By Sally A Kane, J.D., Published: June 18, 2010, Photos by Jacek Chabraszewski, dreamstime.com
Whether you own a cabin on a lake, a cottage by the sea or a ranch by the river, water sports offer a fun and relaxing pastime during the summer months. A vast array of water sports exist to suit a variety of aquatic preferences, from boating, fishing and rafting to water-skiing, tubing and scuba diving. While these activities are fun, they often require planning and expense.
Instead, here are a few exciting water activities that are fun for the whole family and don’t require costly equipment. So grab some friends and a bathing suit and dive in!
This classic water game, named for the Venetian explorer of the late 1200s, is a form of tag played in a small body of water, or in a larger one if boundaries are established. One player, designated “Marco,” counts to 10 with his eyes closed while the other players spread out in the water. With his eyes shut, Marco must find the other players by shouting “Marco,” to which players must respond “Polo.” Players are allowed to swim away from Marco to avoid being tagged. If a player is tagged, he/she then becomes Marco.
In some variations, a player can climb out of the water onto the shore or the dock to avoid being tagged. However, if Marco shouts, “Fish out of water,” the person out of the water becomes Marco.
Shark and Fish
Shark and Fish is another popular water tag game in which one player, designated the “shark,” attempts to tag the other players (the “fish”) as they swim from one boundary line to the other in the water. Tagged fish are frozen and cannot move until they are unfrozen by another fish. The shark wins once he tags and freezes all fish. The fish win if they all successfully make it across the water and back.
Snorkeling allows you to explore the mysteries of the ocean, lakes, rivers and streams near your cabin. This aquatic activity opens up a whole world beneath the water’s surface, teaches kids about nature and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. To get started you will need to purchase snorkeling gear – a snorkel breathing tube, facemask and swim fins. Quality sets start at around $40, although you can purchase equipment for less.
For those with ocean area retreats, snorkeling unveils an amazing undersea world. You can observe marine life in its natural habitat, swim with dolphins, observe beautiful coral, explore sunken wreckage or search for shells in shallow ocean areas.
If your cabin is not near the seashore, you can still have a blast with a snorkel in a lake, stream or pool. You can bury items at the bottom and search for “treasure,” develop hand signals and practice underwater communication – or grab an underwater camera and photograph lake life or each other. You can also purchase laminated fish field-guide cards, available at many dive shops, and hold a fish scavenger hunt to see who can find the most species.
Beach Ball Balance
A simple beach ball presents a vast and inexpensive array of water entertainment options. For example, in Beach Ball Balance, players (or teams of players in a relay) race from one water boundary line to the other and back while balancing on a beach ball with arms locked around its circumference. Players who fall off the ball or unlock their arms are eliminated from the game. The first player back to the starting point wins.
In Dolphin Relay, team members race from one water boundary line to the other and back while pushing the ball with their noses and forehead. If a player touches the ball with his hands or any other part of his body, he must start over.
To play water basketball, simply throw a round object, such as an inner tube or plastic ring, into the water to serve as a basket. Players attempt to sink a beach ball into the hoop. The basket’s constant movement across the water makes this game challenging and fun.
Otherwise, if you want to play the old-fashioned way, you can buy a hoop for your dock from a source like Perfectswim.com or Swimways.com starting at $50.
Volleyball is a classic game that can be played on the beach, on the dock or in the water. Two teams stand on opposite sides of the net and try to score points by grounding a ball on the other team’s court. To play this game, you don’t need a regulation volleyball court or ball. Let the water serve as your court and a beach ball as your ball.
There are plenty of options online if you’d rather buy a volleyball set complete with net that’s designed for the water. Target offers a volleyball and badminton combo set on its website, www.target.com, for about $60.
Another variation of volleyball is balloon ball. Two teams stand on opposite sides of the net, place a water balloon in the center of a beach towel and attempt to toss the balloon over the net into the other team’s towel.
With a little creativity, you can make up your own water game or a variation of the games above. No matter what aquatic pastime you choose, you can be sure that it will offer fun, exercise and cool relief on a hot summer day.
Sally Kane is a freelance writer who enjoys swimming, boating and other water activities at her cabin on the lake. Original post here.