Archive for the ‘Circle Games’ Category

Mushpot

When I was growing up, one of the consequences for losing in Duck, Duck, Goose was going to the Mushpot. Nobody likes to lose. But nobody ever died from going to the Mushpot. I always come across one extra-sensitive camper who gets overly-emotional about losing– even if the game was non-competitve or there were no real prizes. I thought about how to desensitize kids like this to give them a thicker skin and show them it’s OK to lose. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen, right? 

Play this game early on in the camp season to show campers that losing a game can actually be OK. 

In a culture where everybody gets a trophy just for participating we may have created a generation of entitled kids who won’t try too hard to get the payoff. Enough said. No more preaching. On with the game!

 

Object: To learn how to deal with the feelings associated with losing.

Materials: None.

Area: Half-volleyball court.

Set-up: Gather participants around in a circle. Choose one person to be in the middle (the “Mushpot”).

How To Play: On “go”, all campers on the circle look at the person in the middle and shout “mush! mush! mush!” while squashing the air in front of them, pretending to mash the camper in the middle into a fine pulp. The camper in the mushpot can pretend to feel the pain and do his/her best impression of a dying cockroach (“AAAAAaaaaaagggghhhhhEEEEEEEEeeeeeee!!!”).

After all campers have gotten mushed, sit them down in their circle and talk to them about how they felt being in the mushpot. Did they die? No. Was it uncomfortable? Maybe. Did they want to cry? Probably not. Focus on the fun they had when they were in the mushpot. Later, when camp is in full swing and you’re playing games in which people get out, you can send them out via the mushpot so they can leave with a smile on their face.

Variation: Use this game when you have to get your campers to group-up or line-up. Whoever is last to the group has to be in the mushpot.

Advertisements

Wind In the Willows

Ever trust a group of people to have your back? It’s a rare real-world experience that everyone should have. I read about this in a book called “Games”. That’s all I remember about it. At the time, I didn’t give this game much thought but now I see it’s value as a group-building and trust exercise with lots of potential. 

 

Object: To support the person in the middle without letting them fall. To trust that your group will support you and will be gentle about it.

Materials: None.

Area: Small. 7′ x 7′

Number of Participants: 8-12

Set-up: Choose one person to be the “willow”, standing in the middle of the circle. Have all other campers circle around in a very close and tight circle so that they are less than one arm’s length away from that person.

How To Play: Have the person in the middle (the “willow”) close their eyes, fold their arms across their chest and keep their legs stiff. Huddle everyone else around the willow within an arm’s length of them, making sure there are no gaps in their huddle. On “go”, the willow will fall in any direction while the circle catches them and pushes them gently around the circle or back and forth. Think of it as a reed swaying in a gentle wind. Pushes must be gentle and on pre-approved or “safe” body areas such as shoulders, back and arms only. Nobody should be touching the willow on their stomach or waist or head or chest. Take turns so that everyone gets to be a “willow”.

Praise Circle

It’s nice to feel wanted, loved, respected, admired and get a bunch of positive feedback heaped on you from a group of people, even if they are just acting. Here’s a way to make everyone in your circle feel special. Try using it as a game early on in your camp so that campers feel comfortable giving praise freely to others. This will work well in a group of 8 – 14 but it can get interesting in a large group of 50 or more. 

 

Object: To make someone feel special.

Materials: None.

Number of Participants: 8 – 14. Try larger groups too!

Area: Half-volleyball court

Set-up: Arrange campers in a circle, with one chosen person in the middle.

How to Play: On “go”, all campers in the circle say something nice about the person standing in the middle. The statements don’t have to be true but they do have to be positive. Examples are “You’re awesome!”, “Everyone likes you”, “I like your shirt”, “Your shoes are cool”, “I want to be just like you”, “Great job”, “Woo-hoo!”, “Way to go!”, etc.   Heap on the praise for about 10 – 20 seconds then have the person in the middle choose another camper to be in the middle. Of course, they need to choose someone who hasn’t been in the middle yet.

Variation: Use this frequently in camp for a special reward such as a replacement for prizes when someone wins a game.

 

Bedbugs

I’m sure this game already exists in some way and it is called something different but I dreamed this one up the other night when I realized I have a parachute and don’t really use it that much at camp.

 

Object: Get rid of all the bedbugs so you can go to sleep!

Materials: Parachute or large blanket/sheet. About 10 – 20 balls of different sizes.

Area: Half-volleyball court

Number of Participants: 10-16

Set-up: Choose two “bedbug masters” whose job it is to make sure the bedbugs stay on the bed. Everyone else is holding the parachute at equal distances around the edges, stretched out. Place all the balls (bedbugs) on the parachute.

How To Play: On “go”, the campers holding the parachute must shake all the balls (i.e. the bedbugs) off the parachute while the players not holding the parachute (bedbug masters) throw the balls back on it. When the parachute team has successfully shaken all the balls off, they call out “Get In Bed!” and they quickly  go under the parachute before any more bedbugs can be thrown on top of it. Play continues by rotating teams so that each camper gets a chance to be a bedbug master.

 

Yummy-Yum

Here’s a game for campers who like to act silly, say silly things and still have to get to know each other better. Try using this at the beginning of camp so your campers can see how crazy every other camper in their group can be. This game will help campers come out of their shy-shells and start to participate.

 

Object: To get shy campers communicating.

Materials: None.

Area: smaller than half-volleyball court

Number of Participants: 4 – 20

Set-up: Get participants in a circle, facing inward

How To Play: One person starts by saying in a rhythmic manner: “I ate a ______” (fill in the blank). The person to their left picks up the rhythm by saying “Yummy-Yum, I ate a ________” (fill in the blank, not repeating what anybody else has eaten). Play passes until the rhythm gets dropped or someone repeats what another has eaten. The participant that messes up will suffer a consequence (e.g. sit out of game, mush pot, start new rhythm). See explanations below for consequences. Basically, when you get a good rhythm going and everyone in the circle is prepared, it goes something like this: “I ate a rock”, “Yummy-Yum, I ate a pig”, “Yummy-Yum, I ate a toad”, “Yummy-Yum, I ate a chair”, “Yummy Yum, I ate a …..” etc. Play can continue until everyone gets bored or, if it is an elimination game, when one person is left.

Consequences: I don’t like games where people get “out” but there are times when it is called for. If the consequence is “sitting out” you might want to make it fun. For example, when a person gets out, maybe they can be dismissed to wash their hands for lunch/snack. If the consequence is “mush pot” the person stands in the middle of the circle while everyone else says “Mush! Mush! Mush!” while they make a squashing motion with their hands. After the person is “air-mushed” they are allowed back to the game. The consequence I like best is to let the person who messes up, start the new rhythm. Maybe after they’ve gone to the mush pot, they can come back to the circle and start the game up again.

Greyhound and Rabbit

And they’re off, folks. Round and round and round she goes. This offers all the excitement of greyhound racing without the side bets.

Object: Don’t be the person that ends up with both the rabbit and the greyhound.

Materials: Two distinctly different playground balls.

Area: Half volleyball court.

Number of Participants: 10 – 20.

Set-Up: Have all players sit in a circle, knee to knee. Give a ball to one of the players.

How To Play: On GO, the first ball (the bunny) gets passed around the circle clockwise. When it gets halfway around the circle, the second ball (the greyhound) is given to the same player who started with the first ball. They start off by passing the greyhound clockwise again, chasing the bunny, trying to catch up. In the meantime, the people with the bunny don’t want to get caught so they try to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Once they don’t have the bunny they want to pass the greyhound on quickly so as to catch the bunny. After the greyhound has made it clockwise around the circle one time, it may switch direction and go counter-clockwise. The person who has the bunny and is being handed the greyhound at the same time, is the loser. Depending on how you want to play, this person can be eliminated or can become the ball starter in the next round.

Cat and Mouse

Ah yes! That old game of cat and mouse. We know that the cat chases the mouse but we forget the fun part: the mouse tries to trap the cat. Here’s how you actually play it.

Object: The mouse tries to trap the cat before the cat catches him.

Materials: None.

Area: Half volleyball court.

Number of Participants: 10 – 20

Set-up: Choose on person to be the cat and one to be the mouse. Have everyone else stand in a cirlce about arms distance away from each other.

How To Play: On GO, the cat chases the mouse who must stay within the boundaries of the half volleyball court. They  may run in and out of the circle of people. As the mouse runs out of the circle, the players she/he ran between must hold hands, forming a closed space that the cat may not pass through. The mouse taunts the cat in and around the circle trying not to get tagged. If the mouse gets tagged, they are caught and the cat wins. If the mouse successfully traps the cat in the circle the mouse wins.