The typical 4-H community club meeting incorporates fun and learning in various forms like the business meeting, demonstrations, and project bookwork. Some clubs compliment these regular meetings with special gatherings for community service, fundraising, and site visits. With so many elements to complete in short meeting timeframes, recreation is frequently forgotten.
|(Photo by pixabay.com.)|
Positive youth development centers around the proverbial three-legged stool of safe, educational, and fun. As you look at the elements listed in the first paragraph, how many fall into the “fun” category? Not as many as our youth would like. Adding a quality recreation time to each club meeting will provide for a balanced, enjoyable experience for 4-H members.
Why do recreation at club meetings?
Well-led recreation provides a number of benefits to youth participants.
- Recreation Leader is a formal officer position, so it provides a safe opportunity for leadership development.
- Encourages the fourth “H” of Health at the club level.
- Balances out the less attractive (for youth) components of a club meeting.
- Opportunity for youth to engage in positive social activities.
Principles of Great Club-Level Recreation
Now that you know why recreation at the 4-H community club level is beneficial, it is important to discuss the five principles of great recreation activities. Work with your club’s recreation leader to ensure these principles drive your activities.
- Safely designed and executed: Consider equipment, site, player abilities, and weather as you prepare and play the game/activity.
- Purposeful: Though not all activities will fit this description, try to incorporate life skill building; generally, the activities should be semi- or noncompetitive.
- Available to every youth: Choose games that allow all ages and abilities to (potentially) experience success; this may require a separate activity for Cloverbuds.
- Minimal downtime: Choose games that keep youth “in” more than “out.”
- Peak finish: Conclude the activity while everyone is still having fun.
|Recreation is great component of 4-H community club meetings. In this picture, Cloverbuds collaboratively play “This is a…” (see back page for game instructions).|
Recreation Activity Sampler
Recreation ideas for club settings are endless. Here are four easy options for you to consider.
Knee2Knee: Have everyone get a partner that is approximately the same height. Form two circles like a circle dance with partners facing each other. When the music starts the circles walk in opposite directions at a nice even pace. When the music stops, a caller will loudly announce two (safe!) body parts. The partners must then scramble to find one another and touch those two body parts together. For example, if the call is "knee to elbow," one partner’s elbow will connect to the other partner’s knee. The last partnership to connect is “out” but they become spotters on the outside of the circle in subsequent rounds. Play until only one team remains. Play two rounds. [Indoor/outdoor; ages 8 to 18; 15-20 minutes]
One-base Kickball: A fast-paced version of kickball which uses one base (located in right-center field) and an assortment of soft ball types (e.g., soft football, beach ball) to even the playing field for all ages based on pitcher’s discretion. If a kicker successfully makes it to the base, he/she may remain there until the final member of the team kicks that inning or when a good opportunity to run home presents itself (after a kick only!). The final kicker of each inning must go all the way out and back without stopping which produces an element of fun and team strategy. Outs are recorded if the fielding team catches a kick in the air or fields the ball and throws it at the kicker and successfully hits him/her below the shoulders. Each team member kicks once per inning. This version keeps youth involved far more than regular kickball. [Outdoor; ages 5 to 18; 20-30 minutes]
This is a…: Form a circle. Take an object that can be many different things (e.g., short rope) and have a member act out a brief scene with what they consider the object to be (e.g., lasso, jump rope, fancy belt). Repeat with the next member of the circle. Continue until no one can think of any more uses for that object. Try a second object and conclude. [Indoor; ages 5 to 11; 10-15 minutes]
Supersized Dutch Blitz: Prior to the activity, you will make cards with 8.5 x 11 inch cardstock that duplicate the common card game Dutch Blitz®. Play is similar to the card game, but more life-sized. You will have four to five people per team with some serving as card flippers, some as runners to the center room piles, etc. Emphasize safety for the runners so there are no collisions. [Indoor; ages 5 to 18; 20-30 minutes]
In addition to these ideas, consider the four main types of recreation activities as you make selections for your club:
- Table/board games
- Camp/recreation games
- Cooperative/team-building activities
- Sports activities
|Regular Dutch Blitz (pictured) is fun enough, but when you make it supersized youth love it even more! (Photo provided by Wikipedia.)|
Each of these types has important season, audience, and/or site considerations. What is most important is to select from a variety of these types throughout your 4-H club year. Maintaining a dynamic program will keep all ages engaged.
Recreation Leader resources such as a yearly program guide, more game ideas, and an activity planning worksheet are available from Ohio 4-H by visiting: ohio4h.org/families/members/officer-resources (toward the bottom of the page).
The American Camp Association offers numerous recreation resources for sale as well as this complimentary option: acacamps.org/resource-library/camping-magazine/find-something-do-no-prop-games-camp.
Several outdoor group game resources are available from the author at email@example.com.