A dive into a cold lake, a dip in the pool and a game of Marco Polo provide an opportunity to cool off on warm days. On an ordinary camp day, they are often the highlight.
However, campers can’t stay in the pool all the time. Counselors are frequently challenged to find other ways to keep kids cool.
In creating some other activities involving water that can be played within a small cabin group or between several small groups, and can even be adapted for a whole camp evening activity, consider the following:
• Make games appealing to younger campers and for individual cabin groups.
• Choose a place close to a water supply, so filling water buckets will not be a problem.
• Do not use breakable containers.
• Stress cooperation between team members and having fun, rather than winning and losing.
• Have cold water available to drink during and after games.
• Have campers wear bathing suits and bring a towel. Campers will get wet!
Prior to the game, fill balloons with water. You will need two or three per camper. Line the campers up in two lines facing each other. Each person chooses a partner in the opposite line, and high-fives his or her partner. Give each camper in one line a balloon. The goal of the game is to toss the balloon back and forth without breaking it. The pair that still has their balloon at the end wins. Campers start by standing about a foot apart and periodically are told to move further back. Replace broken balloons until you run out. Continue until only one pair still has a balloon. The group picks up all pieces of balloons at the end of the game.
Supplies: Balloons, water
Find The Marbles
Fill a small wading pool or a low-sided tub with water and a generous squirt of dishwashing soap. Drop about two-dozen marbles of different sizes in the bottom of the pool. Let four to six campers sit around the pool/tub and use their toes to retrieve marbles from the pool/tub. Keep track of how many marbles each camper finds. Campers not hunting for marbles can cheer the others.
Supplies: Small wading pool or low-sided tub, marbles, dishwashing soap
Make A Splash
This is a variation of Duck, Duck, Goose. Campers sit in a circle. Fill a large bucket with water, and place it near the circle. Choose one camper to be “It” and give him or her a large cup. “It” fills the cup with water and walks outside the circle saying, "Splish, Splish," passing behind each child. “It” says, "Splash" and pours the cup of water over a camper in the circle. That person then chases the camper with the cup. Whoever reaches the empty place in the circle first sits down, and the other person becomes “It.” Play continues as long as the water lasts and campers remain involved.
Supplies: Bucket of water, large plastic cup
Run Through A Sprinkler
This is an old¬-fashioned type of activity that younger campers still enjoy--especially if the sprinkler has plenty of spouts.
Supplies: Hose, sprinkler
This game can be played with any number of campers. Line them up in relay formation with an equal number on each team. Give the second person in each line a bucket of water and a cup. The first person in each line takes 10 to 12 steps forward, and then turns around to face the team. Have the second person in line fill the cup from the bucket and run to the first camper with the cupful of water. Explain that #2 camper will hand the cup of water to #1 camper, turn to one side, stick one arm in the air, and yell, “Typhoon!” At that point, #1 will throw the water in the face of #2 camper. The wet camper now takes #1’s place, and #1 runs back to the head of the line with the cup, gives the cup to the next camper in line, and goes to the rear of the line. Continue playing until the bucket is empty. The team who finishes first, wins.
Supplies: Buckets of water, cups
Over And Under The Falls
Campers remain in relay formation, allowing them to change order if they choose. Give the first person in each line a bucket of water and a sponge; give the last person an empty cup. Explain that the first person in each line will soak the sponge in water then will hand the sponge over his or her head to the second person in line. That person will then pass the sponge through the legs to the person behind. This over-and-under action continues alternately until the sponge reaches the last camper in line. The last camper will wring the water from the sponge into the cup and hand the cup to the camper in front of him or her. The last person will then run to the front of the line with the sponge and repeat the process. The action continues until one team has a full cup of water and wins.
Supplies: Buckets of water, cups, sponges
Campers remain in relay formation, allowing them to change order if they choose. Give each team a bucket of water, an empty bucket and a plastic sand pail with holes in the bottom (the Holy Pail). The first person in line dips the sand pail into the bucket of water, runs to the end of the line, and dumps the remaining water into the empty bucket. That person runs back to the beginning of the line and hands the Holy Pail to the next person. This runner repeats the process. Continue until one team fills the empty bucket or has the most water in the bucket after everyone on the team has a turn.
Supplies: Buckets of water, empty buckets, plastic sand pails with holes in the bottom (or #10 cans or paper cups with holes punched in the bottom)
Arm Pit And Knee Race
Campers remain in relay formation, allowing them to change order if they choose. Give each team a bucket of water and three foam balls. Place an orange marker cone about 10 feet in front of each team. One by one, team members pull the foam balls out of the water, place one between their knees and one under each arm. Tell them they are to keep the balls in place and to hop or jump to one of the cones, move around the cone, and hurry back to their lines. Once back to the start, players put the balls back into the water for the next runner. A camper who drops any of the balls during the race must replace them before continuing. Repeat this until all the teams have finished.
Supplies: Buckets of water, small foam balls, cones or another goal marker
Race For Water
Campers remain in relay formation, allowing them to change order if they choose. Give each team a bucket of water, a cup and a two-liter bottle. The first person in line on each team lies down, places the empty two-liter bottle on his or her forehead and holds it steady with both hands. The second person fills up a cup from the water bucket, carries the cup of water to the teammate lying on the ground, and pours the water into the two-liter bottle. The two players then trade places. The game is over when each team member has both held the bottle and poured water into the bottle. The team who gets the most water in its bottle wins.
Supplies: Large cups, empty two-liter bottles, buckets of water
Campers remain in relay formation, allowing them to change order if they choose. Put a two-gallon milk jug about 10 feet in front of each team. Give each team a bucket or bowl of water, a tablespoon and a paper or plastic cup. The first member of each team uses the spoon to put as much water as he or she thinks can be carried without spilling into the measuring cup. One by one, each team member carries the measuring cup to the team’s milk jug, and pours it into the jug. If any of the water spills on the way, the camper will have to return to the team and take one spoonful out of the cup. When everyone has a turn, stop playing, and measure the water each team put into the milk jug. The team with the most water wins.
Supplies: Two-gallon milk jugs, tablespoons, plastic or paper cups (all the same size)
Nancy Ferguson is an Outdoor Ministries consultant, specializing in the creation of program resources for faith-based camps. She is the author of several books, including Training Staff to be Spiritual Leaders. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org