One of the things we have done in our family for a number of years is a road rally. This is where you get a group of people together and put them in separate cars. Then, each car has to follow a set of directions to get to the finish (it is a surprise to them where the finish is). Along the way they must do things like count the number of mailboxes, write the name of a school, etc. The goal is NOT to get to the finish the fastest, but to get to the finish with the closest time to what the race organizers did when they went through the Rally following all traffic laws and directions.
Road Rally’s are a great way to teach about choice and accountability, choosing the right, or making wise choices. Plus, they are a lot of fun for everyone in the car.
To organize the Rally:
1. Decide on your route, making sure to keep it within the time you want to spend doing the rally. (We have done some that lasted several hours and included eating dinner or dessert at a restaurant — paid in advance and others that just lasted an hour.)
2. Drive the route with someone else, so you can take notes. With a road rally you rarely give directions the normal way, instead you count other objects such as:
- Light poles
- Street signs
- Signs entering a new city or location
- Bus Stops
3. Also take note of things you see along the way that you can ask questions about so the cars know they are going the right way. (Number of swings on a swing-set, the name of a neighborhood or apartment complex, etc.)
4. Once you get home, make a list of either/or facts, and another list of number facts. For example, If you are doing a Patriotic Rally, you could write down that there were 13 original colonies, 27 amendments to the constitution, 50 states, and 14 US territories. You could also write down words for pledge of allegiance, that Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner, and that Washington DC was created from Virginia and Maryland. Make sure the questions are slightly difficult, but could be answered by participants in the road rally. I have used religious themes several times for these, so I ask the participants to bring scriptures so they can look up the answers to the questions.
5. Now it is time to plug in your questions to the Road Rally directions and notes you had. For example, if you counted 27 mailboxes on the right side of the road before they needed to turn you could say, “Count the same number of mailboxes as there are amendments to the constitution and then turn right”. At another turn you could say, “When you get to the next stop light turn right if DC was created from California and Oregon, but left if it was created from Virginia and Maryland”. Sometimes I divide the directions into two sets, and the participants must pick up the second set of directions at some middle location (someone’s house, a store, etc.) People are generally willing to help.
6. Go with someone else who has not been on the road rally before to go through this one last time and time it. You drive, so you don’t make any wrong turns and can perfectly obey the speed limit, but use the second person to test it out and make sure you didn’t mix up any directions, and that things you counted the first time are still there. Make sure you drive this at the same time of day that the participants are going to go on the rally so that you take traffic and light into consideration (it is more difficult to count mailboxes in the dark, but you might see an extra lamp that you didn’t count at noon when you scouted out the route the first time).
7. When everyone meets for the rally, divide them into cars. Generally 4 people per car are a good number to get everything going. Everyone should participate with that number.Give them an emergency sealed envelope with information to reach you if they get lost along the way.
8. At 5-10 minute intervals (depending on how long this is) let each car leave. You don’t want the cars to see one another as they are going through the rally. At the top of their directions, write the time that they leave the location.
9. Go to the end of the rally and wait for them to arrive. When they do, write down the time that they arrived and calculate how close it was to the “official” time you calculated. They generally loose a point for every minute that they are off from the official time (early or late). They also loose a number of points if they called you for help along the way.
10. Declare a winning car and debrief with all participants. What did they learn from this experience? What parts were hard and which were easy? We generally have some sort of activity waiting at the end (playing, games, or food at a park, in a clubhouse, at the church, etc.)
Here are some sample directions for Road Rally’s