Top Programming Ideas 2004

Once you have the four statements together, create a fifth fictitious (false) statement that may trick some into making an incorrect guess. This red herring should be believable, and plausible enough to be the right guess for any of the four staffers in that particular group.

To play the game, call up one of the staff groups to the front of the camper group. In no particular order, read each of the five statements aloud (four are true as provided by the staffers themselves and one is the false one that was made up).

After they have been read a couple of times, the camper groups vote on which statement they believe goes with each staff member, and on which statement they believe to be the red herring, or whatever name you decide to call it.

The voting can be done orally or on paper, whichever works best for the situation. Once the voting is done, the statements are read aloud, again, with the staffer who provided it stepping forward and fessin’ up to it.

I have had the opportunity to play this at a few different camps, and it never fails to entertain!

–John “Slim” Gillin is a teacher from Hooper Bay, Alaska, who works summers at YMCA Camp Merrill M. Benson, Mount Carroll, Ill.

Mission Impossible

After a few days of rain, everything was still damp. We didn’t want the kids running and slipping on the field so we developed Mission Impossible, a game that’s played outside and uses the entire camp property.

Start by dividing the camp into two teams. Each team receives a letter that says:

Dear Campers:

Your precious camp mascot has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom at a secret location. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out where the mascot is being held.

You will meet “secret agents” (i.e. counselors) in the field who will give you clues if you successfully accomplish the task at their location.

To get the clue, you must stay together as a team and your entire team must complete the task. The clue will only be given to you once, so listen and watch carefully.

Good luck! This letter will self-destruct in 10 seconds. Go!

Each team starts at a different location where a “secret agent” is waiting. At that location, the team must perform a “task” in order to get the clue for the kidnapped mascot, and to find out the location of the next secret agent.

The task involves any kind of team activity. Some of the team building games we used included making a campfire from scratch, tossing a beach ball while singing the ABCs and not dropping it, making a square with a rope with their eyes closed or tossing three free throws in a row.

If the team accomplishes the task, the team gets the clue from the secret agent, and the agent tells the team where the next secret agent is waiting.

Use places throughout the camp for each team activity so the kids will have a good walk between locations. Use your CITs as team leaders, and to help ensure the team stays together, and doesn’t run.

There should be at 10 or more agents so each team can receive at least 10 clues. The clues can be written or can be physical objects. One of our clues was water dripping from a hose. Another one was a bottle of Windex. You can be as creative as you want.

At the beginning of the game, the camp director must decide where the mascot is being held. It can be on the camp property or somewhere in the state at a well-known park, museum or sports field. The team that arrives at “base” first with the right answer wins the game.

The counselors love the game because they get to dress up as “agents” and play the part. They can be extremely creative with their costumes and stay “in character” throughout the night. The kids love it because it allows them to use both their mental and physical abilities. It’s a game that levels the playing field for all ages and physical abilities.

We were also fortunate enough to have a camper who could play Mission Impossible on the bass guitar, which made fun sound effects to kick off the game.

The only downside to the game is the planning required by the director. The director must assign locations and activities for each counselor to be responsible for, and the director must provide all clues to the counselors (keeping the final answer a secret).

You must also make sure the two teams never arrive at the same location at the same time. A good way to avoid that is to take the locations and reverse the order for the two teams, but the counselors must not mix up the teams and give the wrong location to the wrong team.

The game takes a little patience to develop and explain, but it’s well worth the effort in terms of a new fun and challenging game for the campers.

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