Balmy days at the beach bring out the best (competitive edge) in everyone.
man playing paddle ball on beach
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Fair-weather staples like horseshoes and volleyball, bocce and croquet are tried-and-true proof that a little competition never brings families and friends anything but closer. But a little variety never hurt anyone, so here are a few more ways to amp your at-the-lake repertoire of fun.

Beach/Yard Paddleball. No net or court needed. Sets sold at outdoor stores include a pair of oversized paddles and one-inch hollow rubber balls. Keeping that little ball moving from player to player without hitting the sand is great fun and a surprisingly good workout.

Sand Stones. Think modified darts and skee-ball: Collect a stash of shoreline stones and draw a big circle in the sand with smaller concentric circles inside. Step back as near or far as you want the challenge of tossing stones on the bulls-eye to be, then add points to each ring and tally up the top score.

Scavenger Hunt. Hand-held GPS receivers guiding players to cleverly hidden capsules containing prizes and more clues may star today as the tech-savvy descendant of old-fashioned treasure-seeking (, but an old-fashioned scavenger hunt is a great way to spend time outdoors together and rediscover favorite summer surf and turf.

Create a list of clues tapped from memories and tradition, surrounding nature and family-known landmarks that set everyone off to find items both placed and found.

An old-fashioned scavenger hunt is a great way to rediscover summer turf.

Flick’n’Sticks. Geared toward teens and adults, this new beach trend is becoming a fast favorite. You’ll need four bamboo poles, four plastic cups, four players and one Frisbee. Place a pair of poles, each capped by a cup, and teams of two 15-20 feet apart on the beach.

Each team takes a turn trying to knock their opponents’ cups off the poles: One point for knocking off a cup if the Frisbee gets caught; three points if the cup goes flying sans hands on the other side. Catch it in action at

Fill the Bucket. This high-speed contest is a simple recipe for shoreline fun (and creating an outlet for the most energetic of cottage-goers!). Form two or more teams. Place a large bucket for each team in the sand a distance away from the water. Give each team a much smaller pail.

When the whistle blows, team members take turns running to the shore, filling up their small pail and running back to pour it into their team’s big bucket. First team to fill their bucket wins.

kids on scavenger hunt
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Can Ball. Yarn’s the only software needed for this deceptively challenging game.

Suspend open-topped containers of various sizes (i.e., coffee tin, soup can, sand pail) from a crossbar (or long, stable branch) and try tossing yarn balls into them.

Sounds easy ’till you try it — but it’s all in fun.

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