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A girl floats on pool noodles in a swimming pool. Image by Sally Wynn, CC0 Public Domain.

Image by Sally Wynn, CC0 Public Domain.

7 summer party games! Perfect for the fun at heart


By Jeremy Steele

Summer is coming quickly. If you’re fun at heart or have anything to do with youth or children’s ministry, it’s time to stock up on summer games. Here are some great ideas to have in your back pocket.

7 summer party games for the fun at heart TWEET THIS TWEET THIS

1. Pool chariot races

Divide your group into two or three teams (depending on the size of the pool). One charioteer rides on a inflatable float (the chariot) and holds the feet of two swimmers (the horses). The swimmers pull the chariot back and forth the length of the pool. The number of laps is up to you, and the first team to complete it wins. This group of chariot swimmers chose not to use inflatable floats which made for a great team-building exercise.

2. Watermelon hockey

Did you know watermelons float? For this game, divide the group into two teams. If you have enough pool noodles for each person to have one, distribute them. If not, the game will work fine (and sometimes better depending on the noodles you do have). Once the teams are set, designate half the pool for Team 1 and the other for Team 2. Split the pool so that each team has some deep and and some shallow water. Treat the floating watermelon as a puck and score “goals” by hitting a specific portion of the other team’s back wall with the watermelon. If using noodles, players may only touch the watermelon with the noodle. If using hands, they may only  touch the watermelon with a fully opened hand. Never lift the watermelon out of the water.

3. Pool noodle spinoff

This is a fun game that you can play double-elimination-style. Have players pair up and give each pair a wet pool noodle. When you say “go,” each player grabs an end of the noodle and the pair spins around until one person lets go. This works as well on wet grass as it does in the pool. If you want to increase the pace of the game, “grease” the noodles by rubbing a little dish detergent on the ends ahead of time.

4. Water cornhole

You know the game. Teams of players try to pitch a beanbag through a hole in a board in a pool, either on a raft or using a custom pool noodle rig. This game becomes even more fun when you float the cornhole out. The game is played using the same rules with the added complication of players being partially submerged while throwing their bean bags.

5. The mystery of ancient numbers

OK, the bus broke down, and you don’t even have a good set of playing cards. So, use whatever’s handy for this riddle-style game. It is simple: you come up with a great story of how you learned an ancient rune number system. Grab whatever is handy (rocks, pens, sticks) and begin to arrange them in a seemingly meaningful pattern leaving some of your fingers resting on the surface beside the “number.” Ask the passengers to guess the number. The answer has nothing to do with the pattern you have made; rather, it will be whatever number of your fingers are on the surface. The only rule is that whenever a student figures it out, he or she cannot tell the others. Every player must figure out the secret for themselves.

6. “Mind reading”

This is another discover-the-trick game that needs a bit of advance prep. This will allow you to “guess” the card without seeing it. Begin by setting up the trick with a partner. Explain that hand/arm position reveals the suit of the card: hands in pockets = diamonds, arms crossed = clubs, arms at side = spades, and hands behind back = hearts. The number of words spoken reveals the face value of the card. Any sentence starting with “OK” has a face value of five. Similarly, “All right” equals 10. The “oblivious” partner draws a card and inconspicuously assumes the appropriate position. Then he or she says a few words to reveal the face value. For example, If your partner stands with their hands to their side and says, “OK, got it. The answer is 7 of spades because the side position is spades and “OK, got it” adds up to 7. OK = 5 and “got it” equals 2. If the card were a Queen (which has a face value of 12), then your partner would say. “All right, got it.” Get it?

7. Ultimate backpack?

If you have enough space to run around safely while you wait for the tow truck or caravan of parents coming to the rescue, you can transform your wait into a customized version of ultimate frisbee. This game uses the rules of ultimate frisbee and swaps the frisbee for anything you have (like a backpack). Depending on the item, you might have to allow more steps to take or specify exactly how to hold and throw the object.

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We hope you have a fun-filled summer with more pool parties than bus breakdowns; but whatever happens, we hope these have you ready for whatever summer throws at you.

If you’re looking for more games, we have everything from fun icebreakers for children to team building exercises for all ages. Check them out and let us know your favorites.

Jeremy Steele

When Jeremy and his wife are not playing with their four children, he oversees youth and college ministries and leads the evening worship service at Christ UMC in Mobile, Al. Jeremy is an author of several books and resources that you can find at or follow him on Twitter!