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Flashback! Your heart is racing, you’re out of breath, your new back-to-school denim is grass stained and torn from sliding into the “safe zone”, a dangerous beam of light is fast approaching your motionless perch behind the oak tree, and you’re mentally mapping a mad dash to the nearest bush. This is no ordinary game of tag.

My memories of flashlight tag are of sweaty palms, occasional screaming,and mild panic attacks. There’s something about the moment when “It” has spotted you, caught you, illuminated your identity-revealing sweatshirt, and correctly called out your name that really gets the adrenaline pumping. The classic post dinner (and homework, as far as mom’s concerned) activity is no child’s play. It’s a darker, more daring version of hide-and-go-seek.

Flashlight tag
is simple in concept and has flexible rules. Essentially, it’s non-contact tag best played after sunset. While the classic game is enjoyable for all age groups, it’s also highly dangerous. Here are some tips for the ultimate gaming experience:

  1. Sneakers > flip-flops. Too much foot exposure is an accident waiting to happen. Also, it’s officially brisk after dark.
  2. Tie your shoes. Needs no explanation.
  3. Don’t slam into other players or “It”. Running across a dimly lit lawn at full speed significantly increases the risk of collision. Keep your head up.
  4. Make sure a first-aid kit is handy. Accidents happen.
  5. Designate an area near a restroom as home base/jail. Front stoops and back porches are wise selections. Otherwise, you’ll have to cease play intermittently for necessary bathroom breaks.
  6. Set boundaries. Some neighbors get nervous when strangers come sprinting through their property after dark.
  7. Wear layers. See #1. Expect rapid and drastic changes in body temperature as the game unfolds and intensity escalates.
  8. Be crafty. Trade your bulky sweater for a T-shirt and “It” will never guess your name.
  9. Replace the batteries. It’s not easy to play flashlight tag without a working flashlight.
  10. Play nice and have fun. Remember, it’s only a game. Breathe.

For a new spin on this old classic, check out this instructional video on how to create light sensitive badges that give flashlight tag a futuristic Laser Tag feel!