Players: 6 - 18
Space: Medium (A Gym or Baseball Field work best)
Supplies: 1 Playground Ball and 4 Bases
There is a game named SPUD! that has blessed many
playgrounds, backyards and hard tops for the last several
decades (if not more) that I remember playing and losing
many times as a child. The biggest problem with this game is
that children have to sit down once they spell SPUD.
Normally this means that the unskilled (like me) were
sitting for more than half of the game. This particular
version can be played with many various skill levels and age
levels simultaneously without anyone having to sit out.
Game Play and Setup
The four bases are set up in a diamond configuration,
just like in Kickball or Baseball. After playing for a
while, the facilitator is encouraged to alter the
configuration or base order. If working with a younger
group, be sure to demonstrate the correct running order (the
counter-clockwise baseball convention). I start off with a
regular order then switch it up when the kids start getting
too comfortable (about 10 minutes into the game).
Before the game begins, every player is numbered
secretly. The players are asked nicely not to share their
number (although it doesn't really hurt the game if the
numbers are revealed). A neat way of doing this is having
the players choose from a hat - so if during the game they
forget what their number is, they can check. I've also heard
of facilitators writing the number on the palm of the
The goal of this game is to score as many runs as
possible. Runs are scored with each successful rounding of
the bases (or, depending on the base order, each time the
player crosses home plate). Scores are kept individually and
each player is in charge of remembering their personal run
count. If working with a younger group, an extra facilitator
could stand near home plate and fill in a Score Card, but
normally I find that kids do a good job keeping track.
Beyond that, if they forget exactly what their score is,
A player is randomly chosen to be the first "IT." All
they need to do is stand in the center of the diamond, throw
the playground ball in the air and yell out the first number
that comes to their head (that is not their number and is
someone else's number). The rest of the players start at
home plate and commence rounding the bases as soon as the
number is called. The "IT" player first runs to home plate
and then begins rounding the bases as well. NOTE: the ball
has to be thrown straight up in the air.
The number that is called is the number of the next "IT."
The new "IT" has the responsibility to leave their path,
grab the playground ball and yell "SPUD" at the top of their
lungs. The moment that "SPUD" is called, every player must
Freeze. If a player continues running when a loud "SPUD" is
yelled, they must go back to home plate (without scoring a
run). "SPUD" cannot be yelled if the "IT" does not have the
At this point, the "IT" can take three (3) giant steps
toward any player that is *not* touching a base (bases
indicate safety) and roll the ball at that player's feet. If
the frozen player is hit by the ball, they lose a run (yes,
negatives happen!) and then gets to throw the ball from the
center of the diamond starting another round. If no one is
hit, or a *safe* player is hit, the "IT" player must then
start the next round by throwing the ball from the center of
the diamond. No matter who throws the ball (and yells the
next number), that player must start a new cycle of base
running. This becomes an important strategic point for older
The way that I like to play is with a standard diamond
configuration at first and switch to a Home, Second, First,
Third configuration after about 10 or 15 minutes. Larger
groups will start to complain if certain numbers are never
yelled (although that makes collecting runs easier), so the
facilitator should keep track and give subtle hints to the
thrower. Because there is so much running, I have the kids
get a drink when I feel the game has peaked and follow with
a more subdued game. This way there is less comparison of
scores. Teaching this in a Physical Education setting is a
great way to help younger players learn about base running.
Older players could keep an accurate tally of their personal
score in a log and attempt to track improvement over several
Players: 10+ (the more, the better!)
Space: Small or Medium (I recommend a half-gym)
Supplies: 4 cones or any other means of clearly marking the
I was approached around February about making some sort
of activity for Valentines Day. I came up with this one very
quickly and assumed that the extreme difficulty would
backfire. Apparently, I was *incredibly* wrong. This game
encourages some bizarre team work and can be very fun to
watch (especially since some players will fall in love with
Game Play and Setup
Clearly define a small to medium square as the playing
area. Using cones is convenient as the facilitator can alter
the size to meet the needs of the game.
The concept is simple: Freeze Tag meets Cupid. In a
normal game of Freeze Tag, the "IT" runs around the space
safely tagging all in sight. Players who are tagged are
frozen until they are unfrozen by another unfrozen player.
Generally this game can continue for 20 minutes or so,
rotating the "IT" every couple of minutes.
Cupid's variation involves a small alteration of the tag
rule: Cupid must tag two (2) players simultaneously in order
to freeze them. Although to the common facilitator this may
seem impossible, I have seen some very determined children!
An extension of the rules is either eliminating
unfreezing (as this would make the game too *easy* for the
players) or that a player may only be unfrozen by two (2)
players removing Cupid's spell via some interesting
incantation ("I hereby declare you enchantment-free!"
Sometimes I think this game is better as an impossible
challenge - only because there are *argument causing*
factors throughout. As a facilitator, I would watch very
closely and assert myself as the final word in who is frozen
and who isn't. Also, remind the "IT" about proper tagging
techniques! Without this reminder, a viable solution would
be grabbing someone smaller by the sleeve and not letting go
until someone else is within hand-swipe!
Players: 16+ (I'd probably put the cap
around 40, depending on the size of the space and amount of
Space: Medium to Large four (4) walled space
Supplies: 1 large heavy ball (one of those gymnastics balls
works best) and every soccer, basketball and playground ball
that is available (close to the amount of players)
game goes way back in my physical education past to third
grade at Stratford Academy. Ms. Mee, one of the most
inspirational Phys. Ed. teachers I have ever had the
opportunity to witness, allowed us to play this "treat" only
on special occasions, despite year-round pleas. I still
socialize with Stratford Academy friends and one fond memory
is this team-friendly and skill friendly game.
Game Play and Setup
boundaries of "Sink the Ship" are normally the foul lines
around the basketball court. In most gyms, this means that
two of the sides are larger than the other two. To make this
"fair" I normally have each team switch sides every four
Put all of the balls in the middle of the gym. Put
the large heavy ball in the exact center (from now on I'll
refer to it as the "Ship"). Divide the group into four (4)
equal teams. Sometimes the teams need to be reevaluated to
equalize the game, but a clever facilitator (like Ms. Mee)
could motivate the game toward a tie.
Each group gets one
complete side of the gym. During the game, no one is allowed
to cross the foul line or cross into any other team's space
- regardless of whether they have / need a ball or not. This
rule needs to be emphasized, as the game can cause
excitement and crossing the boundaries could lead to
This game, like most, is based on a
simple idea: Sink the "Ship!" This is achieved by having the
"Ship" cross any of the foul lines in the gym. Of course,
whichever foul line is crossed, that team is penalized by
scoring a point (the lowest score *wins*).
round, the balls are all put into the center of the court
and a signal is given for the players to grab a ball. Each
player may only grab one ball (unless there are more balls
than players) and cannot throw the ball until the round
begins. Once all of the balls are grabbed and the players
are back behind their lines, the round can begin.
Quite obviously, teams will throw the balls at the "Ship"
hoping to keep it far away from their border. Balls must be
thrown (instead of waiting for the "Ship" to come close and
nudging or punching it with the ball). The facilitator may
have to make "ball hog" rules, but since there is no line
crossing, regulating who gets the ball is fairly easy. The
facilitator also should stand somewhere in the middle to
help distribute the momentum-less dead balls. Oh, and no one
can ever touch the "Ship." Did I forget to mention that?
I love this game. There
are so many levels of micro and macro management at work
during the game that teams have to learn to adjust or will
not survive. Even with the strongest thrower, a poorly
managed team could continuously fail. There needs to be an
offense and defense, constantly working together to keep the
ball supply up and the "Ship" far away. To keep one team
from running away with the win, the facilitator should
constantly voice the score in between rounds. A variation
that I also enjoy is having only two (2) teams in charge of
two of the sides. On a rainy day, this could be varied for
over 30 minutes without player fatigue.
Sharks and Barracudas
Players: 8+ (I've
played 4 on 4, but can imagine up to 10 on 10... or more!)
Space: A Medium Gymnasium (can be adapted to 1/2 a soccer
Supplies: 1 ball for every player (various sizes and types
are a big plus)
Everyone loves "Capture the Flag." When I
was really young, "Capture the Flag" meant running through
the woods non-stop (sometimes late at night) with a
basically unachievable goal. Sounds dangerous? Then it was
revised as I got older to playing on a field - which worked
much better as a game. Gyms have normally presented a
challenge when adapting "Capture the Flag" mostly because of
the size. This game combines two successful games ("Capture
the Flag" and "Sharks and Minnows") in order to make a very
entertaining and challenging gym experience for those of any
Game Play and Setup
The group needs to split into two *basically even* teams.
The space is split in half and each team claims their side
(the "Shark" side and the "Barracuda" side). At the back of
each side, there is a safety zone from the foul line to the
wall. Place one (1) ball in this safety zone for each player
on the opposite team (for instance, if there are nine (9)
Barracudas, then there should be nine (9) balls in the
safety area behind the Sharks).
The goal of the game is to
either: (1) Have all of the balls in the game on a single
side; or (2) Capture all of the opposing players.
rules are fairly simple. The center line represents the
"tag" line. If a Barracuda steps onto the Shark side, then
they can be tagged and consequently go to jail. Conversely,
the same happens if a Shark crosses over to the Barracuda's
side. If a player is tagged without a ball, they must go to
the safety zone behind their opponent (the jail) - Sharks
end up behind Barracudas and vice versa. If a player is
tagged while holding a ball, they must return the ball and
return to their side before resuming play.
If a player is in the jail, they must stay in the safety
zone until one of their teammates who is *not* in jail
successfully swipes a ball.
Players who are trying to take
balls may only take them from the opposing side's safety
zone. Players in the safety zone CANNOT be tagged! Players
can only hold one ball at a time and may not pass / kick /
throw the ball at any time. If a ball is dropped, that ball
must be returned to the safety area from which it was taken.
Once a ball successfully crosses the halfway line, the
player must bring it into their safety zone!
idea is that some of the players will try to steal the balls
while others play defense. The jobs will change
significantly as some are captured or as the loot dwindles.
I love introducing new
games to a group of kids - especially amid yells of "Wall
ball" and "Dodgeball" or other such standard games that are
probably played too often by lazy instructors. When I first
taught this game to a group of middle schoolers, their
reaction was an expected hesitation. They left saying that
it was the greatest game ever. Of course, I'll probably
never play it again with them - I am fairly strict about my
no-repeat attitude with groups I scarcely see - but the
effectiveness with all players of varied skill levels was
wonderful. In addition, the processing that the team work
and strategies provide is excellent for educational
I'm not going to lie and say this is an original idea...
because it's not. I visited Camp Yaguuuuuuuuu (?) which is
the oldest scout camp in the country and saw this incredibly
There was a stump dangling from a rope on a tripod. The
structure was about 4 feet tall and very eye catching,
although surrounded by trees and other such nature-related
colors. Leaning on the leg of the tripod was a wooden sign
that read "Weather Stump" and followed with instructions on
how to operate the tool.
I cannot remember all of the instructions, but a simple
and clear one was "If the stump is wet, it's raining."
Awesome. I always wanted a weather telling device that was
accurate - and as far as I can tell this stump was the most
accurate thing I had ever seen. "If you cannot see the
stump, it's foggy;" "If the stump is on fire, run!"
Upon returning to my own camp, I decided to build my very
own Weather Stump. The structure was a huge hit, although I
thought we could do one better.
All meteorologists know the special weather-predicting
abilities of the coconut, but this important information
rarely reaches the public. After consulting with many in the
weather-field and attending a secret meteorological ceremony
in the heart of a volcano (they don't mess around), I was
told about the mysteriously wonderful properties of the
coconut. The following summer, I rebuilt the weather
station, this time substituting a coconut for the stump.
The experiment was a complete success. Not only was the
coconut more accurate, but I could tell from the amount of
attention it received that everyone could tell how superior
a coconut is in predicting forecasts than a stump.
From Board #1:
"Do Not Touch
* If it is moving, it must be windy
* If it is not moving, there is no wind
* If it is not there, it was stolen!!!
* If it is white, it is snowing
* If it is wet, it is raining
* If it is going "Tink, Tink, Tink", there must be hail
* If it is on fire, run!
* If you cannot see it, it is foggy
* If it was swallowed by the earth, there is an earthquake"
From Board #2:
"* If it is acting bored, there is no weather
* If it is casting a shadow, the sun is out
* If it is involuntarily bobbing up and down, there is a
* If there are steaming rocks raining down upon it, there is
a volcanic eruption
* If it ends up in Oz, there was a tornado"
Of course, that was our first coconut which had limited
meteorological abilities. With our expertise at choosing
better weather predictors, that list will not only expand,
but also be a more accurate!
The New Hotness
One day, Bryan came to camp wearing a LiveStrong
bracelet. I had never seen one, nor had many of the kids or
staff. Somehow he had found out about the fund raiser
directly when it started...
Anyway, during our morning announcements, he showed off
his new bling, referring to it as the "New Hotness." Since
the bit was pretty well received and seemed fairly harmless,
I started talking to everyone about the New Hotness.
"Do you have the New Hotness?"
"Oh snap! Look at his hotness..."
and so forth.
This started a ridiculously popular LiveStrong fad at my
camp, just months before the rest of the world became
enamored with the little yellow rubber bands.
Shortly after, Bryan started a New-New Hotness. He was
working under the assumption that fads are short and need to
be periodically replaced by something equally silly and
simple. So Bryan convinced the campers to wear goggles on
their heads all day. My competing Hotness, as I hated the
strap digging into my ginormous head, was to wear a winter
hat during the summer.
Neither of these New-New Hotnesses were as successful as
the LiveStrong bracelets, but they were quickly adapted and
created positive murmurs throughout camp. The following
years we integrated several other kinds of Hotness, all
achieving some level of success.
This picture is NOT of the New Hotness, but it's still
pretty darn funny. How else do you deal with campers
constantly pestering you for the schedule?