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Snowball fights! The original winter war game.
Everyone from children to adults can engage in a jolly dance of dodging compact spheres packed with wet snow.
No matter who’s involved in the game, it’s important to remind all players and yourself that snowball fights are just that: a game.
It’s a good way of ensuring no enduring hard feelings, but a fun, cathartic way to let out a little energy.
Snowball fights encourage some strategic thinking and friendly competition.
We’ve put together a simple guide to snowball fight safety to help you make sure everyone stays safe and has a good time.
Make Fair Teams
We’re going to approach this fairly. Snowball fights are more fun and engaging when there are at least four players.
The bigger the teams, the more you can incorporate things like tournaments. Make sure the players are divided fairly, with equal skill and desire to win on each side.
Set The Stage
You can only make snowballs with the right kind of snow: the wet, freshly fallen kind.
Since you can make snowballs, you may as well build some other things before the game, like a fort!
What is a war without base camps and fortresses? Have each side build up their defence. You can keep this under control by setting a time limit.
For example, each team has half an hour to build their fort before the game begins. It’s important that each player has something to hide behind.
A quick and surefire way to build a fort is simply by rolling very large snowballs (like a snowman) and lining them up like a wall. You don’t need anything fancy like windows: just a short wall that provides some shelter from oncoming attacks.
Incentivize Players With Hot Cocoa And Marshmallows
Try to set up some kind of prize or reward for the winning time. This will provide incentive to perform their best.
For example, the winning team gets marshmallows on top of their hot chocolate. Or maybe the losing team has to shovel the driveway.
This is a great way to trick kids into using pent-up energy, and then getting them to help with chores.
Pre-make The Snowballs
Now that the forts are built, give each team another amount of time to build some snowballs. It’s important to have a stock of ammunition before getting into the game, obviously.
However, by pre-make them, we don’t mean make 50 snowballs and freeze them in your freezer, because then people are going to be getting whacked with snow as hard as rocks and it’s going to cause some damage.
You can, however, make the snowballs outside with some relatively good packing snow (don’t pack em too hard) and then store them somewhere outside.
Preferably each team should have their own stash, and an equal amount of snowballs. If there is a common area for snowballs, chaos might erupt as everyone will hang around the giant pile, and not only will the snowballs get destroyed, but it will just be a melee of kids / adults hanging around the “ammo” pile and not wanting to leave.
Play By The Rules
Make sure everyone is on the same page before the game begins. Have some rules that everyone must follow.
You can set physical boundaries, such as a perimeter for the fight space, or a middle dividing line that each time must stay behind. No one wants to take a snowball to the face from a foot away.
Tell the participants that snowballs can only be made of snow: no sneakily adding twigs or sand in there.
The size of snowballs can also be made into a rule, if you think the participants will be that devious.
While it’s nice to think that a snowball fight is just a fun game, it can get rather violent, and out of hand quickly, if someone’s not supervising.
Remember to watch out for that one neighbourhood kid with the demonic glean in his or her eye. The one kid who has a reputation for beating up the other kids, or generally not playing by the rules.
If you know, or at least think, that most of the kids playing the game, are nice kids and aren’t out to hurt each other, things can change quickly when the “problem child” gets into the game, and immediately starts making the game into a real battle where everyone goes home crying, and full of anger.
Try Setting A Time Limit
Maybe it’s best if you have a referee who can set a limit for the amount of time each player can hide. You don’t want someone hiding out the whole time! Be sure that everyone enlisted is fully into throwing and receiving snowballs.
You should also set a time limit to the snowball fight itself. Setting a time limit to the game will not only encourage players to perform their best, but also give them comfort in knowing that if they are losing, it will all be over soon.
However, someone may need to stop or forfeit before the time is up, so have everyone decide on a safe word. The safe word can be used when a player is in trouble and needs a break.
Scope out the skills of each person on the teams. Maybe it’s best if one or two people are on offence, while another remains stationed to build snowballs and fix the fort if need be.
And The Winner Is…
Lastly, decide on the winning factor. How will you choose a winner?
It can be like a dodgeball game, where each person to get hit has to leave the battlefield, until there is one person left (and this team wins).
Or, stick flags into the forts and the goal can be to catch the other team’s flag. In this instance, a time limit may not be necessary.
One more thing to consider is the weather. While packing snow may be available on more mild days, it is still cold out when there is snow on the ground, so it’s necessary to make sure everyone keeps warm.
After running around kids may be tempted to remove their jackets or mitts; make sure everyone keeps their mittens on to prevent frostbite.
Kids tend to ignore the signs of a dangerous chill, so it’s important that everyone is aware of the dangers of hypothermia. After the game, take everyone inside for some hot chocolate and a warm meal.
And most importantly: have fun!