Wet & Wild Human Bowling

14 December 2007 — Leave a comment

This is definitely a summer game for outside but a firm favourite with the young people round here! We’ve used the Wet & Wild Human Bowling game every year as part of our big summer festival and even those who’ve done it many times still come back for more.

Suitable for: most ages and abilities (as long as safety issues are thought through)

Equipment needed:

  • A length of tarpaulin or plastic sheeting (10 metres is probably minimum)
  • plenty of water (preferably via a hosepipe)
  • 10 or more 2-litre plastic drinks bottles
  • Washing up liquid or other product to make the plastic slippery
  • cushions, padding or crash mat to put under the start of the tarpaulin
  • Swimming costumes/suitable clothing and towels

Essentially it’s a ‘slip n slide’ where people throw themselves along a length of wet tarpaulin on the ground in order to knock down the skittles/pins. It works just like a bowling alley with points awarded for the number of pins knocked down. Individuals can take it in turns to have a go, or you could pair them up for a doubles attempt!

Lay out your tarp on a flat piece of grass, allowing enough space each end for a run up. Place the padding under the tarp at the beginning where people will dive. At a suitable point along the tarp (around 7 metres) mark out where the pins should stand and place the bottles there (put some water in the bottom to balance). Spread the washing up liquid across the surface and spray with plenty of water. Start the competition!

Safety First: There are various safety concerns with this game, so please think them through in advance. The two main issues that could arise are:

  1. Injury when diving onto the ground at the start of the tarpaulin. This can be addressed by putting some form of padding or crash mat under the tarp so they land on something soft or by using an inflatable to slide on.
  2. Getting soap in eyes from, or allergies to, the washing up liquid used to make the tarp slippery. Either provide goggles for each person or find an alternative way of making it slippery.

When played safely, this game is a guaranteed fun for everyone. Even the parents will want to play!


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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

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