posted on Jun 24 2021
At camp, it’s always important to have a trick up your sleeve for entertaining kids on the fly. As a theater company that has been placing staff at camps nationwide for over 10 years, mainstages wants to ensure that our staff is prepared for anything. So if you’re a camp counselor or facilitator working with kids this summer, we have ideas for you!
The following activities are perfect for those transitions when you need to keep everyone occupied, or those tough sessions when every game you’ve planned flops. We’ve even sprinkled in some COVID-19 safe games and ideas.
The mainstages Action Zone is all about BIG, FUN, OUTDOOR activities that can be played with groups! Our goal is to get campers up and moving around, enjoying the fresh summer air, and bonding with their counselors and fellow campers, as well as maximizing the fun while following social safety guidelines. Featuring a mix of small and full group games, the mainstages Action Zone is fun for campers of all ages!
Each of the games below can easily be taught to large groups of campers who will play them in teams. These are mostly intended to be played outside in a big field, but can also be played in an auditorium or any large space where groups can spread out.
We hope that these activities will be helpful for you this summer! Share it with other fellow facilitators, and send us your own twists—the best about the activities below is that they’re highly adaptable to suit you and your campers. Most of all, have fun!
While campers may be able to interact with others in their groups closely, there is a chance there will be certain rules that prevent them from being close to counselors or doing certain things with members of their group. This list will help to ensure that you are being as safe as possible:
Hello [Campers, Group/Bunk Names], and welcome to the Action Zone!! These games are all about WORKING TOGETHER, and HAVING FUN! But before we get started, we need to get our energy up! Let’s get that started with a repeat after me! When I say “ACTION” you say “ZONE” - remember to say it the EXACT same way I do!
The Facilitator may say “Action” in different, silly ways or with gestures, that the campers are expected to repeat when they say “Zone.”
After they hear “3-2-1 ZONES,” the campers run to their “Zones” with their group, where they will complete the activities from. These may be delineated by field paint, cones, flags, or anything else you have at your disposal!
Ideal # of Participants: 8 from each team
All but one participant line up behind their team’s place marker and are identified as the tossers. The single participant stands across from their team holding the bucket and is identified as the catcher. The catcher may move the bucket around but should plant their feet. When the host says “Go,” tossers begin sailing the rubber chickens through the air to get it in the “catcher’s” bucket. After a tosser makes a throwing attempt, whether they get it in or not, they go to the end of their line. The team that catches the most chickens in one minute, will receive the points. If a tie occurs, ad 15-30 more seconds of time. Have a staff member behind the “catchers” to keep score.
Ideal # of Participants: 6-12 from each team
Members of each team line up single file behind their place marker. On the Host’s “Go” the participants in front of the line pick up their ball and pass it over their head to the teammate behind them. That participant then passes it under and through their legs to the teammate behind them. The pattern, over-under, is repeated down the line. Once the last person in line receives the ball, they run to the front of the line and begin the patter again. Once the original starter returns to the front, the pattern is complete and the team to finish first wins. Teams should sit when done to identify completion.
Ideal # of Participants: 8- 12 from each team
Each team creates a circle, holding hands, and is provided with one hula-hoop. The host creates a starting position by placing the hula-hoop over two conjoining hands. When the host says “go”, participants try and complete two (2) revolutions of the hoop around their circle. The challenge is never letting go of hands, contorting the body, and using teamwork to move the hoop around. The first team to complete the revolutions, sit to identify completion, and wins the points.
Ideal # of Participants: 6 per team
Participants line up behind their respective starting marker. The first participant in line stands ready with their ball at their feet. On the Host’s “Go” the first participant will pick up the ball and place it between their knees/thighs and will hop, walk, jump down the “track” and around their bucket. When the participant returns to the starting position, they give the ball to the next participant in line and go to the end of the line and sit. The first team to have all members complete the track and be seated will win the points for their team.
*ideal for a counselor challenge
Ideal # of Participants: 2 per team
At the start, the two participants from each team sit on their start marker with a ball between their backs. On the Host’s “Go” each team will link arms and try to get to a standing position with the ball between their backs. Once standing they must move down the “track” and around their cone and back to the start. If they drop the ball they must start over. The first team to complete the task will win points for their team.
*ideal for participants 8 and up
Ideal # of Participants: 5 or 6 per team
Participants line up behind their start marker. On the Host’s “Go” the first participant gets down on their hands and knees and pushes their ball down the “track” and around their cone using only their nose and head. The first team to have each member complete the task and sit down will win points for their team.
*great counselor challenge
If you would rather campers don’t use their “head or nose” to push the ball due to COVID regulations, you can change it up, and have them use their hands, elbows, knuckles, feet, or something else!
Ideal # of Participants: 8 per team
One participant kneels approx. 10-15 ft from their teammates and holds their bucket atop their head. The other participants line up behind their marker and are each handed a ping-pong ball. On the Hosts’ “GO!” participants must bounce the ball at least once in order to get it in their bucket. Once the participant has made an attempt they must go to the end of the line. The ‘catching’ participants may move their upper body but must plant their knees. Have counselors keep score and fetch the ping pong balls. The team that catches the most balls in their bucket in one minute wins the points for their team.
*for younger participants, have a counselor hold the bucket atop their head
Ideal # of Participants: 8 per team
Participants line up behind their start marker. One participant is to stand 10-15 ft opposite their team holding a hula-hoop to one side. The participant in the front of the line is handed a chicken. On the Host’s “Go!”, the first participant will ‘hike’ the chicken through their legs and through their team's hoop. Have counselors keep score and fetch chickens. Once the participant has made an attempt, they must go to the end of their line. The team with the most chickens through the hoop in one minute will win the points.
These games require less touch and closeness than others, or can easily be adapted to be so.
Ideal # of Participants: No max number of participants
With popular music and mega-summer hits, teams are encouraged to stand up and dance like there is no tomorrow! Teams with the "best," "most creative" and "most dancers dancing" will win the points. Counselors act as "judges" and award points based on who "broke it down" the best!
Ideal # of Participants: No Max number of participants
All teams are given a category (dog breeds, clothing brands, breakfast cereals, Disney movies, etc). In turn, each team has a chance to name an item relating to that category. Be quick, creative and make sure you are listening- hesitation, repeated or incorrect answers eliminate your team from contention. Last team standing takes glory AND the points!
Ideal # of Participants: As many people as are in the word you are having them spell (5-10, depending on age and word difficulty)
Participants are each handed a card with a letter on it. When time starts, participants "scramble" to place themselves (and their card) in the correct order to spell the mystery word. Mystery Words are varied for age groups including 3 letter words up to 8 letter words.
Ideal # of Participants: 1-3 from each team
Participants gather around and get the “charade clue” from the Host. On the Host’s “GO,” participants run to their team area and begin miming the clue without using words. The first to hear the correct response and run back to tag the Host’s hand wins the points for their team.
Example Words: Easy- House, Boat, Swimming, Tree, Bicycle, Ice- Cream; Hard- Astronaut, Zip-Line, Moon, Giant, Alligator
* for younger participants, have counselors charade for them.
This game does not require any touching or closeness. If need be, you can adapt this game so that students are distanced from each other without changing the activity at all!
Ideal # of Participants: 5 from each team
Lay a complete set of puzzle pieces, scattered and faced down, in front of each team. On the Host’s “GO,” the teams will turn over their pieces and begin to put the puzzle together. The first team to complete their scramble and slap the hand of the host wins the points.
*have follow-up questions about celebrity for extra points (if you need to get the scores closer)
Can be with items or just with place markers/field paint!
Using poly spots, field paint, or something else (get creative!), create a course that students have to pass through without touching the ground (“the FLOOR is LAVA” so you don’t want to touch it.)
The shark(s) stands in the middle of the field, the minnows start on one end, and the minnows walk slowly towards the other side. Whenever they like, the shark (or sharks) can say “Shark attack!” Right away, the minnows must run to the opposite side without being tagged. If they are tagged, they become “seaweed” (they sit down where they were tagged on the “ocean floor”
Everyone has to stay completely still – they can move when the “Museum curator” is not looking, but if they get caught moving, they are out!
Turning their whole bodies into these things, not just their hands!
Using field paint for the board and bodies as the X’s and O’s - or something else. Get creative!
Campers form two lines on opposite ends of the field. One side is “Coke” and the other is “Pepsi”. Either the facilitator or a camper who has been given the role, calls out “Coke” or “Pepsi,” and the called side runs to the other side and sits on the knee of their partner as fast as they can.
posted on Jun 24 2021
Jessica Ashleigh Pomeroy is an NYC based director, producer, performer and teaching artist. She holds a BFA in Dramatic Arts with a Concentration in Directing from The New School for Drama. Jessica grew up in Connecticut, where she first discovered her love of theatre, a love that only grew as she got older, and that she is passionate about sharing with young people. Jessica looks to bring professional level performance training to young performers, and seeks to do just that through her training and experience as a singer, actor and director.