Spies aren’t born spies. It takes years of training to gain the skills needed to stay alive in that very dangerous and potentially exciting profession (at least in the movies!) Time to put your family through a little “Farm Training” with this spy themed obstacle course (The Farm – a US military facility in Virginia where clandestine arts are taught to future US spies.)
Here’s the back story – recruits are being sought out all over the country for a specific clandestine mission overseas. Only a few will be selected to go – the best of the best. They’ll need to prove themselves if they want to be considered for the mission. (Remember, if your kids understand the potential story context of the activity they will likely be more excited to participate!) It’s not enough to finish the spy themed obstacle course, they’ll need to show that they can adapt and improve!
There are a lot of ways to create an exciting spy themed obstacle course – each with their own pros and cons. Our suggestion (ESPECIALLY for older kids ages 10+) is to treat it more seriously. The intensity of a video game is often relished for avid players so give them some intensity. There are always things that you can add, however this is our suggestion for a solid course (including multiple instances of the grid and target practice) that they’ll want to repeat (that isn’t too convoluted.)
- LASER GRIDS. This is a simple stringing of red yard between a few stable items. The simple task is to get through the grid without TOUCHING a single yarn. If they touch a yarn, give them a 30 second time penalty (added to their overall time.) You don’t need many strings across – just something to where they have to stop for a moment to consider how they might get through. These are great to include in between other obstacles – preferably in increasing difficulty.
- Target practice. Have positioned at different places a ping pong ball balancing on a golf tee. On the ground some feet away lay a small hand held water squirt gun, filled with water. Their goal is to shoot the ping pong ball off the golf tee with the gun (while laying prone) before their gun runs out of water. Once they shoot the ball off the tee, they can move on to the next part of the course. If they run out of water before they are able to shoot the ball off the tee, then add 30 seconds to their time as a penalty and they are to move on. Again, this is a favorite and it’s good to include a few of these ‘target practice’ stations in your course. How far away do you place the gun from the target? That would depend on the strength of the child and type of gun you are using. We suggest getting some cheap guns at the Dollar Store and testing them out to get a feeling for the distance. For best results, consider making the first target closer/easier…while the final one is the furthest/most difficult. Remember to fill the guns with water before each child begins their run of the course.
- Memorization. Yep, memorization. Why? Well, a spy has to be alert and sharp – because they ARE in the intelligence business. As one of the first stations in the course, write a list of names. Choose the complexity of names based on the age of the participants (how many on the list, first names only or last names as well, foreign names with different spellings, etc.) Tape this list to something like a rock or other object so that they can only see the list if they are close to it. How much time they spend at that station memorizing the list is up to them. However, at the end of the course (potentially the last station) they’ll need to recall all of the names on the list. For every name they forget they get a 15 second time penalty. They’ll need to strategize how much time they want to invest in memorizing based on their own ability.
Just those three aspects of the course (with multiple instances of each) will make for a fun and exciting challenge. Now, keep in mind that they are most likely going to want to go through the course again. Before they can ask, though, explain that they NEED to go through it again…but they have to best their previous time! But don’t tell them this before they go through the first time so that they give it their all the first time. Also, make sure you have different lists of names for each run.
However, if you want to beef it up even more, consider:
- Add a muddy/water component. The older kids may groan…but inwardly they’ll love it. Perhaps in order to get through a certain laser grid, they’ll need to crawl on their stomach…through some mud. Or, perhaps the list of names is inside a plastic bag in the pool with a rock weighting it down…and yes, they’ll need to jump in with their clothes on! Remember, this is an adventure – the more adventurous you make it, the better!
- For the more athletic you can throw in some strength exercises (pull ups, push ups, etc.) Treat it seriously and they’ll do it!
- Try it yourself! Kids LOVE to watch their parents go through things like this…plus, it’s just a lot of fun!
- When explaining the course (so that they understand fully exactly what they are to do) make sure to explain that the list of names are double agents within the CIA. It’s CRUCIAL that they bring those names back to headquarters!
- For multiple kids, it’s often best to let the younger ones go first. Otherwise there could be too high of expectations set after seeing their older athletic brother breeze through it, for example. You know your kids – just a thought to throw out.
- It’s best to hold it outdoors, though it’s not a deal breaker if you don’t have access to a yard. If the weather is poor, ALL the better, especially if there’s some water/mud available.
- If the path of the course isn’t completely clear, it’s best to place some simple arrows on paper on the ground so that your kids won’t get lost on what obstacle to head to next.