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When the Weather Doesn’t Cooperate

By Adam

The weather forecast is calling for ideal weather for your outdoor activities, it’s looking like the perfect day. Then BAM! Mother nature decides to flip your plans on their head and laugh as you scramble to entertain 100 rambunctious, energetic, just filled up on sugar and Mt. Dew teenagers expecting the highlight of their retreat. It’s the reality of event planning outdoors; sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Enter plan B (or C). You do have a plan B right? You have already spent countless hours planning, gathering supplies and trying new games with your friends. Don’t let a change in the weather ruin your event. Toss these ideas in your back pocket and pull them out when mother nature decides to call an audible.

Too Hot?

The answer seems obvious right? Go to the pool or lake, easy, day saved, next! But what about the off season when the pool or lake front isn’t open? It’s not the July heat wave you need to worry about, you knew that was coming. It’s the heat wave in early May or in the Middle of September that is more likely to derail your plans.

You’re up a creek! Literally. After checking with your retreat center staff about the safety of the creek and property lines, take your group and head out on a hike, in the mud, in the water that everyone is happy to “slip” into amidst the unbearable heat. Of course, you’ll want to keep safety in the front of your mind. Shoes should be worn and moving water is much stronger than you think. A small creek with knee deep, barely moving water is what you are after. Applying sunscreen before embarking on your journey would be a great idea as well. Mud masks are free of charge, who needs a spa anyway?

No creek? No problem! Head to the hardware store and grab a few cheap trash cans and some small buckets. Drill a bunch of holes into the trash cans at various heights and sizes. Find a water source (a hose will do) and fill another trash can (that doesn’t have holes) with water and keep the water flowing. Now, part of your group will take the small buckets, fill them at your water source and run 10 yards to the holey trash can where the other half of your group is waiting to use their bodies to plug the holes in the can. Make it a competition by having multiple cans being filled at the same time. The first group to fill the can to the top (or to the designated line) gets to claim victory. Best part? Everyone wins because they are now wet, cooled off and happy.

Duck, Duck, Goose! Your retreat participants may think they are too old to play the old standby children’s game. However, they’ll want to participate when they see the buckets of water make an appearance. Fill a large container (a clean trash can) with water and have one smaller bucket (plastic coffee can or ice cream bucket) to be filled from the large container. Then it’s duck duck goose as normal, except instead of tagging the “goose”, the bucket of water is dumped on their head. Then it’s off to the races. The great part is everyone gets splashed with the cooling water even if they aren’t chosen as the “goose.”

There’s a Storm a Brewin!

The forecast says 0% chance of rain, yet here it is, RAIN! Provided there are no safety factors involved, this could be a fantastic addition to your outdoor activities. Keep your plans and do them in the rain anyway, it adds another element to your activity courtesy of mother nature. Human Foosball, volleyball or kickball in the rain can be a ton of fun (and slippery)!

However, severe weather is another story and not something to be messed with. Thunderstorms necessitate indoor activities. The National Weather Service recommends suspending all outdoor activities and seeking shelter at the first sound of thunder or lightening sighting and waiting 30 minutes after the last lightening sighting or sound of thunder before resuming your activities. Sure, it puts a damper on your activities, but keeping your participants safe is your first priority.

Head and shoulders, knees and cup. If you’re headed inside, try this while you wait out the weather. All you need to grab is a sleeve of party cups. You’ll need at least one cup for every two people. Having extras is a good idea since many of the cups will be destroyed by the end of the game. Have everyone grab a partner and each pair grabs a cup. The cup is set on the floor between the 2 people. Someone with a loud voice or microphone is the “caller.” The caller proceeds to call out body parts in the “Head and shoulders, Knees and toes” fashion. Include all appropriate body parts, ankles, feet, ears, hair, neck, waist etc. At some unexpected point in the sequence, call out “cup!” The first person to grab the cup is the winner and moves on. The winners find a new partner among the other winners and complete again. Continue this until there is a grand champion of “Head and shoulders, knees and cup.” Encourage the participants that are “out” to cheer on those still “in.” It’s an easy time filler that gets your attendees up and moving while you wait for mother nature to cooperate.

Too Windy?

High winds aren’t something you may think of when it comes to severe weather, but there is a chance that high winds can shut down your plans. Especially if your plans include a high ropes course, zip line, climbing tower or other adventure recreation involving heights. Always follow the recommendations of your challenge course facilitators. They are trained to keep you and your guests safe, including the times of high winds. High winds have the potential to stop a zip line participant before reaching the landing area, potentially resulting in a rescue situation that puts your guests, and the challenge course facilitators, at risk.

Foot Tag. If high winds keep you grounded, try this instead, you don’t even need props! Have all your guests circle up. You can have as many guests as you like or as few as 3 guests in your circles. Foot tag is played by one person starting and touching their foot to a foot of the player next to them. When that player is tagged, they must keep the touched foot planted and move their free foot to touch a foot of the person next in the circle. A player is “out” if they have any part of their body other than their feet touching the ground or if they move their feet once planted. The first round is pretty easy, it’s the second round and beyond that creates chaos and confusion and where the fun begins. (This game does result in very close proximity with other players, be sure to take male/female interaction into account when forming groups)

Give mother nature a show of your own! The weather won’t ruin your event if you prepare ahead of time. On the bright side, if you don’t need plan B, you have activities already planned for your next event. Or, keep plan B in your back pocket for your next outdoor activities. After all, mother nature is un-predictable; just ask the weatherman.

Christian Retreats Network /

Based at Lake Williamson / PO Box 620 / Carlinville, IL 62626