Need some inspiration for some games you can play at camp this year? Here’s a round-up of some of the best games to try this summer.
Play these games when you have a small area and are already sitting or standing in a circle.
1 - Human Knot
The main objective of Human Knot is to untangle a group of people. It can be played with any number of participants, but works best with about 8-20. Human Knot could also fall under the category of “team building” because it requires teamwork and communication between players.
There are no supplies needed for this game. Variations on this game include forming two groups and having them compete against each other, or having your team race against a timer. Get full instructions with pictures here.
2 - Hidden Surprise
For the game Hidden Surprise, you will need two dice and a shallow box or box lid to roll the dice in as you pass them around the circle. You prepare by putting a small prize (money, gift certificate, etc.) in a small container such as an empty pill bottle or baby food jar. Then you wrap the container over and over in a variety of materials such as tape, wrapping paper, plastic wrap, brown paper, foil...whatever you can find!
You place the object in the middle of the circle on the ground. Begin passing the box and dice around the circle. Whenever someone rolls doubles, they get to go to the middle of the circle and begin unwrapping the object. They keep unwrapping until someone else rolls doubles. That person takes their place. Whoever unwraps the last layer wins the prize!
These games will help you and your campers learn names and break the ice.
3 - Bumpity Bump Bump Bump
This game will help your group learn each other’s names without them even realizing it! To play, have your group form a circle. Standing is better than sitting, but this game can be played seated. Have everyone introduce themselves to the person on their right and left, and remember those people’s names.
Then, choose someone to be IT. This person walks around in the middle of the circle, then quickly jumps right in front of someone and says either “Right!”, “Left!” or “Front!” and then immediately afterward says “Bumpity Bump Bump Bump!” If they said “right,” the person they are in front of has to say the name of the person on their right. Left, the person on their left. Front, the name of the person who is IT.
They have to say the name of that person as fast as possible- before IT has a chance to finish saying “Bumpity Bump Bump Bump.” If they don’t make it, then they are IT. If they can do it, then IT just walks around the circle and chooses someone else.
You can change things up after you’ve played a while by having everyone mix up and form a new circle. They can introduce themselves to the new people next to them and keep playing!
4 - Bang!
Similar to “Bumpity Bump Bump Bump”, this game will help your group learn names in a fun non-threatening way. Someone who is not playing the game calls out a name and that named person has to duck out of they way before the people on the right and left of that person can yell “Bang!’ and pretend to shoot them.
This game slowly eliminates players until there is one winner, so you could play a few times in a row and award a small prize to the winner each round. Check out the detailed rules to “Bang!” here. Or, you can play it without names, explained here.
Team Building Games
Often your group of campers need to work together as a team. These games will help leaders emerge, build relationships, and develop problem solving skills all while playing games!
5 - Balloon Walk
To play Balloon Walk, give each person a large (at least 12 inch) balloon and have them blow it up and tie it. Tell your group that the objective of this game is to walk their balloons as a team over a certain distance or path (you can make this as easy or hard as you wish) without using their hands.
They can cushion the balloons between their bodies front to back, transporting them as they walk in a single file line, or come up with their own way to do it. If they drop a balloon they have to go back and start over. This game would also be fun if you have a big enough group to split them in two groups and have them compete against each other.
6 - Perfect Square
For this game you need bandanas to use as blindfolds, one per person, and a long piece of rope. Get everyone into a circle, then blindfold all participants. Have a leader drop a rope around the circle at everyone’s feet. Then, ask them to bend down and pick up the rope.
Tell them that the object of the game is to make the rope into a perfect square. They will need to communicate with each other and use teamwork to figure out how to make it happen. When they think they have successfully done it, the leader can instruct everyone to remove their blindfolds and see how they’ve done!
Large Group Games
Try these games when you have a large group (more than 25-30 people) playing.
7 - Balloon Stomp
To play balloon tag, give each person a medium sized balloon and a piece of string about 18-24 inches long. Have them blow up the balloon and then tie one side of the string to it. Have them tie the other side of the string to their ankle.
The object of the game is to pop other participants balloons, while leaving yours unharmed. Once your own balloon is popped, you are out of the game and move out of the field of play. The last person left with their balloon still inflated is the winner!
You can also play this game in teams- giving each team the same color balloon. Then, you only go after the colors that are on opposing teams. See rules for team Balloon Stomp here.
8 - Blob Tag (AKA Amoeba Tag)
While there are many variations of tag, this is one of the best. To play Blob Tag, you start with a large outdoor playing field, and one person who is IT. They try and tag someone, just like regular tag. But this time, when they do, that person they tagged must join hands with them and now the two of them together are IT and must remain together.
Now this pair is trying to tag another, and when they do, that third person must also join by holding hands. Thus, the name Blob Tag. Every time the blob, who are now collectively IT, tags someone, that person joins the blob. Whoever is the last person to not yet be tagged has won the game.
For more variations on tag, try this site.
9 - Crows and Cranes
This is a classic and reliably fun game for large groups. You need a way to mark three lines on a field of play, or play inside a gym or on a field where there are already lines. (You can also use cones.) One line will mark the middle, and two lines equal distance away from the middle will mark the “safe” zone for each team.
Divide your group into two teams, and have them line up along the center line. Have a leader shout out either “Crows!” or “Cranes!” If Cranes is called, the cranes must turn around and run back to their safe zone. The crows will run toward them, trying to tag as many cranes as they can on their way.
Whatever cranes that were tagged by crows before they reached the safe zone are now crows and must return to the center line before the next round starts, except this time playing for the other side.
When you get down to only a handful of people on one side you can declare the side with the most people the winner. Here is a cool YouTube video explaining how to play.
Many times summer camp games need to be wet. It is usually hot and if you’re going to play games outside, involving water makes the heat a little more bearable.
10 - Frozen T Shirt
Gather some camp t-shirts, wet them, and then stuff them into a zipper freezer bag and freeze them overnight.
Take them out of the freezer and challenge a campers to see who can put the shirt on the fastest. This game is also great to play as an activity in a relay race.
11 - Fishing for Marbles
Another bit of a frosty one, for this game you will need a baby pool and some marbles. Fill the pool with water and plenty of ice. Then, add the marbles. Challenge your campers to see how many marbles they can pick up with their toes and take out of the tub in a certain amount of time.
12 - Flipper Fill Up
This game could also be part of a larger relay, or just played by itself with competing teams. You will need a pair of flippers, small bucket, and large bucket for each team. Also, a large container (such as a garbage can) full of water for the teams to all draw from.
Participants put on the flippers, take the small bucket and fill it from the large container of water, hold it on top of their head, and walk it to the large bucket and pour it in. Then, still wearing their flippers, they run back to the start line and pass the small bucket and flippers to the next person in line.
The team who can fill their large bucket up first is the winner!
Sometimes you may choose to have just a few participants play a game up on stage or in front where everyone can watch. Try these entertaining games at the beginning of a meeting or to wrap up a session.
13 - Duct Tape Collector
This game is lots of fun and hilarious to watch. Choose 2 to 4 participants to either come up on stage or gather at the front of a meeting area. Place a winter beanie on each of their heads, then cover it with duct tape, sticky side out.
Throw a bunch of small lightweight items on the ground in a small area such as Q-tips, cotton balls, toothpicks, popsicle sticks, and empty toilet paper rolls. (Be creative!) The leader can call “Ready, Set, Go!” and the participants get down on the floor and try to get as many items stuck to their heads as possible.
They cannot use their hands, of course, so you may need to ask them to put their hands behind their backs depending on their age level and ability.
When the time is up (give them as much or as little time as you want, probably about 30-60 seconds) have them line up in front of the audience in their crazy hats and decide who the winner is by level of applause.
14 - Egg Russian Roulette
Made popular on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, having two adventurous campers play egg russian roulette on stage in front of the other campers would be a huge hit.
If you’ve never seen this, go to this link and enjoy.
15 - Bread Challenge
Pull up a few participants up on stage and stand them behind a table. Give each person a loaf of bread and tell them they have 90 seconds to see who can make the tallest structure out of their loaf.
Play loud and fun music and encourage the audience to cheer them on. The winner can be awarded a prize. (Or forced to take a bite out of their tower!
No matter what kind of camp you are involved with, games can be used not just for fun, but to help learn names, build relationships, help your campers work together as a team, and keep your campers cool on those hot summer days.
Try these games this summer and everyone wins!