The 175 Best Camp Games: A Handbook for Leaders


Games for kids 4 to 16, plus tips on keeping them fun and fair for all participants.

Camp games are meant to be fun. Here are the very best camp-tested games for boys and girls aged 4 to 16, with easy-to-follow instructions and illustrations. The Frasers include indoor and outdoor games for both small and ...

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Games for kids 4 to 16, plus tips on keeping them fun and fair for all participants.

Camp games are meant to be fun. Here are the very best camp-tested games for boys and girls aged 4 to 16, with easy-to-follow instructions and illustrations. The Frasers include indoor and outdoor games for both small and large groups, with some old favorites and lots of new, soon-to-be favorites.

The 175 Best Camp Games also includes advice on:

  • Choosing the right game for the situation
  • Starting and ending games
  • Dealing with rule breakers
  • Modifying games for varied abilities
  • Assuring safety and good supervision.

This practical guide is easy to use, and the more than 175 games are divided into five chapters:

  • Break the Ice (Name Dropping, Life Raft)
  • Taking It Easy (Speed Rabbit, Electricity)
  • Getting Them Moving (Soh Koh No, Kitty Wants a Corner)
  • Running Them Ragged (Pairs Tag, Fox in the Henhouse)
  • Wet and Wild (Battleship, Sharks and Mermaids).

Though written with camp leaders in mind, this book will appeal to youth activity directors, counselors, counselors-in-training, coaches, scout leaders, parents, teachers and any other adult looking for creative group activities for youth that include all participants and require little or no special equipment.

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Editorial Reviews

North Shore News - Terry Peters
Anyone who is faced with the challenge of keeping a group of children entertained knows the value of a great game. A game can stimulate children physically and mentally, provide social interaction, teach new skills and most importantly be a lot of fun. But if you find yourself relying on distant memories of your own childhood games then this book will be a big help. There are plenty of games to choose from; some may be familiar, like I Spy or Blind Man's Bluff, but for most people this will be a wealth of new activities.
Guelph Mercury/Waterloo Region Record - Brenda Hoerle
The games in this book run the gamut of camp requirements. Some are perfect for breaking the ice among new campers. Others are run-them-ragged games, designed to tire the participants. Still others are designed to let everybody win. There is advice for dealing with rule breakers and for keeping things fun, fair and safe.... This book would be great for camp leaders, counselors-in-training and anyone looking for creative group activities that require little or no special equipment.
Canadian Materials - Claire Perrin
The purpose of this book is to gather and describe all the best camp games under one cover... The authors collectively have many years of experience as campers, camp leaders and eventually teachers. This is evident in the variety of games they present as well as in the way the information is presented. The handbook is very well organized and easy to understand... Instructions are presented clearly.... One of the best features of the handbook is the Tips for Leaders which...include dealing with rulebreakers, pros and cons of elimination games, and ways to modify games.... The illustrations are a great supplement to the instructions...The illustrator clearly made an effort to include children of many different races, sizes and abilities in her illustrations. The 175 Best Camp Games would be a valuable resource to not only camp counsellors, but anyone who works with young people. Parents, teachers, recreation leaders, and childcare providers would likely find many uses for the wide array of games described in this handbook.
North Bay Nugget
This book is a treasure trove of ideas and a great resource for summer fun.
Green Teacher
This is a perfect resource for any group leader, camp counselor, recreation director or parent interested in being active with young adults..... possibly one of the best resources for camp or after-school leaders in print.
Kirkus Reviews
Three former campers, leaders and now full-fledged teachers have compiled a treasure-trove of games and activities suitable for children in early-elementary- through upper-middle-school grades. While the title indicates "camp," the ideas are appropriate for a number of situations, from schoolyard play to gyms, backyards and community centers. Divided into five large categories-"Break the Ice," "Take It Easy," "Get Them Moving," "Run Them Ragged" and "Wet and Wild"-the games are also coded for certain features such as "Rainy Day," "Brain Games," "Everybody Wins" or "Team Builder." Clear, easy-to-follow instructions include number of players, equipment and game plan, augmented by Lum's humorous cartoon illustrations and completed with extra hints and tips for leaders in shaded sidebar-style notations. Tips range from "modifying for abilities" to "peaking games," in which suggestions are given for ending on a high note before kids get bored or frustrated. While most games are universally appropriate, a quick guide by age range would have been appreciated. Nevertheless, a great resource. (bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781550465051
  • Publisher: Boston Mills Press
  • Publication date: 8/24/2009
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 321,784
  • Product dimensions: 8.56 (w) x 10.84 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura and Mary Fraser are accredited teachers who spent a combined 16 years as camp leaders and activity program directors. Kathleen Fraser is an editor, writer and the parent of grown campers and camp leaders. The Frasers live in Mississauga, Canada.

Bernice Lum is an award-winning artist and illustrator of 40 books, including 3 Little Firefighters, Mighty Maddie and Stuff to Hold Your Stuff.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Break the Ice
My Name Is Aaron and I Like Aardvarks
Dress Me
Hula Hoop Pass
Name Dropping
Blind Man's Bluff
Move Your Butt
Frozen Ts
I Love Marmalade
Team Jump Rope
Name Ball Bounce
Life Raft
Human Knot
String Toss
Darling, If You Love Me
Shoe Pile

Leadership Activities
Cooperative Rocks
Nuclear Reactor
Helium Stick
Pass the Ball
The Elephant Game
Leaky Pipes

Take It Easy
Black Magic
Going on a Picnic
This Is a What?
Twenty Questions
Two Truths and a Lie
I Spy
What Has Changed?
Total Recall
Pass the Slap
Dumb Crambo
Look Up, Look Down
Heads Up, Seven Up

Drama games
Broken Telephone
Who's the Leader
Human Machine
Red Ball, Yellow Ball
Master and Servant

Improv Games
Bus Stop/Park Bench
Sitting, Standing, Lying
Party Quirks
Murder Wink
Up, Jenkins!
King's Keys (aka Pirate's Treasure)
Soh Koh No (aka Ah Soh Koh)
Silent Ball
Scavenger Hunt
Backwards Scavenger
Blow Soccer

Overnight Camp
A Little Night Music
Feelings on the Floor
Star Pictures
Flashlight Tag
Werewolf Tag
Thorn and a Rose
One-Word Story

Get Them Moving
Speed Rabbit

Parachute Games
Fruit Salad
Cat and Mouse
Shark Attack
Chute Ball
Color Exchange
Parachute Golf
Ford Angular Gear Box
Kitty Wants a Corner
Animal Game

Just for Juniors
Doggy Doggy
Simon Says
Follow the Leader
Mother, May I?
Duck, Duck, Goose
Flying Dutchman
Hot and Cold
Horses, Knights and Cavaliers
Guard the Castle (aka CN Tower)
Jump the Creek
Larry, Curly, Moe
Human Ladders
Wax Museum
Steal the Bacon

Musical Games
Musical Chairs
Cooperative Musical Chairs
The Shark
Rikki Tikki
Dance Freeze
Star Strike
Tunes on a Topic
Limbo Contest

Theme Days
Crazy Costumes
Zany Food

Relay Races
Over-Under Relay
Tunnel Relay
Blind Artist / Blind Writer
Balloon Pass
Ice Floe Race
Orange Pass
Leapfrog Relay
Beach Toy Relay
Beanbag Balance

Run Them Ragged
Ship to Shore
Dragon Tails
Red Light, Green Light
Chuck the Chicken
Crab Soccer

Tag, You're It
Pairs Tag
Beanbag Tag
Blob tag
Slow Motion Tag
Category Tag

Frozen Tag (aka Freeze Tag)
Lightning Tag
Toilet Tag
Cow-Tipping tag
Hot-Dog Tag
Fox in the Henhouse
Giants, Wizards, Elves
Chocolate Factory
Candy Corners
Octopus (Run Like Chewbacca)

Traditional Games
Capture the Flag
King of the Castle
Red Rover
British Bulldog
Cops and Robbers
Chicken Fight
Sword in the Stone: Supreme Master of the Universe
Hide and Seek
What Time Is It, Mr. Wolf?
Streets and Alleys
Ultimate Frisbee
Foosball Soccer
007 Dodgeball
King's Court Dodgeball
Ball Master
European Handball
Dryland Torpedo

Wet and Wild
Drip Drip Drop
Firefighter Relay
Wet T-Shirt Relay
Water Limbo
Water Balloon Toss
Wet Potato

Swimming Games
Marco Polo
Sharks and Mermaids (aka Sharks and Minnows)
Water Polo
Still Pond
Musical Kickboards
Stuck in the Mud

Tips for Leaders
Key to Game Icons
How to Start Games
Peaking Games
Play the Game
Modifying Games for Abilities
Inclusion is for Everyone
Bending the Rules
Tips on Training Leaders
Evaluating Leaders
Creating a Daily Program
Sample Programs
Smog Days
Transition Games
Lost for Words
Shy Kids
Also Known As (AKA)
Dealing with Rule Breakers
Lights Out
Dealing with Homesickness
Age Groups
Birthday Party Plan
How to Create Even Teams
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Modifying Games for Themes
How a Relay Race Works
How to Create a Kooky Relay
Group Challenges
Ways to Make a
Relay More Difficult
Pros and Cons of Elimination Games
Ways to Choose It
Setting Boundaries
Supervision and Safety
Stay Safe in Sticky Situations
Supervision and Hide and Seek
Lost Child
Dealing with Boring Betty, Competitive Charlie and Lazy Linda: Encouraging Equal Play
There's More to Life Than Circle Dodgeball
007 Clap Game
Modifying Games for Number of Participants
Water Safety
Sun Safety


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We began as kids, eager to play and even more eager to fit in. We wore old sneakers and hats that made our ears stick out. We thought that our camp in a park in the suburbs was pretty close to being in the wilderness. We thought our counselors were the bee's knees, especially when bees stung our knees and we needed ice packs and a hug.

We returned later as leaders, eager to help new campers make friends and have fun. We wore old sneakers and hats that made our ears stick out. We sometimes wished that our camp in a park in the suburbs was a sleep-away camp in the wilderness, but we were glad when we got to go home at the end of the day. We thought our campers were amazing and enthusiastic kids, even though they sometimes drove us a little crazy. We were proud when we could give them ice packs or a hug, but were even more proud when we handed the kids back to their parents, knowing that each child had enjoyed his or her day and felt like a meaningful part of a team.

Years later, teaching in classrooms, we meet our former campers and feel honored when their 13-year-old brains remember a summer we spent together when they were five and we played camp games.

Why We Play Games
Games are the most useful tool we know in aiding childhood development. They help children develop hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, listening skills, and the ability to think, respond and strategize. They encourage children to work together as a team to achieve a common goal. They allow children to experience success and failure in a positive and supportive environment. They help children communicate with each other and with adults. They teach children valuable life lessons, such as "if you break a rule, you have to deal with the consequences," or "if you brag about winning the game, nobody will want to play against you next time."

Today, as children's time in front of various "screens" (television, computer, video game) is increasing, it is more and more important to encourage children to play games with other real live kids. Particularly for children who do not have brothers or sisters, and children who do not live in child-friendly neighborhoods, playing games at camp, at a recreation program, or at school may be the only time that they get to interact sociaUy with other children in their age group without the structure of learning a specific sports drill or vocabulary word.

In addition to the social benefits of game playing, the health benefits of daily physical activity are well documented. Play is extremely important in developing healthy children who will go on to become healthy adults. By getting kids up and moving, we teach them the importance of physical activity in living a healthy and long life.

Why We Wrote This

During our collective years as camp counselors and teachers-in-training we found a great many games books. Some of them included detailed rules for sports; some of them had exhaustive descriptions of pencil and paper games, or card games Some described games that encouraged pummeling playmates! But none of them seemed to contain what we needed. We needed camp-tested games that would excite even the most seasoned camp veterans. We needed a games book that took into consideration the concerns of today's recreation programs and addressed issues such as supervision, safety, and inclusion of children of all ages and abilities, including those with special needs or behavioral challenges.

We began cobbling together binders with notes of games we played when visiting other programs, games we saw someone else play or heard someone describe, or games that we had tried before, but had found ways to modify to make them more exciting and engaging for each individual participant.

As we moved from the world of day camps to the world of teaching, we decided we needed to write this book. We needed to take our notes and turn them into a guide for today's camp counselors, youth activity directors, recreational program leaders, counselors-in-training, teachers, coaches, scout and club leaders, parents and anyone else looking for creative group activities that include all participants and require little or no specialized equipment.

How To Use This Book
Just because the title of the book is The 175 Best Camp Games doesn't mean these games are meant only for camps: they can be played in schoolyards, gymnasiums, community centers and backyards year-round. With games for all levels of movement and activity, and games that appeal to a variety of age groups and activities, this book will help you play with just about any group of children.

We have divided the games into five chapters: Break the Ice, Take It Easy, Get Them Moving, Run Them Ragged, and Wet and Wild.

Games in BREAK THE ICE work best at the beginning of the program session, as many of them are based on learning each other's names and getting to know each other. These games range in activity level and amount of space required, but none of them will leave your participants exhausted. And although these games are ice-breakers, they can be played throughout the camp session to develop group unity and a team atmosphere. At the end of this chapter we also include some activities especially good for building skills and spirit among leaders and leaders-in-training.

TAKE IT EASY games require only minimal movement. However, they are not necessarily easy or low-energy or quiet: we don't believe that any game is a quiet game (with the exception of Silent Ball, at page 66). These games are good to play right after an exhausting game of tag, or just after lunch when tummies are full. Most of these games will work well in small spaces. This chapter includes a number of brain games.

GET THEM MOVING games require some movement and physical activity. These games are usually on-your-feet and may require quick bursts of speed to get from one place to another. They generally require a larger playing area than Take It Easy games, but many can still be played inside. We've included relays in this chapter.

RUN THEM RAGGED games are designed to exhaust your participants, to burn off their energy, and to raise heart rates. These games usually require a medium or large space and, though many can be played in gyms, most are more fun outdoors. Many variations of tag are included in this chapter.

Finally, WET AND
games are played in, around, or with water. Some of them are in-pool games, some can be played in a lake or river, and others use equipment such as buckets of water, sponges or water balloons to get participants wet and cooled off.

In addition to dividing the games by chapter, we have used several handy icons to help game leaders match their programing needs to the games in the book.

See the key, left, for an explanation of what each icon means.

We also share our camp-tested strategies for keeping play fun, fair and safe. Throughout the book we have included many recommendations and tips on how to play games, encourage participants and structure a camp program. These TIPS FOR LEADERS are based on our years of experience, especially at camp but also in school environments, as well as many enjoyable occasions spent comparing notes with other camp counselors, parents and educators.

With each game, you will find a list of required equipment, a recommended number of participants, and a game plan. Many games also include variations and suggestions for modifying games to include more or fewer participants, to increase or decrease the difficulty level, and to include participants with physical, intellectual or developmental disabilities or behavior challenges. These suggestions will help you keep your participants safe, happy and having fun, but leaders should continually monitor the games and activities the group is playing to prevent injured bodies and hurt feelings.

We encourage you to use this book as a starting guide for developing your own recreation program, wheth

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