Former scouts, youth group kids and neighborhood-wandering children of decades gone by remember the thrill of playing big, rowdy games outside at night.
But if the rules of those classic games have slipped your memory, never fear: Inland 360 is here to help.
You don’t need much to relive your glory days or introduce the next generation to the joy of running screaming through the dark while a shadowy figure chases close behind. Find yourself a park, play field, forest meadow or big backyard with ample places to hide (and neighbors who aren’t easily annoyed).
Set boundaries and stick to them, and remember to stay off streets and away from parked cars and driveways.
Flashlights and a buddy system are essential for littler kids, but teens (and, admit it, adults) love the rush of stumbling around in the dark alone.
Memory refreshed? Grab some friends and head out under the stars to play.
Hide-and-seek is fun at night, but this reverse version ramps up the challenge. Whoever is It must hide alone, while all the other players count. At the end of the countdown, the players spread out in search of It. Players who find It quietly squeeze into the hiding spot — which leads to plenty of silent(ish) laughter and awkward squishing. Whoever is last to find the group is It next round.
Variation: The hiders — whether the initial It or the whole pack — can move locations.
Kick the Can
There are several opinions on what, exactly, constitutes a game of Kick the Can, but it usually involves a good-sized can (tin for that good-old-fashioned clunky sound) and a relatively open space with a few places to duck behind. The person who is It counts while players hide. After time is up, players try to sneak back to the center to kick the can before It tags them and sends them to a nearby “jail.” Whenever a player successfully kicks the can, everyone in jail is liberated. The game ends when It manages to round up the whole group.
Variation: Possible alterations to this game are endless, so grab a can and get creative.
Ghost in the Graveyard
One person is designated the Ghost. Players gather at a designated home base, then chant as the Ghost dashes off to hide: “One o’clock … two o’clock …” all the way up to midnight, at which point everyone shouts, “I hope I don’t see a ghost tonight” (or something similar — check Google or consult your favorite senior citizen for more elaborate rhymes). Then, players scatter in search of the Ghost. The first player to spot the Ghost screams “GHOST IN THE GRAVEYARD!” and everyone else bolts for home base. Whoever the Ghost tags first becomes the Ghost in the next round.
Variation: Aside from the countdown and “ghost in the graveyard” shout, try playing as quietly as possible for extra spookiness.
Capture the Flag
Playing this classic at night might get too intense for smaller kids, but it’s perfect for teens and adults with a competitive streak. The group splits into two teams and divides the playing territory in half — marked clearly, if possible, to avoid disputes. Each team is given a flag (usually a handkerchief, scarf or small object) to place somewhere in their territory. Teams then strategize how to sneak onto the other side and grab the opposing team’s flag without letting their own be lost. Any player caught and tagged in enemy territory is sent to a previously designated “jail” and can only be liberated with a tag from a teammate. Whichever team successfully gets the opposing team’s flag across the center line wins.
Variation: Replacing tagging with projectiles like Nerf balls, water balloons or paintballs.