How to Host an Obstacle Course Fundraiser
We recently held a Monster Bash Obstacle Course race at my kids’ school to raise money for academics and get kids excited about fitness. Several of you have asked me how to set up an obstacle course for your own children’s schools, so here’s how to do it.
How To Set Up a Children’s Obstacle Course (without spending a dime)
Mission: Save our kids’ brains by fundraising for their school and establish an escape path over obstacles so zombies will not eat their brains.
- Work with local business leaders to sponsor each obstacle at a rate of $500. This is good for the school because you get up-front money before the carnival even starts. Also, this money is not to offset costs, but is 100% dedicated towards academics.
- Create different level sponsorships. Not everyone can afford to donate $500 and some businesses can donate even more money if they are inspired by your cause. Make a range of options so everyone can give at a level they feel good about.
- Establish win-win situations. Corporate sponsors get their logo on a sign in front of the school for two months, as well as their marketing materials given out to all students and carnival goers. Make sure you let your parent population that these are the local businesses who support your children’s school, so please support their business!
Obstacle Course Overview:
- The focus is on fun, safe fitness. Obstacles include things the kids can climb over, under, around and through using different planes of motion.
- Pre-K through 2nd Grade –
Students just focus on getting through the Halloween-themed obstacles. We encouraged parents and older siblings to run with those children who needed a little extra help.
- 3rd Grade – 5th Grade – Insert monsters. It’s the same obstacle course, only monsters are trying to tag the older kids. If tagged, the child has to do 5 jumping jacks as a penalty. From a fitness standpoint monsters are great because they add an element of fear which give rise to explosive plyometric movements to escape “danger”. From a practical sense the jumping jacks slow down the runners so they are not bumping into each other.
- Pumpkin Patch Walk Around – sponsored by Austin Diagnostic Clinic. Pick up a plastic pumpkin, walk around a cone and put the pumpkin back at start line. For a more challenging obstacle, add weight to the pumpkin.
- Tip Toe Past the Scarecrow – sponsored by Pfennig Animal Hospital. Walk through the agility ladders. For a bigger challenge hop on one foot.
- Ghost Zoom – sponsored by Zaarly. Sit on a 4 wheeled scooter and weave in and out of bowling pins. Some children will want to hold onto scooter with hands and push the scooter around, just make sure they hold the handles. Also, this method goes faster and the kids have less control over it.
- Rope Climbs – sponsored by Kona Ice. Climb a regular rope or knotted rope. This is too hard for some kids, so just let them attempt it and move on. Other kids are little ninja warriors and will try to climb to the ceiling, so stop them midway for safety precautions. Also, we had two helpers and mats underneath the ropes.
- Escape the Spider Web – sponsored by Pflugerville Signs. Wrap yarn around three sturdy objects to make a “spider web” that kids can climb under or through.
- Frankenstein Tire Flips – sponsored by Precision Tune Auto Care. Flip the tires from a mat to a wall and back. If this is too hard for the little kids, we let them roll it.
- Drag a Bag of Bones – sponsored by Pflugerville Wellness (chiropractors). We filled a mesh bag with skeleton bones and two weighted bowling pins that blended in with the bones. Kids dragged it around a cone and back.
- Li’l Monster Roll – sponsored by Eye Level Learning. Kids do a somersault down a cheese mat. Some kids were afraid of this, so we let them roll on their bellies or slide on their bottoms. Make sure you put a responsible volunteer here for safety reasons.
- Escape Witch Mountain Rock Wall – sponsored by ShesLosingIt.com. Our gym has a rock wall in the corner. Kids who were good at this scaled the wall from one side to the other. Some kids got stuck, so we said they could just climb straight up and an adult helped them get down.
Time & Materials & Budget:
- Budget: We had a budget of nothing (this is public school) so we had to get creative. By using what we already had and getting creative with the decorations we spent $ZERO$ on setting up the obstacle course. 100% of the money from the corporate sponsors when towards our academic wish list items for the school.
- Start with your PE teachers.
Coach Cox showed me all the fitness equipment he already had and mentioned which obstacles were already a hit with the kids during Field Day.
- Social media is your friend. We looked through Pinterest to get some ideas for how to decorate obstacles within a theme and after we had corporate sponsors sign on we asked for their input to include elements of their business with the specific obstacle. For example, Precision Tune Auto Care sponsored the tire flip.
- Ask the Experts. Decorating is beyond my skillset, so I asked one of the moms, Jeni Rahmam, who was known for throwing great birthday parties to help set everything up. We used Halloween decorations we already had at home and asked the art teacher to give us the best student artwork we could hang on the walls. Jeni said that grouping everything would make it look more pulled together, so we started with the sponsorship sign as the focal point and decorated around it. The kids loved seeing their own artwork as they zoomed through the obstacles.
- Time: I won’t count the time spent at PTO meetings to talk about potential sponsors. The actual time to set up the obstacle course in the gym was four hours, and it was set up by us two moms and Coach Cox. It would have been sooner but all the kids of the PTO moms kept trying to run through the course before we finished setting everything up. Taking the obstacle course down was really fast, like an hour. There were three moms and two kids helping.
- Test Drive: We set up the obstacle course the night before the carnival and had our kids do a test run of the course so we could see where there would be traffic flow problems and adjust the course accordingly. We also discovered which obstacles needed more supervision and which ones needed modification for younger kids. I highly recommend doing this step.
The Actual Obstacle Course Video
Details like Traffic Flow & Safety:
- We had 9 obstacles and it was spaced nicely in the gym. We had extra room for the table with the victory bags for each participant. Don’t put too many obstacles in there because the kids will trip over each other.
- We had 11 safety volunteers for the course
- Explain Traffic Lanes and What to Expect. The Greeter explains, “You’re #1 and you’re #2. You will be #1 and #2 throughout the race. Stay in your number’s lane.”
- Put directional arrows between obstacles so the kids know where they are supposed to go next.
- Timing. Wait until the first kids get to obstacle 4 before you start the next two so they aren’t tripping over each other.
- Parents Can Play Too! Encourage parents to run with/help their kids through the obstacles, plus they’ll have fun too!
- No food or loose items. Some kids were sucking on lollipops, make sure they spit them out before running.
- Liability Release. Each school has their own policy about these things, so run it past your school administrator about this.
There you have it! This was a huge success at our school because everyone won. The corporate sponsors got good publicity, the kids got to exercise in a fun way, the PTO was happy because it cost nothing to put on, and the kids won again because 100% of the money raised went towards academics. Shoot, even the volunteers had fun dressing up like monsters and chasing people. Hope you have fun with it too!
And hey, why should the kids have all the fun? If you like Spartan Races, click here for 10% off your next race:
Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two.
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