One of the great joys of cottaging is the quality time that you get to enjoy with family. Whether it’s paddling around the lake, exploring the local trails, lounging on the dock, or toasting marshmallows around a campfire at the end of the night, cottage country is one place where you can spend time with your loved ones without the distractions of life at home. But while relaxing with family is nice, nothing beats some friendly athletic competition for bonding. Here are some suggestions on how you can raise the stakes on your family time at the cottage this weekend.
A volleyball or badminton net is a low-cost addition that will add countless hours of family fun at the cottage. Either string it between two trees, or buy one that comes with support poles. Better yet, if you have a sandy beach area, set it up there for a soft landing.
Once the net is up, you can use it for regular games, such as volleyball or badminton, or get creative. Using a beach ball to play volleyball is a great way to get younger kids involved. If you’re feeling particularly limber, try your hand, er, feet at a sport called footvolley. This game, invented on Brazil’s famed Copacabana Beach, is played much like volleyball, with the key difference being that players are only allowed to use their feet.
There are a number of lawn games you can play at the cottage, even if you don’t have a lawn. Traditionally, horseshoe stakes are placed 40’ apart but if you don’t have that much room available, just inform guests that you’re playing by “cottage rules.”
Bocce is another fun game where players try to get their balls closest to the target, a smaller ball called the jack. A regulation court is 90’ long, but any space will do. And the uneven terrain of cottage properties only adds to the fun.
If space is limited, ladder golf is great cottage option where players toss bolos—short pieces of string with two golf balls tied at either end—and try to loop them around a three-rung “ladder.” You can build a set yourself (see the Summer 2008 issue of Cottage Life, “High Stakes and Ladders” p.119) or buy a readymade kit.
Regardless of the game you’re playing, you can even things up for younger participants by setting up a line closer to the target for them to start from.
Who doesn’t love a scavenger hunt? And most cottages are filled with unusual items to search for: lifejackets, paddles, fishing gear, and so on. Add in natural elements such as leaves, shells, and fungi and you can easily come up with a challenging list of treasures to find.
You can also make it a rainy day activity by coming up with a list of items to find inside the cottage, such as pieces from board games, a book of matches, or an issue of Cottage Life magazine.
To balance out the odds when multiple generations of the family are playing, you can give different criteria depending on the age of the participant. Ask the youngsters to find “a pretty leaf” or “a sparkly rock,” while teens and adults have to seek out, say, beech leaves and a chunk of Canadian Shield.
After a vigorous horseshoe tournament and a few rounds of beach volleyball, participants will likely want to scavenge one last item: a tube of RUB•A535™ Extra Strength Heating Cream. Rub some in to ease the pain and help ensure you’re up for the next round of competition tomorrow.