A preparedness challenge for all ages.
The key to transferring the disaster obstacle course game into real preparedness is the conversation after you finish. Your family will love this game!
January has been a month of surviving! Snowstorms, ice storms, winter break, snow days, sick days, the flu (2x), and an ear infection all visited our Oregon home. We did get lucky enough to have the weather semi-clear and the sickness subside long enough to spend a weekend at the Oregon Coast Aquarium with our 4 oldest kids for some much needing bonding time.
Being in the military is hard on families, so the military works really hard to strengthen them with activities and training to get us through the unique challenges military life presents. This game was one of those opportunities, and it was awesome!
The military understands that the foundation of resilience is the strength of the family.
Each year the Oregon National Guard not only put together family friendly events full of fun, but they organize camps, leadership opportunities for the youth, learning experiences for all ages, and lots of family training.
This year our state youth and family program has chosen to focus on emergency preparedness and have been including it in their plans and activities. Love it! Our weekend kicked off with emergency planning and we played the best preparedness game I’ve ever seen!
They’ve inspired me to create or share a game each month for you to do as a family. Fun and games are really the best way to learn in my opinion. So with their permission, I’m sharing this game with you to kick off a year of family preparedness.
Our leaders, Hank and Sarah, feel that disasters aren’t much more than a realistic obstacle course, so they created this one to simulate and teach disaster preparedness. And they nailed it!
This game is so clever and it really helped my kids understand how the obstacles represented related to real-life disaster situations. It was so fun to hear their insights before, after, and during the game.
This game also encourages teamwork and communication before the clock starts and during the course. This can be done by simply racing the clock and afterward my kids asked to do it again to try and beat their time.
Another way to play the obstacle course could be a trust-building exercise with other families in your church or neighborhood.
Supplies for the Game
Use what you have at home or purchase from the dollar store. The total cost to set it up is no more than $5.
- 6 cones, boxes, or chairs to create your course with
- Hula hoops or a long length of rope
- A few 4-6″ rubber balls or medium beach balls
- A few kids blocks
- 2 Dice
- A blindfold
- A small backpack or first aid kit (simulate your emergency kits)
- 2 Small table or upside down bucket as starting and halfway points
- Lots of space (gym, yard, etc.)
Set up the Course
Set up 6 cones in a weaving pattern far enough apart for a large family to be able to get around them.
Set up the beginning area with 1 die, a block, the backpack or first aid kit, the hoops, and 2 balls.
Set up the halfway area with 1 die and the blindfold
The length of the course is up to you. Ours was about 50ft (estimated).
Let’s Play Disaster Obstacle Course
These are the exact instructions they gave us. So once again, Hank and Sarah get all the credit! The instructions look a bit overwhelming, but once you get started it’s actually not complicated.
- Families roll the dice at the beginning to find out what emergency scenario they are experiencing. Read the applicable emergency scenario based on the dice number rolled and follow the instructions before starting the course.
- With your family, you must bring 2 beach balls and a wood block to one end and back while weaving between the barriers.
- The balls must be set between individual family member’s legs and the wood block must rest between any areas of two family member’s bodies. The beach balls and wood block cannot touch the ground.
- Family members must travel inside the hula hoop together. They can use more than one if needed for space, but they need to have hold of the hoops at all times to create a family chain.
- Once the family gets to the halfway point (one end), they must roll the dice again to see what twist they have on the return trip. Follow the instructions on the dice roll.
- At the halfway point, families can set their items on the ground and reset if they need before completing the second half of the disaster obstacle course.
- If the balls of block are dropped on the ground, the family must move back two steps and start again.
- Families will time themselves to see how quickly they can complete the challenge.
Download the disaster obstacle course instructions to learn about how to move through the disaster scenarios while experiencing an earthquake, house fire or tsunami.
Tips for success:
-Read through the directions as a family before you get started and be sure the kids understand them.
-Make your plan so everyone has a role. In our family E and L were in charge of the beach balls, B and T had the block. We determined how many hoops we needed, had a designated dice roller and a “family member” victim.
-Keep the sheet with you as you go through the course for quick referral.
-Laugh and have fun, because as you can see from our pictures, you will look ridiculous!
Let it all Sink In!
I’m a firm believer in experiential learning. The key to really transferring this game into real preparedness is the conversation after your course. These are some of the questions we asked our kids, and that the facilitators asked us as a family.
- Which emergency do you think you handled best as a family? As an individual?
- What part was most challenging for you and your family? And how would that look in a real emergency situation?
- How were some of the halfway point obstacles different from each other? Which one was easiest to deal with?
- What part of the course did you like best?
- What do you think each part of the game would be in the real situation?
- What do you think is in these disasters that aren’t represented in the obstacle course?
- As a family or individual, how do you feel we would do in these situations if they were real?
- After this obstacle course, what do you feel we need to work on to be prepared as a family?
- Are there changes or things we need to add or think about for our family emergency plans?
- Could you create an obstacle course for a different disaster? Then do it and try it!
And as always we’d love your input! How did this go for your family? If you created your own version or added another disaster scenario, please share it with us!