As you have heard time and time again, the amount of preparation and planning you put into a retreat, the more successful it will end up being. Most planners have scheduled meals and devotional groups but over look recreation. Recreation is much more than shooting hoops or running laps! The great outdoors is an ideal location for many games. Not only do you enjoy the fresh air and scenic views, but you make lasting memories for all who attend your retreat. You can turn an empty field into recreation easily with a few cones and some great ideas.
Games don’t have to be expensive or overly complicated, they just require some research and planning. The same basic activities can get stale summer after summer. Here are some ideas to spice up your recreation schedule:
Barn Yard Hunt
How to Play: Hide 4 different sets of objects in a play area (field, woods, etc), such as pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. Use larger objects for younger children or more difficult terrain.
Make four teams and assign a team leader to each (or let the group decide). Each team is assigned a barnyard animal and must make that sound. Examples include: pig, chicken, duck, cow, etc. Each group is then assigned one object (ducks get the pennies, etc).
Start the game by sending the teams out into the play area to find their object. The players can spread out and look independently, but only the LEADER can pick up the object.
When someone from the team finds their object, they begin to make their team sound, until the leader comes over to collect the object. It is usually helpful for players from the same team to make their sound together to ensure that the leader hears them over the other teams.
The team with the most collected objects at the end of a designated time period wins!
How to Play: Hand any number of clothes-pins to all the kids (the more clothes-pins everyone starts with, the longer the game lasts. I suggest 3-5 and have them pin them to their shirt sleeves, hems, pockets, etc.
Then have them all scatter on the playing field. On the signal, everyone runs around snatching clothes-pins from one another, kneeling down to attach their newly acquired prizes.
At the end of the game (usually a time-limit), the one with the most closes-pins wins!
Dragons, Princesses, and Knights
How to Play: Divide campers into two teams.
Campers from two lines at opposite ends of the playing area, and march toward each other saying “We’re going to war! We’re going to win!” until they reach the center of the field. The counselor in charge tells them to “HALT!” Each player should be facing a player of the other team. On the count of three, the campers perform one of three motions (the whole team doing the SAME motion):
DRAGON (arms raised above head, growling)
PRINCESS (arms low at side like you’re twirling a skirt, saying “oOOOOooOOO” in a girly voice)
KNIGHT (arms held in front like you are gripping a sword)
Dragons beat Princesses
Knights beat Dragons
Princesses beat Knights
The team that wins chases the losing team back to their starting position (find some way to make this area). If a losing team member is tagged, they join the other team and the whole process starts over.
How to Play: This game is definitely for the OUTDOORS. It works best with really, really large groups (100+). Here’s how you play.
Set up a predetermined amount of “stations” (8-12 depending on the size of your group). At each station, place an adult leader.
Next, assign 5-10 of your leaders/interns/adults to be the “bonkers.” They are given a pair of pantyhose with flour packed in it (or a sock). All bonkers must also have a black sharpie. Also, choose 5-10 “nurses” for the game. Give each of them a black sharpie as well.
Now, dismiss your station leaders, your bonkers, and your nurses to go take their positions on the field. Obviously, the station leaders will need to be at their stations, but the bonkers and nurses spread out anywhere.
You’re almost ready to play. Give every student a piece of paper with the number of stations on it (1, 2, 3, etc.) You can also give them the location of the stations if you want, on a map. Tell them that their object is to make it to every station (in any order of their choosing) and get checked off. They must work alone – there are no teams – and when their sheet is completely checked off, they must race back to an assigned location to meet the team leader. First one back wins.
Here’s where it gets tricky. The bonkers will be out there trying to hit them with their socks/hose filled with flour. If the student gets hit, he must stop where he’s at. The bonker will then draw a short line on his arm. (The bonker is then free to go chase someone else.) The student must stay where he’s at,, and call for a nurse to come “heal” him. The nurse “heals” the student by drawing a perpendicular line across the one drawn by the bonker…making an X.
Finally, when a student gets to the station, the station leader can ask them to do something weird in order to get checked off. The station leader might ask them to sing a song, tell a joke, do 5 pushups, etc. They may ask the student to do nothing at all…it just depends on how vindictive the station leaders are!
When everyone understands how the game is played, say “go!’