"Prepare to get wet!" Al Fresco Summer Games 'Water Olympics'
Everyone knows kids love water. Whilst Adults cower under umbrellas, it’s the kids who dance in the rain and throw themselves fearlessly into puddles that come up to their knees. Not to mention the memories that are made darting through sprinklers, catching rainbows on a hot summer’s day. The word ‘bath’ may strike fear into most children’s hearts, but when it comes to playtime, nothing beats the simplicity of water.
Here at Les Mediterrannees Summer Games, we are taking it back to basics, giving the kids what they want. Armed with a bucket full of water bombs, we make our way to our own Olympic stadium; The Beach. The children arrive already quivering with excitement, they talk over one another about past water fights, tell stories about being thrown into the sea by older siblings and ask 1001 questions about how wet, exactly, they are going to get, the general consensus being; the wetter the better.
Parents set up a safe viewing spot, close enough that they can watch the action but far enough away that they can remain relatively dry. The teams are chosen, boys versus girls. The first game is explained, a bucket full of water held over their heads as they walk quickly up and down the track.
“Easy!” They cry, “That’s way too easy!”
“Of course it is…” I laugh, “Maybe the second lap you can run?”
“Still way too easy!!”
I pass them the water buckets and begin the count down. Within two seconds the competitors are screaming out in glee, water falling from the bucket down the back of their necks and dripping down their faces.
“I change my mind!” one little boy shoats as he reaches the half way line, with his bucket nearly empty, “This is not easy at all!”
Despite the girls finishing considerably wetter in the first round, the boys take the victory with only seconds between them.
Round two means water balloons. The challenge: to pass the balloon from person to person, around the circle without the balloon exploding. Well… this is the challenge I present to them, the challenge they accept is quite different, to explode the balloon as dramatically as possible, as quickly as possible.
Their excited screams soon draw a curious crowd of spectators, who join the parents as they cry with laughter from their safe haven. The winner has to be 5 year old Maggie; her reaction, as her balloon detonates mid throw, knocks her off her feet. For a second, I think she may cry from the shock but she bounces up and laughs hysterically with the rest of her team.
The kids are truly excited now, as the next couple of games are explained to them they can’t stop moving, bouncing on the spot, eyeing up the remaining water balloons. They break off into spontaneous water fights, not bothered about winning or losing. The concentration on their faces as the throw lawn darts at a water balloon target is contagious. They carry on for over 10 minutes, so set on puncturing the balloon.
For the second to last round, an agreement is formed between the teams. Coming second in the race will result in being drenched in water by the winners. Hands are shook, and the teams get into the starting positions. The parents cheer as the relay begins, for the first few laps its head and head. Team mates scream their encouragement; unfortunately in the last few seconds the boys over take the girls. The boys are handed buckets of water, and I join the girls, hand in hand to accept our fate. Cold water is soon being tipped over our heads, hair clings to our faces and we can taste the salt on our lips but we come up laughing.
Finally we reach the last game. Everyone stands in a circle with their backs turned, a water balloon clutched in their hands. Rules are explained; on the count of three everyone turns at once and throws their water bombs, if any remain, then they can be thrown again. The children are silent for the first time in an hour.
The kids spin round and chuck the balloons as hard as they can, of course, only half explode. The remaining ones are soon scooped up and re launched. The kids fall about laughing as the balloons burst one by one.
We have reached the end. After an hour of water games, I am exhausted. The kids however, groan and beg for more. With their parent’s permission they race down to the sea and throw themselves in with screams of laughter, thus completing the Al Fresco Summer Games ‘Water Olympics’.