Archive for the ‘Line-up/Group-up Games’ Category


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.


Rock, Paper, Scissors, Slide

Ever find yourself begging for mercy at the end of a Rock, Paper, Scissors bout? Cynthia Bailey from Culver City’s “Just 4 Kids” camp showed us this game at a recent training. At first, players thought, “Oh Brother!”. Once people started losing, those sentiments turned into an anguished “Oh no!”  The neat thing about this game is that you might win 3 in a row but the other person only needs to win at the right time to win it all.


Object: Be the last in the pair standing.

Number of Participants: 2

Area: small

Set-up: Have players stand toe to toe, left foot toe touching left foot toe. Now have players put their own right foot toe up against their own left foot heel.

How To Play: Players engage in a series of games of Rock, Paper, Scissors. The winner will take their front foot and place it behind their back foot, toe against heel. The loser must slide their front foot forward until their toe is touching the toe of their opponent. Play continues until one person falls over or gives up.

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.

Zipper Line-up

Get your campers to form a pole-to-pole line up nice and zippy with this game. This line-up game is a nice transition into pole-to-pole relay type of races such as “Running With Scissors”. 


Object: Line up in two lines pole-to-pole
(Looks like this:  OOOOOOO       OOOOOOO)

Set-up: Ask your campers to find one partner and line up on a straight line facing each other. Looks like this:      OOOOOOO

Number of Participants: Any

Area: a long line

How To Play: On “ZIP”, the leader walks between the two lines. As the leader walks between the lines, the camper-partners split up like a zipper. The first partners to be unzipped will go to the far end of the area, ending up being the last in a line. The last to be unzipped simply take one step backward. You should end up ready for a face to face relay or contest such as “Running With Scissors”.

Balloon Inflate Race

Play this game when you need a bunch of balloons inflated and then bagged. Transition into Balloon Foosball or Balloon Relay Race or more. 


Object: Blow up a specified number of balloons in the amount of time given.

Materials: Enough for each person to have ten balloons.

Set-up: Hand out uninflated 9″ balloons to all participants. Divide group into two teams. Line up facing each other.

Area: Half volleyball court.

How To Play: Players have 5 minutes to blow up balloons. When they blow up a balloon, they need to run it down the line to the person on the end whose job it is to count their team balloons. It gets tricky with people running to and from their places so the counters will need to act more like impartial referees.

Snail Round-up

Here’s a way to get a large group gathered in a tight, organized group that’s ready to listen.


Object: To get your campers used to being close together in a way that makes it easy to listen to instructions.

Materials: None

Number of Participants: 8+ (Works well with up to 50).

How To Play: Tell the entire group to fall in behind you in a single file line as you walk. When everyone has gotten in line behind you, start to make a big circle about the room. As you come close to the last person in the line, make sure you lead the line inside that circle so you can get a tighter and tighter group. As the leader, you want to end up in the middle with the entire group wrapped around you, like a snail’s shell. At this point, you can give clear directions to your next activity without needing to yell.

Name Line-up

Here’s a quick game to add to your list when you need your campers to get to know each other. It’s a great game for early on in camp.

Object: Get campers to line up alphabetically by name.

Number of Participants: At least 8. Try it with a large group of 100 or more and let me know how it turns out.

Materials: None.

Area: Depends on group.

How To Play: Ask campers to line up (or form a clockwise circle) alphabetically by their first names. When they think they have done it, have them raise their hands.

Variation: For groups who know each other, use middle names instead.