Archive for August 2013

Camp Story: Full Life

There was this kid in my bunk last summer, let’s call him Johnny. Well he was really into video games. His favorite video game was Half Life. This was also Johnny’s first summer at camp, so he obviously didn’t know anyone.

One day, he was telling me about how he loved to play Half Life. I thought nothing of it, but I humored him and talked to him about it. A few days later he was having a bad day. He’d get to camp really early, and before any of the counselors in our bunk got to camp, some of the kids were making fun of him. When I got to camp I saw him sitting at our bunk table crying. So I started talking to him. He told me what happened and I told him I’d deal with it. Then I started to try cheering him up. I remembered he told me his favorite game was Half Life. Well to be creative, I told him I created a game called Full Life. At first he didn’t believe me, but I kept telling him I really did create that game. (In reality I didn’t.) He got really into it and started talking to me all about it. It was like the sadness he just went through went away. He had a big smile on his face and he was pretty happy. The rest of the day he was in a good mood. I was just glad I could help him feel better on a day that started off pretty badly for him.

For the rest of the summer, we’d talk about Full Life. I’d tell him that there were really 20 games in the series, and that the newest one was based right at our camp. He loved that. Every day he’d come in and tell me how he beat another level of Full Life. He had a good imagination I guess. I’m sure he knew the game was fake, but I think he had a good time making up stories about how he beat a level and whatnot. So I played along. It was our little thing for the rest of the summer no one else understood.

On the last day of camp I got a note from his parents with my tip. None of the other counselors in the bunk got a note. It said that they wanted to thank me for helping him have a good summer. They said he was nervous before the first day of camp, but after a few days (probably after I told him about Full Life) he’d come home and tell about how good his day was. Apparently he mentioned my name a lot as well. That was really nice, I thought. I was glad I could help him have a good first summer at camp. I’m hoping he comes back next summer so I can talk to him again.

The Fine Art of Game Leadership

Games are more than fun: they can be played to accomplish many goals.  Games can help children get acquainted easily and enjoy being together. Games can meet the needs of the whole group and individuals at the same time. For example, games give children a chance to:

• Be active and noisy

• Learn teamwork and fair play

• Learn to win, loose or draw good – naturedly

• Be both a leader and a follower

Games can present new information or skill in an attractive way. Games can help children appreciate diversity. Games help children learn the importance of cooperation.

Basic Rules of Thumb for Good Game Leadership

1. Keep the game snappy and vigorous.

2. ALWAYS end the game BEFORE it goes dead.

3. Select the game with the abilities of the group in mind.

4. Know the game your self before trying to teach it.

5. Make sure that everyone understands the basic rules of the game, however, teach only the minimum essentials.

6. Have all your game equipment ready and be sure the play area is safe and adequate.

7. Get the attention of the group before trying to explain the game. Explain the game with the children near you. Yelling to the outfield or shouting about the noise of a group will only result in confusion and a sore throat.

8. Get the play started as soon as possible. Refine later.

9. Alternate high activity games with quieter games.

10. Stress cooperative games.


Remember, you are teaching individuals…not just a game. Decisions must be fair and rules must be enforced.

You’ve heard it before but it is most important aspect of playing a game: “It’s not who wins or loses that really counts, but how the game was played.”

Plan Ahead

A game period should be well-planned, just like anything else you do in a camp setting. Nothing will kill a game faster than poor planning.