Summer nights have the potential to be magical. The warm air, the quiet buzz of cicadas, and the soft glow of lightning bugs and porch lights can make the world feel like a totally different place. This summer, instead of putting your kids to bed with the sun, consider letting them stay up late, discover the outdoors at night, and make memories that will last a lifetime by playing some of these perfect after-dark games.
1 | Ghost in the graveyard
This game works best with three or more participants and in an area with room to run. To start, chose one person to be the ghost and one area to be “base.” The ghost should choose a hiding spot while the other players cover their eyes and count to 30. The first objective of the game is to find the ghost hiding somewhere in the play area. The player who finds the ghost yells “Ghost in the graveyard!” at which point the ghost comes out from his hiding spot and tries to tag one of the remaining players before they make it back to the base. The player who finds the ghost is safe. Whoever the ghost tags is “it” for the next round.
2 | Light beam limbo
This game is a great choice when you have a group of mixed aged kids or a group of kids who prefer low key or less competitive games. Like traditional limbo, players will be tasked with scooting under an ever-lowering bar. In this version though, the bar is a beam of light shined across the play area by a grown-up with a steady hand.
3 | Flashlight hide and seek
Like traditional hide and seek, one player will cover her eyes and count to 30 while the other players choose hiding spots. After calling “Ready or not, here I come!” the seeker will do her best to find the hidden players. In this version of the game, instead of having to tag the hidden players as they’re found, the seeker will shine her flashlight beam on them. Once a child is found, he turns on his own flashlight and looks for other hidden players. The last player to be found is the seeker in the next round.
4 | Glow-stick Capture the Flag
Capture the Flag is typically played in a large outdoor area with at least eight participants. The participants are split into two teams, each with a territory (half of the play space), a flag, and a jail. The object of the game is for one team to successfully capture the flag of the other team and bring it back to their side of the play space. While looking for the flag on the other team’s side, players are subject to being tagged and taken to jail where they can only be freed when another teammate crosses the line to tag them out. For the night time version, consider replacing the flag with a set of glow sticks or any other iridescent material.
5 | Flicker tag
This game is ideal for play in a wooded area or somewhere with lots of room and places to hide. To start, one person is selected as the lightning bug, her objective is to elude capture for as long as possible. At the beginning of the game, all players except the lightning bug must close their eyes and count to 30 as the lightning bug finds an initial hiding spot. The lightning bug should move from hiding spot to hiding spot as quickly and quietly as possible. She also must flicker her flashlight on and off at least once every minute. The player who eventually captures the lightning bug becomes the lightning bug for the next round.