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How to Set Up an Obstacle Course in Your Backyard

Got some kids with energy to spare? Help them work it off with an obstacle course.


  • Step 1: Prepare the backyard Pick start and end points for the course and mark them with traffic cones. Map out a trail that includes 10 or 15 feet of space between events and avoids hazards like sinkholes, stumps, and dangerous plants.
  • Step 2: Make a ladder run At the start of the course, place a wooden ladder flat on the ground. Participants run the length of the ladder as fast as they can by stepping between each of the rungs.
  • Step 3: Set up hula hoop alley Lay eight Hula-hoops in a row. In this segment, kids step into the first hula hoop, raise it up over their body, and drop it behind them before going to the the next hoop, moving down the line until they're done.
  • Step 4: Put together a balloon table Inflate about 100 balloons and tie short lengths of yarn or string to them. Tape the ends of the yarn to the top, legs, and underside of the table making a narrow, balloon-covered passageway under the table for the little ones to crawl through.
  • Step 5: Make a balance beam Make a balance beam by laying the 2-by-4 flat on the ground for the obstacle coursers to walk across.
  • TIP: Sand the 2-by-4 to remove any splinters.
  • Step 6: Do the beanbag slalom Stand foam swimming pool noodles vertically in six 1-gallon buckets filled with sand or dirt, and place them in a zigzag pattern about 6 feet apart. Have contestants balance beanbags on their heads as they run around the outside of each bucket.
  • TIP: Set up a basket 10 feet from the end of the slalom to toss the beanbag into before moving on.
  • Step 7: Hop to the finish line Place a large plastic garbage bag 20 feet from the end of the course. Have the kids put both legs in the bag, pull it up to their waist, and hop to the finish line.
  • Step 8: Get grown-ups to help Get a few adults to man the course by returning the hula hoops and the garbage sack to their original positions, repairing the challenges as needed, releasing the kids to run the course one by one, and timing them. Now all that's left to do is let the kids have at it, and award prizes for the fastest times!
  • FACT: Did you know? At the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, cadets must complete a 11-step obstacle course before they can graduate.

You Will Need

  • A backyard or field
  • Two traffic cones
  • A wooden ladder
  • Eight hula hoops
  • Yarn or string
  • Tape
  • 100 balloons
  • A table
  • An 8-foot 2-by-4
  • Six foam swimming pool noodles
  • Six 1-gallon buckets
  • 50 pounds of sand
  • A small tossing beanbag
  • A large trash bag
  • Help
  • Prizes
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • A small basket (optional)

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