Did you know that there are a variety of free or low-cost things you can do in your own back yard this summer? Check out your garage or basement to find games or sports equipment you already have and then make a list of items you would like to purchase at the store or garage sales. The retail stores are receiving shipments of games like bocce ball, lawn darts, bean bag toss/corn hole, badminton, horseshoes and croquet; as well as whiffle ball, shuffleboard and frisbee/frisbee golf. Don’t let video games and electronics take over your child’s summer. You have the ability to impact them toward being involved in a variety of activities and helping them develop a love for games and being active.

What do backyard and family activities have to offer? According to Linda Houghland, Lyndsay Magenheimer and Ron Sansone, who are teachers at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, N.J., they promote:

• Camaraderie and fun

• Sportsmanship

• Social skills

• Physical activity while learning rules

• Independent learning

• Etiquette and self-officiating

• Outdoor play

• 100 percent participation/no

elimination

• Fitness components like cardiovascular fitness, hand-eye coordination and upper and lower body strength.

When was the last time your child(ren) saw the silly side of mom and dad? Great and lasting memories can be created when you choose to play with your child rather than watching them from the back porch or the sidelines. Join in and let them see you as a fun and crazy participant that they will remember forever. Many activities can be enjoyed in or near your home and backyard that will foster togetherness within the family unit. Do a jump rope contest, take a brisk walk in your neighborhood, ride bikes or play the games mentioned earlier. Maybe there is an activity your child is good at that you could allow them to teach you, such as hula hooping or playing freeze tag. Give them the opportunity to explain the rules, lead the activity and initiate the games they would like to play. Bocce ball is a great backyard game that you may not be familiar with. Purchase a set for your family and have the children read the rules and teach them to everyone. This fosters self-confidence and develops leadership abilities.

As we reflect back to our childhood years, our families had many activities we did on a regular basis at our homes or our grandparents’ homes. When we played whiffle ball, it took only a few minutes to set up the bases, establish rules and choose teams, resulting in hours of fun and enjoyment. Uncles would help with batting technique, rules and strategy. A lifelong love for softball and baseball can be traced to those times of backyard fun. Thinking about and participating in these simple activities today evokes strong memories of people, thoughts of pleasure and a desire to pass the love of activity on to the next generation.

Young and old alike should participate together at picnics, barbecues, outdoor parties, reunions, etc. Physical activities are meant to be enjoyed by all for a lifetime. Don’t let electronics rule your household. This summer, bring a blast from the past into the present and keep it there.

Elaine L. Brown and Dawn Jacobs are professors at Baptist Bible College and Seminary in South Abington Township.