Archive for the ‘Getting To Know You 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.

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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.

Magic Wish Bean Bag Toss

This is a simple game for the very young elementary school age camper. It’s a basic bean bag toss with rules that make it a creative exercise more than a physically challenging test of skill. If you don’t have the equipment, substitute trash for the bean bags and other targets for the hoops and buckets.

This game helps campers who might have a hard time listening to instructions. It also can help staff identify those campers early on.

 

Equipment: Beanbags (if you don’t have beanbags, a crumpled up piece of paper will do fine), hula hoops, buckets.

Area: Basketball court or an area long enough to accommodate all the kids in the group standing on one line. For 20 kids, you might need 50 feet.

Number of Participants: Any

Set-up: Arrange hoops and buckets or any other targets on one side of the line about 10 feet away. If campers are 8 or older, you can make this farther away. If they are under age 6, targets should be closer. Hand out one bean bag to each camper. Whatever beanbag they get is the one they get because what makes the bean bag magic is that “the magic bean bag chooses the camper”. This way, you don’t have fights over someone not getting the pretty blue beanbag that they wanted so badly.

How To Play: Line up campers on a line. Campers hold their beanbags and toss them all at the same time, on the count of 3. If a camper makes it in the target area, they get a magic wish. The magic wish only comes true if all the  following conditions are met:  a) campers all throw their beanbags at the same time,  2) no camper crosses the line to retrieve their magic beanbag until the “all clear” whistle is blown,  3) each camper retrieves their own magic bean bag, nobody else’s, and gets back behind the line. Campers keep track of the number of magic wishes they get. Downplay the role of “who got the most” wishes. Point out anybody who has not crossed the line before the whistle was blown or who threw their beanbag right on time. Let campers know you will try and trick them to crossing the line so they learn to listen.

Variation: Try this game in a big circle with one target in the middle. Instead of tallying wishes individually, make it a group effort.

 

 

 

Lizard’s Tail or Lizard Tag

Did you know that when lizards lose their tails they can grow a new one? Of course you did. But losing your tail in this game will get you eliminated.

 

Object: Be the last “lizard” with a “tail”.

Materials: clothespins or some material you can hang out of the back of your pants as a “tail”.

Area: Basketball court for a large group; half volleyball court for smaller groups.

Number of Participants: 10 – 60. Maybe more if space allows.

Set-Up: Have participants pair up with a partner, standing one person in front of the other as if they were in a line, person in back places their hands on the hips of the person in front. Person in the rear wears the clothespin “tail” on the middle of their shirt tail. If clothespins aren’t being used, strips of material should be hung out the back of their pants so that it hangs down about 12″.

How To Play: On GO, players try to eliminate other teams by pulling off their tail. The person in the front is the “tail puller” while the person in the rear must keep both their hands on their forward partner’s hips. If hands come off, they are eliminated. The one team that has stayed together (hands on hips, tail intact) is the winner.