Capture the Flag

This is an old game that sometimes needs the rules reiterated. I added the rules that I thought worked best and generated the least amount of arguments over cheating. This gets the participants running fast and, if you play it right, keeps them involved instead of sitting in the jail waiting for the last kids to do something.

Materials: pylons for boundary markers and to delineate the jail; two hula hoops to delineate the flag zone; at least 20 players to make it interesting; a large area to run in; two flags.

Object: Capture the other team’s flag and run back into your own territory without getting tagged.

Set-up: Mark the boundaries carefully so that all participants can plainly see what’s in-bounds and what’s out of bounds and where the center line is. Divide the field in half and clearly mark the mid-field area with plenty of pylons. If it’s not clearly marked, you will have a lot of arguments over who got tagged and who didn’t. A soccer field is a great place to play this, since they already have established a mid-field and a boundary. In one corner, delineate Team #1’s jail by one plyon.  In the diametrically opposite corner of the field should be the pylon that marks Team #2’s jail. Locate the flag zone somewhere between 10 and 20 feet off the back line on your side. This gives each invading team room to run behind the flag if they need.

How To Play: Choose teams evenly and divide them by “red” and “blue”. Place flags in center of hula hoop. No team member who is guarding a flag is allowed to set foot inside the hula hoop; they may only guard the perimeter. Make sure flag and hula hoop are plainly visible to the other team. Do not assign a flag guard. This slows the game down tremendously.

Teams line up at the midpoint. A whistle is blown to start the game. Anyone tagged on the opposing team’s territory is sent to the jail. While in jail, they must have one foot or hand on the pylon which may not be moved. As players are sent to jail, they form a chain of people attached to one another. The people sent to jail last have to be touching the pylon while the older prisoners are attached to the person attached to the pylon. This chain grows as the games progresses.

A jailbreak occurs when a “red” team-mate runs across the line into the “blue” team’s territory and tags anyone in the chain of prisoners before he gets tagged by a “blue” team member. In a jailbreak, only two prisoners may be released along with the person who freed them. Freed prisoners must walk out of bounds with their hands behind their head so they are easily identifed as getting a free walk back. Any freed prisoner without their hands behind their head goes back to jail attached to the pylon. Anyone pretending to be a freed prisoner is automaically put in jail.

Here are some basic rules:
-if you get tagged when you’re across the line in the other team’s territory, you go to jail.
-if you’re in jail, you must observe jail etiquette (see above)
-if you go out of bounds, you go to jail
-if you grab the flag, you may try to throw it to a team-mate
-once the flag crosses the mid-point in someone’s possession the game is over

Strategy:
-Keep your team-mates out of jail. It’s best when you have more free team-mates to over-run the other side at the end.
-Focus on taggin the other team first. The less people they have, the more advantage you have.
-Pretend that nobody is guarding the flag to draw the other team over so you can tag them.

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