Archive for the ‘Non-Competitive’ Category

Shark Tank, Treasure Hunt

This game is a bigger and better version of the playground classic “Sharks and Minnows”.

I was subbing as the P.E. Teacher at Lin Howe Elementary the other day. The game “Shark Tank” was planned by the regular teacher and a nice diagram was drawn to illustrate it. I had never heard of the game Shark Tank before but the diagram showed a large circle in the middle of the playing field that served as the tank. I asked Coach Doug what the purpose of the tank was and figured out that there was no real purpose for it. In other words, this was about to be a big field game of Sharks and Minnows. I thought about adding something to the tank area that gave it a reason for being there. We spread out a bucketful of bean bags within the tank boundary and told the minnows that in addition to getting safely to the other side they needed to pick up one, and only one, tresaure from the tank. That day, we had 100% participation from the students which is a rare occurrence.

Special thanks to Coach Doug and Coach “G” for helping make this game come to life and for working out the bugs in the game until the rules made sense. 

Area: Soccer field or half football field

Number of Participants: 50 – 100 participants; 3 referees.

Materials: Three long ropes tied together to make one large circle; about 15 large pylons (two colors) to delineate the playing boundary and the shark tank; about 50 bean bags; field whistle.

Set-up: Tie three ropes together and lay it in a circle out in the middle of the field that is desginated as the shark tank. Stretch the rope with 4 – 6 cones of one color (we used blue) so there is a clear boundary. Arrange other cones around field boundary. Choose 3 – 7 participants to be “sharks” who will do the chasing and have them stand in the tank area at the beginning of each round. All other participants go to one end of the field to start off as a group of “minnows”. Designate one referee in the center to organize the sharks; one referee stays on one end of the field and the third referee goes to the other end of the field fo start the minnows during each round. All referees watch for fair play.

How To Play: When the referee blows the whistle, the round begins. Minnows try to get to the other end of the field without being tagged by the sharks. If they get tagged, they must freeze where they are, even if they have a bean bag treasure. Minnows may choose to go into the shark tank and steal one of the bean bags (treasures) and make it to the other side. They may only steal one treasure each round. If more than one treasure is taken by any one minnow during a round, all minnows forfeit their treasures for that round and they are re-dispersed in the shark tank area.

Minnows who successfully make it to the other side without being tagged, whether or not they’ve picked up a bean bag treasure, are safe for that round and live to see another round. All the minnows who were tagged during the round are called in to the shark tank (I like to call out “Shark Swarm! Shark Swarm! and clap whie motioning all sharks and tagged minnows to the center for a huddle). That’s where the shark swarm gets a chance to plan their strategy for the next round. At this time also the minnows can plan their strategy to outwit the sharks. When referees see that both the sharks and minnows are ready to begin again, they blow the whistle to signal the start of the next round.

Play continues, round after round until either all the treasures are taken (minnows win) or five minnows are left (sharks win). Once a winning team is determined, the last five minnows can choose to be the next sharks or they can choose a person to replace them.

Pac-Man

Like the action-packed video game from the 80s, this playground game is sure to make you just as anxious when you get trapped by the Pac-Men coming at you. I learned this game while substitute teaching for a PE coach. I worked with groups of 30-35 kids, all in grades K – 2nd. I taught this game in steps, introducing the “options” at the bottom later once the kids mastered the game and could handle opening it up more.

 

Object: Pac-Men try to tag all other players while all non-Pac-Men try not to get tagged.

Number of Players: 10 – 50, depending on size of court and number of “outlets” you draw.

Area: small size = volleyball court, large size = basketball court

Materials: chalk to draw “outlet” lines if you choose this option. 4 vests or jerseys to distinguish Pac-Men from “food”.

Set-up: Show players the boundaries. Choose 4 Pac-Men to be it.

How To Play: Pac-Men stay at center court until “go”. Other participants (the “food”) must stay on the lines of the court they are on. No jumping lines. And no running, ever. Both Pac-Men and “food” must walk the entire game. “Food” participants use the lines as their highways to roam around on. When they are tagged by a Pac-Man, they must sit down. As a first option, I have them sitting off the lines so all players can continue to roam freely. Once all “food” has been tagged, all players return to the center to restart the game, picking new Pac-Men.

Options: To make the game much more interesting and to accommodate more people, try these options. First, use chalk to connect playground lines. For example, if the basketball court you are playing on is next to the four-square or volleyball courts, draw a line using chalk to connect the lines, providing a new outlet for the “food”. Second, to make it harder on the “food” and easier on the Pac-Men, instead of sitting down off the lines when you get tagged, sit down on the line to create a roadblock that no one may pass.

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.

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.