Obstacle Courses

  by Erik Wolgemuth

There’s an oft forgotten rule when honing one’s dadcraft that can have a crippling effect on both you and your little people. It goes something like this:

When one plans a day of fun, adventure, and activities, there will invariably be hiccups, hurdles, and problems.

You will plan to go the pool…only to discover that the cherubic puff of a cloud you observed when departing your abode transformed (in the span of your traverse to said pool) into an irate cumulonimbus, spewing electricity with astonishing vigor.

You will plan to tuck in to some Chick-fil-A…only to discover that it’s Sunday.

You will plan to visit the local waterpark…only to discover that it’s $45 for parking, $65 per person, and the only card you can find in your wallet is of the library variety.

In each of these instances (and a host of others), where once you were the commander of a glorious day with adoring troops, you’re left with crushed excitement, no plans, and the need for something to do post haste. Good news, General: The simple obstacle course, a good measure of hype, and your best announcer voice can salvage the day.

The obstacle course is a versatile friend. It needs no purchase and requests no specific equipment. It works in a pinch – whether it’s needed to redirect the course of a canceled activity or as a quick, last minute go-to.

The gist of the obstacle course requires taking stock of your surroundings, determining the course (however absurd) and then sending your competitors off for timed efforts. Five or six obstacles typically make for the right length, and the best obstacles will be a combination of the nouns you can see with your vocabulary of creative verbs. For example:

  • Gallop around the picnic table.
  • Scratch three trees, then pet the grass.
  • Slither through the chairs.
  • Tickle one sibling and one parent.

Once the course is developed and communicated, your hype about the event is critical. The gravity in which each obstacle is described, the individual presentations of each competitor (often nationality, hometown, age, and other notable information make for good introductory material), and the crescendo of support as the competitor is reaching the home stretch will guarantee a successful course.

dadcraft Pro Tip: After you’ve designed the initial course, allow the second course creation to fall into young hands. And good luck when you run their course.


Postscript: Of course, sometimes some a little more low-key is preferable … movies, perhaps? Or maybe follow-up the athletics development with some STEM skills?

Photo by FreeImages.com/Anissa Thompson.