hit Squirrels go to the sidelines. The last squirrel left in the field, wins. Don't be deceived by the mother/baby language here, this is among the best of outdoor games for teens.

Set Up. Use markers to define your natural boundaries. Play this outdoor game for teens barefoot by both partners, with their socks balled up, tossed into the middle of the playing field, to become Nuts. Remember to check the field for barefoot hazards before playing.

Pair up as Mother and Baby Squirrels. You'll need a minimum of four pairs to play, although larger groups work better. Ask for a volunteer Baby Squirrel, and blindfold the Baby.

Set-up Signals. Before starting, partners agree on sound signals or code language with which the Mothers will guide the babies. Mothers very quietly stay close to their Babies at the beginning without touching them; Mothers don't want to draw other blind squirrels' attention to their Babies. Signals cannot be words, and need to be unique to each pair. Taps, squirrel-like chatters, and quick yelps work great.

Refereeing. To monitor larger games, you will need multiple instructors. When a sock-nut hits a Baby squirrel, Baby and Mother must silently walk out of the playing circle and watch the remaining squirrels fight for their lives. If only the Mother gets hit, the Baby Squirrel stays in, no "on their lonesome" to do everything - with their blindfold still on. Watch the concentration of the last few blindfolded Babies as they listen for nearby footsteps and quietly Fox-walk so they do not betray their location. Watch for folks who demonstrate an uncanny ability to throw their nuts to hit the target, even before Mother Squirrel prompts them. Either their blindfold is loose, or they're more than ready to become a fabulous birder-by-ear.

Last Squirrel Standing. The last squirrel standing wins the round. Have the squirrels on the sidelines - when they aren't rolling on the ground quietly laughing - remain quiet and throw miscast nuts back into the game field.

In comparison to other outdoor games for teens, this one might sound cutesy because of the mother and baby squirrel description. However, even though this can be done by younger children, the strategy and the fun possible with this definitely makes it a great game for teens!


Among outdoor games for teens, Ninja lives up to its name. It demands complete sensory awareness, the ability to improvise in chaotic circumstances, and to have an amazing amount of fun. Ok, I'm not sure if real-life ninjas have fun, but in this game they do.

For the game you'll need a group of at least 2 students, and much larger numbers can be accommodated with some changes. You'll also need a blindfold or two.

How To:

- Find an open flat area where your group can gather, and then form a circle. Form a boundary around the outside edge of the circle with jackets/shoes/etc.

- Choose one or two "ninjas" to start - these will be the folks wearing the blindfolds. Blindfold them and have them come to the center of the circle.

- Now the fun begins! Essentially, the two blindfolded ninjas need to move about the circle (being told when they are moving outside the boundary) with a goal of tagging everyone else who remains inside the circle (besides the other ninja). They can move fast, slow, crawl, jump, etc.

- Once they tag someone, that person moves to the boundary of the circle, and helps to alert the ninjas, or others in the circle when they are approaching/crossing the boundary.

- If someone leaves the boundary to escape the ninjas, they are automatically "caught" and become part of the outer circle with others who were actually tagged.

- At times, it will be easy to evade the ninjas, and at others almost impossible. It's a good idea to have a facilitator who keeps the challenge up by slowly moving in the circle of folks on the boundary as the number of folks trying to elude the ninjas gets smaller.

- The round ends when the ninjas have tagged everyone who started out in the circle. Usually, the last two folks to be tagged then become the ninjas for the next round.

- Played barefoot by all, this outdoor game for teens becomes a battle of senses and creativity where speed means little and moving quietly is essential.

We'll post more outdoor games for teens here so stay tuned!

Play well!

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