What Are Your Best Swimming Pool Activity Ideas?

Posted on: 06/17/08 8:58 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Today’s EZINE features some of our best swimming pool activity ideas. In that EZINE I told you that I’d blog about it so you could add your own ideas using the comment feature of this blog. (We are reworking the back end of our site right now so that you’ll be able to comment, vote, etc. with all our articles and resources. But for today you can use my blog to add your 2 cents.)

So check out our “Top 10 Swimming Pool Activity Ideas” below… and then add your own!

HERE’S OUR TOP 10 SWIMMING POOL IDEAS: some entire events, some games and activities. Some of these require bigger pools like those at camps or community centers. Others could be done in the pools in people’s backyards.

Dive In Movie Night: This is one of my favorite summer activity ideas. In high school ministry I try to rotate this one in at least every four years so kids get to experience it once. Basically, watch a “water” themed movie while floating in the pool (personally, I always select “Jaws”). Have everyone bring something to float on (we never charged admission, a tube or a raft was their ticket in). Click here for more about this event   idea.

Water Joust: This activity is always a hit (no pun intended). Two people stand on a large raft and battle each other with noodles or blow up toys like the traditional joust game. (This requires a pretty large inflatable raft that at least two students can stand on and battle each other- I’ve done this on the traditional “queen size” inflatable mattress made for the water. This can ONLY be done in a large pool where kids can stand on a raft with no danger of falling and hitting their heads on the pool edge. Have spotters with flotation devices at the edge of the pool for an extra safety stop). Rotate different kids through battling each other. Have a championship at the end for those with the most wins. For large groups only a few can participate; but it’s a great spectator sport.

Change Dive: Simple but loved by all. Get anywhere from $10 to $100 in change: quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. Throw it all in and spread throughout the pool. Gather everyone around the edge of the pool. Offer a prize for the person who collects the most money and yell “Go!”

Watermelon Polo: Get a small to medium sized watermelon and smear it in some sort of petroleum jelly like Vaseline. Float a hula hoop on each end of the pool and divide into teams. Play water polo with the greased melon and the floating hoops as goals. Great fun!

Summer Luau: Don’t underestimate the popularity of the age ol’ Hawaiian themed pool party with grass skirts, coconuts and tiki torches. Play Hawaiian music, serve tropical fruit drinks and cook Pumba! (Hakuna Matata!)

Raft Creation: This competition takes a little more time. Give each group or team a certain number of the largest trash can bags you can find and some tape/rope etc. You can inflate them, cut them, tape them… anything. See who can build the strongest raft and then, at a specified time, race across the width of the pool.

Belly Flop Contest: Yes, the ol’ belly flop contest is always a hit. Give each person an opportunity to get themselves ready, get into a quick costume (cape, mask, draw a target on their belly with a sharpie…), then announce them one at a time. Have a panel of judges hold up numbers, rating them 1-10.

Pool Waterskiing: Yes, you can water ski in a pool! (Only do at a camp or some place with an Olympic sized pool!) The trick is in the pulling. I use to see it done at a camp where they had a pickup truck ready to pull just outside the pool fence. The key is that you DON’T tie the rope to the truck… you have a strong staff guy bracing himself and holding a water ski rope in the back of a truck just outside the pool area. When the skier yells, “Hit it!” the truck takes off and skis the person 3/4 the way across the pool before the person in the truck lets go of the pull rope (for safety). (Try it several times in advance with some staff people to get the timing down and to know when to let go of the rope. Also have spotters with flotation devices at the edge of the pool for an extra safety stop).

Poolside Steal the Bacon: Just like Steal the Bacon with its many variations, but in the pool. Two teams can either be in the water or standing on the opposite sides of the pool (if you have a deep enough deep end that allows for safe diving in). The “Bacon” can be anything (ball, rag, raft, a penny, be creative here) and can be floating on the water, sunk to the bottom, or even in the process of sinking.

Water Ballet: Give each team (works best with teams of less than 10 people) a certain amount of time to perform a synchronized swimming/water ballet routine that involves EVERY team member. Play classical music through a sound system or boom box, if possible.

13 Replies to “What Are Your Best Swimming Pool Activity Ideas?”

  1. The JUMP/DIVE Game is always fun. Kids go off the diving board and just as they are leaving one person yells “JUMP” or “DIVE” and that player has to do what it yelled. It’s a lot of belly flops, flips and just plain craziness!

  2. These seem like they would be a lot of fun but I am a bit skeptiacal about pool activities and such. I try not to be a stick in the mud but I cringe sometimes at the idea of having my female studnets walking around in practically thier underwear in front of my male students. I know I am probably over conservitive but I would love to know what your oppinion is. I am quite new to youth ministry, two years. I am very young myself (20). I am the full time youth pastor at our church and though our pastor is a big help he generally leaves desicions like this up to me.

    When first faced with the beach issue I told my girls that if thier grandma wouldn’t wear it neither should they. I quickly found out that their grandma and my grandma probably wouldn’t have been BFF. I don’t know where exactly to draw the line and to make that line very clear to my students. I also am worried about visiting students at these activity’s, where do I draw the line with them?

    I know that this isn’t an idea for a pool party but if you (jonathon) or anyone else has ideas I would really appreciate it.

    Thanks and God Bless!
    Hannah Marie.

  3. This comment is for Hannah Marie. My husband and I are the youth leaders at our church, and our rule has always been boys and girls both have to wear shorts and a tshirt (preferably a dark one) over their swimsuits. This helps with the modesty issue some without taking away the fun of water activities.

  4. All right… some people are starting to bring up the issue of modesty. Yes, this can be a little difficult to handle. And I think we can err on both the side of leniency or over-reaction. Neither extreme is good.

    On one side of the equation we allow girls to wear suits that leave nothing to the imagination and our guys struggle big time! On the other extreme… adult leaders become Nazis that chase off kids forever (especially outreach kids). Just realize that some of these girls are allowed to wear these suits at home, their moms wear these suits… and now you’re treating them like Jezebel just because they’re doing what they’ve grown up doing. Be careful.

    So be smart. Find a way to try to establish some guidelines and enforce them “WITH LOVE and COMPASSION.”

    We talked about this in our HELP ME section of Podcast Episode 6 and also on our ASK THE SOURCE page here: http://www.thesource4ym.com/askthesource/QandA.asp?ID=11

    I hope that helps!

  5. Allison Fox
    Good idea, thank you. Like I said, I am young and new to this, I really appreciate the advice.

    Thanks for your advice as well Jonathon. I will check out the podcast. I havn’t been reading your blog or using thesourceforym for long but I really appreciate finding it.

    God is Good!!!

  6. I’ve worked with Jr. high for over 15 years and we consistently struggle with modesty in the group. We finally settled on allowing girl’s to wear two-piece suits that are modest and cover the stomachs. This is partly because some one-piece suits are worse and because of the effect being too strict would have on kids who needed to be there. For our boys, the suits have to stay on by themselves and some underwear showing out the top is okay. In addition to these guidelines we always have dark colored t-shirts on hand that girls can wear if they come with a suit that is too revealing and my female staff are prepared to talk to them in a loving way. Here also is the policy from the Christian camp we take our kids to: “Modesty is the key!
    Girls: No two-piece bathing suits of any kind (including tankinis). No bare midriffs, no spagetti-strap tank tops or dresses. Please be mindful of short shorts.
    Guys: No Speedo swimsuits or underwear showing above the waistline”

  7. False modesty is ridiculous: these Christian camps are full of prudes. Best to ignore them. Why should any boy wear those silly, bulky trunks to swim in? Might as well just swim in street clothes, since there’s little difference between walking shorts and board shorts. Impractical and totally illogical.

  8. I have a question for someone in the field of education when dealing with an ODD/LD child in a pool setting. My daughter is volunteering with a clinic where disabled children have a chance to strengthen themselves in a pool setting. Most of the children have a true physical disorder. This particular child has more of a behavior disorder and is in need of exercise. She appears to have a learning disorder as well as she seems to understand and speak at a level much lower than her chronological age. She is aggressive, kicks, hits, squirts water, yells “NO” and will not do the activities needed to assist her. What can be done to assist this child? Also what activities can be done so that both she and my daughter are safe? I would love for both of them to really enjoy this time together. They can both learn something from this. Please help.

    1. Kathy,
      It sounds like the activities that are probably the best for the LD student are not as physically active as she is looking for. Or maybe she doesn’t understand what is expected of her and so she is deflecting her frustration and embarrassment by “acting out”. Just a thought, but maybe there is a really active game or physical therapy that she can do first to blow off a whole bunch of energy. Then do the activities, or therapies that are more instruction or one-on-one intensive where she has to listen to your daughter more.

      Another idea is to turn her into the instruction giver, or supply organizer – anything that helps her feel powerful or have “authority”. This gives her the sense that she is in control, but still has her being helpful and productive. A lot of kids, given the chance, would rather make sure everyone else is doing something right, than have pointed out to them that they are wrong. (Especially if they are young mentally, but not chronologically.) Maybe your daughter could approach her by “asking for help” with some thing, rather than “giving instruction” – at least for a while, until she has a relationship with the girl. Good luck, this sure isn’t easy, but “all God’s children…”

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