On Thursday, September 8 around 4:00 p.m., I was one of the 3.5 to 5 million people (depending on your source) impacted by the blackout in southern California. Despite the minor inconvenience of no fans in 95-degree weather, my dog and I fared pretty well by spending the evening at our neighbor’s house, who happened to have a generator hooked up to the television for the opening night of NFL football.
The next day I read accounts of how others spent their forced ‘unplugged’ time. Most folks spent their evening with neighbors, both those they knew previously and some they met for the first time that night. Overall, the blackout actually brought people closer together and forged a strong sense of community. I have composed the following list of things to do during a blackout based on both my own ideas and the accounts I have heard or read.
*especially great in extreme heat
- squirt gun fight*
- sidewalk chalk
- football or Wiffle ball
- tag tournament
- grill out
- eat ice cream* – You don’t want that to go to waste!
- pool party*
- visit a neighborhood park
- take a walk – an exploration walk
- fly a kite
- jump rope competition
- glow sticks
- board games by candlelight
- card tournament by candlelight (Go Fish, Uno)
- fire pit – roasting marshmallows optional
- storytelling around the fire
- take a walk with flashlights
- catch (and release) fireflies
- camp out in the backyard
I like baseball, not only the game, but the culture of the sport. I cannot think of any other sport where opposing teams join together to sing a song other than the national anthem. Whether it is a backyard game with the neighborhood or watching a favorite major league team at the stadium, baseball represents an experience of connecting with family, friends and even strangers.
My earliest baseball memory from five years of age included a line drive into my shoulder. It was a short game! I recovered to play another game, but with Wiffle balls. My neighborhood friends and all of our dads would block off the street dividing our houses and set up bases in various yards. We wouldn’t really keep score and just kept playing until one of the dads had to go help with housework or it was time to eat.
It was just as much fun watching our local triple-A minor league team play. Not necessarily because they were good, but because it was an opportunity to spend time together as a family – not to mention the eating, singing and traditions of the sport. I loved the ice cream served in a helmet, the obnoxious bell (Columbus Clippers ring your bell!), and the anticipation of maybe, just maybe catching a foul ball in my glove.
Here are some ideas for the baseball lovers in your family!
Itinerary: San Diego, California
Check out the Padres at Petco Park in downtown San Diego. Make a reservation to tour the stadium before the game. Then, visit the Park at the Park to play your own game of Wiffle ball. Keep the stats during the game, or play a friendly game of baseball bingo (see below). If you are inspired by your baseball experience, try one of the activities below.
1. Baseball Bingo: Find some scrap paper and use a ruler to divide the paper into nine equal boxes. Using the list below (or create your own), add one potential play to each box. Note that some baseball plays are more likely to occur than others. Decide as a family, how difficult you want the game to be. You can organize the list by difficulty and require every person to include at least one difficult play on their bingo card. To maximize your use of the Bingo cards, laminate them. Once the game starts, use a dry-erase marker to check off each play that you have on your card. If you get three in a row, shout BINGO!
Potential baseball plays:
- Strike out
- Strike out looking
- Single (hit)
- Double (hit)
- Triple (hit)
- Stolen base
- Double play
- Triple play
- Pop fly out
- Diving catch
- Out at first
- Out at second
- Out at third
- Out at home
- 7th inning stretch (free space)
2. Family Trading Cards: Each family member can create their own trading card. Include some of the following stats on the back:
- photograph or self-portrait
- personal mascot
- favorite stadium food
- warm-up song
- baseball position (spectator, referee, heckler, vendor and coach all count)
- favorite baseball movie
- favorite traditions (the wave, a rally icon, etc.).