Whether you are camping with other adults or trying to entertain a group of kids outdoors, color-war-style games are always popular. To play color-war games, you must divide the group into two or more equally matched teams. Each team chooses a color and dons appropriate ribbons, armbands or bandanas to signify their team allegiances. While you can adapt almost any team-oriented game or sport to a color-war style of game play, capture the flag, scavenger hunts, relay races and squirt-gun battles work exceptionally well.
Capture the Flag
Capture the flag requires a large field that you can divide into two halves using a rope or an imaginary line connecting two landmarks. Each team takes up position on opposite halves of the field and guards the other team’s flag, which sits near the back boundary on their own side of the field. For example, the red team would patrol their half of the field and guard the blue team’s flag.
While on their own side of the field, players are safe, but when they are on the opposing team’s half, they may be tagged, at which time they must go to jail, which is usually deep in enemy territory. To escape jail, a teammate must cross into enemy territory and tag the jailed teammate. The two then get a free walk back to their own side. To win, one of a team’s players must penetrate enemy territory, evade the tags of competitors, capture their own team’s flag and return it to their own side of the field.
To set up a scavenger hunt, you must make a list of several items that players must observe, document or collect. For example, a list for young scouts on a forest hike may include a shiny rock, a compound leaf and an acorn. Adults may prefer finding more obscure items or hard-to-find things, such as shed snakeskins, bird nests or deer tracks. You can designate the winner as the team to check off the most items on their list in a given length of time or the first team to complete the entire list. Be respectful of the habitat while playing, avoid harming any living creatures or plants in the course of your activities, and return any inanimate items you collected to where you found them at the completion of the game.
Most relay races feature the same basic setup: Two teams line up in parallel rows; the first participant completes some task and then moves to the back of the line, at which time the line’s new leader begins the task. The game continues in this fashion until all players on one team complete the task, or one team attains a predetermined goal. Because the premise is simple, the fun must come from the designated tasks participants must complete.
In the simplest form, a relay race is a sprint from a starting point to a designated point and back to the end of the line. While this may be fun for young children or running enthusiasts, others may prefer sillier challenges. Participants may be required to ferry water from one bucket to another, equipped with only a teaspoon, sponge or plastic cup held atop their head. Alternatively, they may be tasked with juggling a soccer ball, spinning a basketball on their finger or balancing a bat on their head while they travel a predetermined distance.
The goal of a squirt-gun battle is simple: Drench the opposing team and try to stay dry. If you like, you can try to run a proper game, such that players can knock each other out of the game with an accurate shot. However, the nature of squirt-gun battles invites chaos, luring children – both the actual and full-grown varieties – down the path toward water-drenched mayhem, and quickly quashing your pursuit of an organized game. Have participants wear goggles to protect their eyes and consider establishing a “mercy” word for sensitive players. If you have the budget, assets, and will to do so, you can swap out the squirt guns for paintball markers.
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