Posts Tagged ‘group building’

Blind Man’s Bombardment

Junkyard games are games that are made out of the materials and area you have at hand. When kids at the YMCA in the late 1800’s had a bouncy ball and a peach basket nailed up high to a post, they began the first basketball game. Blind Man’s Bombardment was invented on the spot at Camp Sunshine at Lindberg Park in Culver City. We had a soccer ball and a volleyball and used a handball court with a high backboard wall (20 ft.). It kept some older, sports-minded campers very busy for a good hour or so.

 

Objective: Land the ball in the other team’s court before they catch it. First team to lose 16 points loses the game.

Area: A double-sided handball wall or practice tennis court wall.

Equipment: Two balls that participants can successfully throw over the wall.

Number of Participants: 8 – 12

Set-up: Divide up teams evenly. Send each team to opposite sides of the wall. Give each team one of the balls.

How To Play: Each team starts with 16 points. On “go”, teams throw their ball over the wall, trying to land it in the other team’s boundary area. When a ball hits the court inside the boundary area, that team loses a point. If a ball is thrown out of bounds, there is no penalty and there is no score; it is a non-issue. When a team has been unable to catch 16 balls that land on their court, they lose.

Adaptation: For younger players who don’t have the strength to throw the ball that high, use a tennis court. The rules need to be adapted to the ability of the players involved. Kindergarteners through 2nd graders, for example, are allowed to let the ball touch their court but they lose their point if the ball goes off their court. 3rd – 5th graders on a tennis court might have the rule that only one bounce is allowed.

 

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”.