Made For The Shade

On hot summer afternoons when the sun is baking the playing fields and a group’s turn for swimming is over, camp counselors wonder what they can do with restless campers. Here are some activities that are made for the shade.

There are three types of activities included here–variations of circle games, nature exploration and storytelling. Certainly there are additional games in each category.

Circle Games

For each of these games, campers sit in a circle on the ground or floor and choose one person to be “it.” Campers of all ages can play for as long as the group is interested.

· What Is Different?

The person designated as “it” stands in the center of the circle so the campers observe his/her appearance. Then “it” goes out of sight of the group and makes one small change to his/her appearance, such as putting shoes on the wrong feet, taking glasses off or changing hair. When “it” returns to the circle, the other campers try to guess what has changed.

· Honey, I Love You

“It” stands in front of a person in the circle and says, “Honey, I love you but I just can’t smile,” while trying to get that person in the circle to smile. If the person does not smile, “it” goes on to another person, continuing until someone in the circle smiles. That person then becomes “it.”

· Find The Leader

The “it” person leaves the circle and turns his/her back on the rest of the campers. In the circle, one camper is identified as the leader. That person creates a rhythm (by patting legs, snapping fingers, tapping head, etc.) for the rest of the group to follow. The leader will change the motion periodically and the other children will follow. Once everyone in the circle is doing the rhythm, have “it” return to the circle, and try to figure out who the rhythm leader is. Once “it” identifies the leader, a new “it” and “leader” are selected for another round.

Nature Exploration

These nature exploration activities can be done sitting or standing in one place. They do not involve lots of moving around or long walks–except a short walk to get to a place to explore.

· I Spy

Have the group sit in a circle and choose one person to be “it.” That person then selects an item in nature that he/she can see and says, “I spy something yellow or green or alive, etc.” The rest of the group asks questions which can be only answered by “yes” or “no.” When the item is guessed, the person who guessed correctly gets to be “it” and chooses the next item.

· Make A Sound Map

Take the group to a shady spot away from most of the sounds of camp life, and distribute paper, pencils and a hard surface to each camper. Have each camper find a place to sit a short distance from others, and mark an X in the middle of the paper to represent themselves. Tell campers to be quiet and to listen to the natural sounds around them. Whenever they hear a sound, they put a mark on the paper to show where the sound is coming from and what they think is making the sound. Give campers as much time as they can stay focused. Then gather them together, and invite them to talk about how many and what sounds they heard. If the group has access to field guides to scout out birds and other wildlife, they can find out more about the source of the sound.

· Take A Micro Hike

Go to a natural setting within the camp. Give all the campers a 15-inch piece of string or yarn, and have them make a circle with it on the ground. Then each camper explores what is inside the circle. Encourage them to observe what kinds of dirt, plants, creatures or evidence of creatures they see. Have campers dig and observe what the second level of the ground is like. When they are finished, have the campers fill in the holes they have dug, and return the ground to the way it was when they arrived. Encourage them to talk about their discoveries.

Storytelling

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