Archive for the ‘Initiatives’ Category

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

I attended a training given by PlayWorks this week. If you ever have a chance to go to a PlayWorks training, I highly recommend it. Check them out at They have an interactive website for games that is far superior to anything else I’ve seen. Just enter the number and age of participants, the type of game you are looking for and hit ‘enter’. It pops up a list of playground games to choose from. Easy!    The following game is from the PlayWorks training given by Kristina. Obvious Dr. Seuss reference. 


Object: Get the token back to the Island side of the court without getting caught.

Number of Participants: 10 – 30

Area: half volleyball court-size

Equipment: a token about the size of a tennis ball

How To Play: One person is chosen to be “it”, stands at one end of the court (Fishy Side) with the token on the floor at the line.  Everyone else stands at the other end of the court (Island Side), behind their line.  “It” turns her back to the other players and calls out “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”. During this time, the participants try to get to the token, take it and sneak it back to the other side of their Island base line. When “it” finishes reciting “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” she turns around. If she catches even one person moving, the entire group goes back to the their Island starting line. If she doesn’t catch anyone moving, play continues from that point, while she turns around again and calls out again “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”, and then turning around to try and catch people moving.

If the token gets nabbed the game is only half over. Players still must stop every time the chant ends, but “it” gets three guesses as to who is holding the token. If she guesses correctly, the token is returned to the Ocean starting point and all the participants must re-start from their Island side of the court. If “it” doesn’t guess who is holding the token, play continues as before (“it” turns around with her back to the participants, says “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”, and then turns back around to try and catch the token holder, again with three guesses.

Play ends when the Islanders have successfully nabbed the token and gotten it back to their Island.

Variation: This game can end pretty quickly if you don’t use this simple variation. Once the token has been nabbed but before it has made it back to the Island, it must be passed to at least ten people. This is what makes the game a cooperative initiative.


Tricky Triangle

Remember this wooden triangle mind puzzler game with fifteen holes and fourteen golf tees for markers? It has been re-purposed as a group initiative and makes for a very interesting challenge for a group of about 15 players.

I found this on a great website I want to recommend to everyone who works in teambuilding: This site is great for thousands of camp games, songs, campfire skits, stories and much more camp-related ideas.


Object: Get down to one player.

Materials: 15 poly spots or place markers arranged in a pyramid with 5 on the bottom.

Number of Participants: 15 – 20

Area: Half volleyball court

Set-Up: Arrange poly spots in a pyramid starting with 5 across the base. Keep spots about 2 – 3 feet apart from each other. Build into a perfect triangle of about 10′ -15′ per side.

How To Play: Once spots are arranged, have 15 players occupy all 15 spots. Give the team the following rules: 1) Choose one person to leave their spot and stand on the side to begin. 2) From that point on, the only movement may be done by “jumping”. 3) A legal “jump” is when one person leaves their spot, jumps past another occupied spot and lands on an open spot. 4) When a person gets “jumped” they vacate their spot. 5) Anyone may move as long as it is a legal jump to an open spot. 6) Play continues until no other moves can be made. 7) When there is only one payer left, the challenge has been met.

Notes: The group leader will need to referee to make sure only legal moves are being made. The group may become hot-headed and the leader will need to mediate. When the group cannot make a legal move and they have more than one player left over, the leader calls out to restart the game.

Dragon Race

Celebrate the year of the dragon every 12 years? No way! Here’s a relay race that is fun (and challenging) anytime.

Object: Be the first dragon across the finish line

Materials: None

Number of Participants: At least 8 per team, any number of teams can compete against each other.

Area: Basketball court size

Set-up: Establish starting line at one end of the course and a finish line at the other. Add obstacles as desired and depending on the age of participants. Line up all teams at starting line. Have people on each team stand a little less than arm’s distance behind the team member in front of them. Everyone crouches over and puts one hand (let’s say their left hand) between their legs, reaching out to the person behind them. The person behind them holds that hand with their right hand. We now have a train with a very fragile link.

How To Play: On “GO”, the teams move toward the finish line as fast as they can without breaking a link. First team across the finish line wins.

Adaptations: Depending on the agility and age of the participants as well as the purpose of this exercise, you can try one of two adaptations:

1) add obstacles
2) make it a relay whereby each team is split in half (half the team on the starting end and the other half at the other end) and have one person start by running down to the other end, connect “dragon-style” with the first person in line, move back to the starting area and pick up the next person “dragon-style”. Play continues going back and forth, linking up sections to the dragon until a complete dragon makes it down to the other end of the court.

Balloon Relay Race

This is a nice end to the Trilogy of balloon-oriented activities.


Object: Be the first team to move your balloons down to the opposite end of the field with all balloons popped and picked up.

Materials: As many inflated 9″ balloons as you can get (at least one per participant).

Set-up: Either hand out an equal number of balloons to each participant ahead of time or have them in bags at each team’s starting line.

Number of Participants: 20+ (works well with about 10 players on each team, so you could have multiple teams depending on the number of balloons and players.)

Area: Basketball court

How To Play: Teams line up on same end of field, behind the starting line. On “GO”, first player in each line takes a balloon, places it between their legs and either hops or runs down to the other end of the field (no fair using hands on the balloon), sits on their balloon to pop it, picks up the pieces and puts it in their trash can, then runs back and tags the next player in line to go. If the balloon should come loose, the player must stop and put it between their legs before they can continue in the race. Play ends when one team has popped all their balloons at the other end and picked up their trash.

Before a winner is declared, a count must be done as follows: Count the number of balloons that were successfully shuttled to the proper end of the court. Subtract one point for each piece of balloon trash found that wasn’t successfully placed in a trash can.

Variation: Rather than having one person run down with a balloon between their legs, have two people run down together with a balloon squished between them. No fair using hands. At the other end, the balloon must be popped by the two squishing up hard against each other. This won’t work well with smaller participants.



Hula Hoop Pass

Ever try one of those really frustrating group initiatives that take hours to get through? This is not one of them. Here is a low-level teambuilding exercise that will allow groups to feel successful before they try the tougher initiatives and get really frustrated.

Object: Pass the hula hoop to every person in the group without breaking the chain.

Materials: a hula hoop

Area: half volleyball court to half basketball court

Number of Participants: 10+

Set-Up: Have all participants stand in a circle holding hands. Put a hula hoop on one person’s arm before you close the circle.

How To Play: On “GO”, have participants pass the hula hoop to the neighbor on their right by stepping and ducking through it. Play continues until the hoop has gone around the circle once.

Variations: 1) Try passing it without letting it touch the ground. 2) Try to beat the clock or go for a personal best record. 3) Break large groups into two groups and have them race each other.

Line of Sight

This game will get people mixing without having to speak to each other or touch each other. Great for early mixing activities. Lots of bumping and path-crossing occurs during this game.


Object: Keep your Unknown between yourself and your Known.

Set-up: Circle up. Have participants look around and quietly identify one person in the group whom they know best (“Known”) and one person they know least (“Unknown”). By “best” we mean someone they’ve known the longest; by “least” we mean someone they’ve known for the shortest amount of time.

Materials: None.

Area: Half basketball court.

How to Play: On “GO”, campers try to line up so that the person they know least is between them and the person they know best.

Count Up

Getting groups to cooperate is best done in stages. Before doing a really tough initiative, test the waters with this to see if they can handle the frustration. When you see someone who has a harder time handling the frustration, it’s a great opportunity to work more closely with them.

Object: Count the members in the group.

Area: small room

Number of Participants: 12 – 20

Materials: None

How to Play: Starting from number “1”, the group will be counting up to the highest number which should equal the number of participants. Each person may only say a number once during the count. If two people talk at the same time, start over. You may not plan this and you may not signal other players while the game is going on.