Getting to Know You

By Jeff Merhige

Activities, activities, and more activities is how we accomplish all that we do in the camping industry! Name games, team building and get-to-know-you games allow us to get inside the group dynamics of kids, campers, adults and retreat groups.


The beauty of these tools is how adaptable they are. There is not one activity or game that cannot be modified for whatever audience you are planning to work with.

The following examples are games and activities that we use with campers, guests and specialty programs. Look at each activity and see how, if needed, you could modify them to work for you and your organization...

This one calls for nerf balls and blindfolds. Divide people in pairs. One will be the tank and the other will be the commander. Blindfold the tank and give him/her the ball. The commander may not touch the tank.

This is a directions game. The object is to have the tanks throw their balls at other tanks and eliminate them. Once you've been hit, you are out of the game. Make sure you have boundaries. A commander may shield his/her tank. When there is one tank left, switch positions.

Zip Zap Zoom
This is a name game. Look at the person on your left, (Zip) and now the person on our right (Zap). Get in the infamous circle and have one person in the middle. This person goes up to anyone and says one of the following: Zip, Zap or Zoom.

If he/she says Zip the person sitting down must name the person on his/her left. If Zap, the person on his right. If the person sitting down takes too long to answer or messes up, he/she is in the middle and the person formerly in the middle takes the chair. If the person says Zoom, everybody must change chairs.

Pass Tag
In this game the player who is it chases the player who is carrying a small ball. The player escapes "it" by passing, not throwing, the ball or other object he is carrying to the player to who is nearest him. The player who tagged while carrying the ball becomes "it".

Snatch the bacon
Players are divided into two teams and lined up facing each other 20 feet apart. The bacon, which may be any object you wish, is placed in the middle between the two teams.

Players number off, with players on both teams having the same number. The leader calls a number and the two-team members from opposite sides move forward to the bacon.

One player tries to snatch the bacon and carry it back to his goal line without being touched by his opponent. If he is successful, he gains two points for his team; if he is touched by his opponent, the other team gains one point. The first team gaining ten points wins.

I Like People Who…
Have everyone sit in a circle. Each participant must have a seat (chair, carpet square, etc.). Have one-person stand up and go to the middle; take that person's seat away from the circle so that there are fewer seats than players.

The person in the middle begins a statement with "I like people who…" and fills in the rest with whatever he wants (such as have shoes on, like ice cream, have a brother, etc.).

All of those in the circle who this statement includes must get up and move to another seat. The person left standing goes to the middle and begins again.

Green Magic
This activity requires two people who have spoken ahead of time and are in cahoots. One person is the Mind Reader and the other is his partner. The Mind Reader is asked to leave the area and the group decides on an object that the Mind Reader must guess.

When the mind reader returns his partner names off several objects in the area and asks the Mind Reader if something that they point to is it. The answer is always no until just after the partner points to an object that is green or a person who is wearing mostly green.

The object that is pointed to just after the green one is always it. The Mind Reader and his partner can make up many variations to this activity by deciding ahead of time what the cue object is like (yellow, black, orange, whatever, meaning the name of the game will change accordingly).

Monster Trucks & Harley Bikes
Two end lines are designated at either end of a long playing field. Everyone except for the person or persons who are "it" line up on one line ready to race as Harley Bikes to the other side of the field and into safety past the opposite line. (Have them practice their Harley Bike noises before the game begins.)

The person who is "it" is the Monster Truck who gives the starting signal, "Monster Trucks on the rampage!"

When the signal is given all Harley Bikes race for the other end of the field while the Monster Trucks try to crash (tag) the Harley Bike.

If a Harley Bike is crushed it must sit down on the playing field and it becomes a crippling object in the path of the Harley Bikes.

The next time a Harley Bike makes its run, the crippled Harley Bike may reach out and tag the runner (as long as the tagger is sitting and both cheeks are on the ground). If tagged the Harley Bike also becomes crushed.

The untagged Harley Bikes who made it safely past the line wait for the signal, "Monster Trucks on the rampage" to ride back to the other end of the field where they started. This continues until there is only one unharmed Bike left. That unharmed Bike becomes the new Monster Truck and the game begins again.

Name Game
Example: "My name is Alfredo and I am on a trip to Spain. I am taking an Angora sweater and a sock." First and second letters must match, Alfredo/Angora, and Spain/Sock.

Spirit Chief
Pick one person to be chief. Blindfold the chief. Group forms a circle around the chief. A stick or something is placed in front of him/her to guard, without touching.

People take turns in the circle or work together to steal the magic stick. If the chief touches them they must sit beside him/her and using only their eyes and voice, warn the chief of approaching predators. The person who steals the spirit stick is the new chief.

Mini Cabin Dutch Auction
Make a list of articles. Have the campers or staff do in pairs or individually. Give them five minutes to get the "merchandise" together. Then call out an article. Those with the article get pre-assigned points for the article. The harder-to-find articles should be worth more points.

Jeff Merhige is the Executive Director of YMCA Camp Widjiwagan in Nashville Tenn. Reach him at