DIY: Use Everyday Objects to Make Three Outdoor Games

What sounds better than playing games with friends and family under the sun or a starry sky? Here’s what: Playing games you make yourself with recycled objects and things you find around your house. We’ve got instructions for making three outdoor games below. Just be sure to play them in places like picnic areas and car-camping sites so that you don’t stomp all over the nature. Oh, and remember, have fun out there!

1. Midnight Bowling

Object of the game: Knock down the most pins.

What you’ll need:

  • 10 or more glow sticks
  • 10 clear plastic water bottles from the campground recycling bin (about 16–20 fl. oz. in size)
  • A small- to medium-size ball (bigger than a baseball, smaller than a soccer ball)
  • Water

Soccer ball, water bottles and glow sticks used for midnight bowling

Glow sticks, soccer ball and water bottles

Step 1: Assemble the pins

First, fill all the bottles with water. Then crack your glow sticks and drop them in. Screw on the lids and you’re done.

Putting glow sticks in filled plastic water bottle

Step 2: Set up your bowling lane

Line up your pins in the classic triangle formation. You can use more glow sticks to create a bowling lane if you want to take it to the next level.

Midnight bowling setup


  • Use a ball that’s heavy enough to knock over the pins. Or use less water in the bottles so they will tip over more easily.
  • Be mindful of where you’re rolling—you don’t want to roll the ball into a stream or off a cliff.
  • You can put some reflective tape on the ball to make it easier to find.


2. Washers 2.0

Object of the game: Toss the most washers in the cup, or get them as close as possible.

What you’ll need:

  • Plastic bin (about the size of a shoebox)
  • PVC coupling
  • PVC end cap
  • Adhesive hook-and-loop tape
  • Six large metal washers (but not so large that they won’t fit into the PVC cup)

Step 1: Assemble the cup

Put the end cap on the end of the PVC joint.

Plastic bin with adhesive hook-and-loop tape

Step 2: Attach the cup to the bin

Stick a few pieces of the hook-and-loop tape onto the bottom of the end cap. Trim to fit. Put the other side of the hook-and-loop pieces in the center of the plastic bin. Last, stick them together, and you’re done.

Attach the cup to the plastic bin


  • The same plastic bin can be used to hold other camping items, such as cooking utensils, when you’re not playing the game. Just make sure to clean it when you’re done playing.
  • It can be helpful to mark three of the washers with one color and the other three with another color to help keep track of points. Spray paint or tape can do the trick.

DIY washers game


Since playing washers may not be as familiar to everyone as bowling and golf, we thought we’d include some rules. There are lots of variations, but here’s a simple, fun way to play:

  1. Play with two people or two teams.
  2. Players take turns trying to toss the washers into the cup.
  3. A washer in the cup is worth five points. Washers in the bin are worth three. Washers touching the outside edge of the bin are worth two. The closest washer outside the bin is worth one. There are many methods of scoring. Make up your own or check out some of the variations online.
  4. The first person or team to get to 21 wins.


3. Campground Golf

Object of the game: Get the ball in the hole with the least amount of strokes.

What you’ll need:

  • Golf putter(s)
  • Your choice of balls. Tennis balls work great. Wiffle balls, too. Or you could go with traditional golf balls.
  • Drinking cup or other form of “hole” large enough to fit whatever balls you’re using
  • Found objects to create obstacles, e.g., sticks, rocks, camp gear, etc.

Golf putter, tennis balls and wiffle balls

Step 1: Set up the course

Use found objects or camp gear to create your own mini golf course. To make a “hole,” just lay your cup on its side. Set the course up however you want. The sky’s the limit (or maybe the edge of the campground).

DIY golf setup


Tennis balls are an excellent choice because you can find them more easily when they roll away. Plus, the bounce makes the game a little more challenging. Just be careful where you play so that you don’t stomp on the nearby plants.