Summer is a great time of year especially if you love the outdoors. It always seems that some of my funnest and funniest memories are outside camping, hiking, watching sporting events and of course playing games with family and friends. I have found that even as I grow older some of those great backyard games I used to love have not lost their luster; actually I am just quite a bit more accurate now or I don't have to stand 5 feet in front of everyone else! One thing that I love about all of these outddor games is that they are really portable and you can take them anywhere. Here are my top four suggestions for outdoor Summer games plus a few more at the end for good measure!

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    Washers Game

    Washers steals the number four position on the list for its addictive game play that at times can lead to pure frustration while still being fun. Washers consists of two washer pits with a cup inside of them 4″ in diameter that players are trying to toss their washers into, placed 25' apart. This is quite the challenge. For me it seems that I either do amazingly well or can't even come close to the pit! A player or team wins when they get to 11 points; points are awarded for landing washers either in the pit (1 Point) or in the cup (5 points). Overall this is a great game and the kids will love it as well.

    (Photo via Amazon.com)
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    Croquet

    Croquet is a classic and I couldn't help but put it on the list at number three. This game always brings back good memories of growing up out in the backyard each summer. There is nothing more satisfying than smacking your opponents ball across the grass into outer space; just don't smack your foot and for gosh sakes don't play in heels like the lady in the picture here! Croquet might be old but that doesn't mean it isn't a bit less fun than old times. I am sure about everyone reading this knows how to play the classic game so I'm not going into detail here, but there is a link to the rules below if you need a refresher. I don't think croquet will ever die, and feel free to switch it up a bit. You know throw a wicket or two right behind a rock with a 2″ gap or on a tree root and laugh at the frustrations of everyone!

    (jronaldlee via Flickr)
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    Bocce Ball

    I remember the first time I played Bocce Ball was actually at a restaurant where they had the game set up, which is actually a really good way to make people forget they are waiting for a table or their food! Bocce Ball is very simple but it can also get very competitive and fun at the same time, so it takes the number two spot on my list. Bocce Ball is played with 8 large balls that are very heavy and one smaller ball that looks like a cue ball from pool called a pallino. The game works like this. One person starts off at random and tosses the pallino out in an open grassy space. Then each player, starting with the player that threw the Pallino, throws their Bocce Balls towards the Pallino trying to get their balls closest. When one individual or team scores 13 points they win. Points are scored by getting your Bocce Balls closer to the Pallino than your opponent(s). I highly recommend this game and it is very easy to transport about anywhere. I picked up my Sportscraft version from Target for about $40 and it has served me well.

    (Photo By Adam Porter)
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    Ladder Golf

    Also Called Blongo Ball

    Ladder Golf, also called Blongo Ball, takes the number one position on my list for numerous reasons. Overall the game is a whole lot of fun for adults (This one may be a little tough for the little ones) and can be taken anywhere. The beauty here is that sets are typically made of PVC like materials that easily break down. If you would like to build your own set they are very easy to assemble, and I have provided a link to instructions below. If you do make your own game make sure you buy PVC pipe with thick sidewalls so the game is as sturdy as possible. You will also want to buy all your T and L PVC joints at a big hardware store like Home Depot or Lowes because they are much cheaper to buy in bulk. Aside from that, the game is easy to understand so everyone catches on quick. The object is to earn 21 points to win and these points can be earned by wrapping your bolas around the rungs on the PVC ladders. A bola on the top rung earns you 1 point, on the middle rung earns you 2 points, and on the bottom rung earns you 3 points. The game can also be played in teams which is a good time. There are a few more little rules but that's the basic gist. If your looking for a great game on the cheap Ladder Golf is it!

    (Navets via Flickr)
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    Other Great Outdoor Backyard Games

    That about polishes off the list of what I deem to be some of the best outdoor games made, but of course there are many more that I enjoy. Check out some others in the links below and have fun. Drag your kids out from behind the TV and make them go outside and play!