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Special Issues & Guides » Summer Events Guide

Lawn Olympics: Make it Count This Fourth of July

How to organize and host your annual 2012 Lawn Olympics.

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There is something just inherently awesome about the Fourth of July holiday.

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s not tied to any particular religious tradition or greeting card campaign. Maybe it’s the fact that it falls right in the heart of summer break for students. Whatever it is, the Fourth of July always stands out as one of the great days of the year.

The best way to enjoy it isn’t riding in a car on the way to a national park or standing in line at airport security.

No the Fourth is about being outside with a pool nearby to dip your toes surrounded by good friends and, if necessary, family. If you can get enough of them together, a surefire way to whittle away the day is with a full slate of yard games.

While such games make for a great casual distraction, I prefer to center the entire day around activities like bags (cornhole), washer toss, horse shoes and bocce ball—a sort of yard game Olympics if you will.

Here’s a few tips for organizing a full day of friendly competition:

1) Plan Ahead — Find out which friends and family are into the idea and willing to commit to the great Lawn Olympics of 2012.

2) Divide teams based on gender, geography (eastside vs. west side), age or simply by drawing straws. You can always wait until the day of and conduct a draft, but this impedes pre-event smack talk.

3) Decide on a format. This includes the games to be played and a scoring system. Having multiple game “stations” allows more people to compete. For instance, two teams can be playing horseshoes while two more are playing bocce. This not only makes for faster play it keeps people involved which is important—be forewarned that interest wanes as idle alcohol consumption increases.

4) Stick to the schedule and keep score. Having a running “medal” tally keeps everyone motivated and keeps the competitive juices flow. Sticking to the schedule helps move play along, ensuring that you’ll get in all your events.

5) Determine a prize. Even if it’s just bragging rights, it’s important to know the stakes. Other ideas include a loser-hosted Labor Day barbeque or a repurposed plaque or trophy that can be displayed prominently and if necessary paraded around on special occasions as a reminder of yard conquests past.

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