As camp time gets ever closer (wasn't it just yesterday that we had closing ceremonies?) it's time to jumpstart camp and get the ideas flowing.
Continuing from last month's column, and the January Programming Ideas article, here are some more ideas to get campers and staff going for the season.
Keep sending your ideas into Camp Business so that we can share them and give every camp great ideas. What comes around goes around! See "You Don't Say! (link below) for another great icebreaker from Chuck Rowe, Territorial Boys Work, Camping, and Community Center Consultant Central Territory, The Salvation Army. Thanks, Chuck!
General stretching: Just stretch! Starting from the toes and working your way to the head is usually a good idea. Do not roll the head all the way around –- just side-to-side.
Stretch Wave: Instructor starts with a stretch, then the person next to them stretches in the same manner, then the next, and so on, creating a wave of sorts. When the stretch returns to the instructor, the person next to them tries a new stretch and the madness continues.
Animal Stretch: Pick you favorite animal… How do they stretch? Now simulate. Everyone can take turns!
Stretch Twister: In pairs, play a game of stretch twister. Pick appropriate parts of your body for the pairs to link up with. Examples include elbow-to-elbow, toe-to-toe, hip-to-hip, hip to elbow, toe to hand... you get the idea.
Story Stretch: Make up a story, and stretch to it; simple as that. For example, "I woke up this morning and reached for the remote" (simulate reaching for the remote), then the stretch and story is taken over by someone new.
Stork Stretch: Stand in a circle. While holding the shoulder of the friend next to you, lift you right leg and place it on the thigh of the person next to you. Now try your left.
Mirror Stretch: Stand face to face. Choose one person to be the mirror, and one to be the "real" person. Now pick a situation (like waking up in the morning or going to the store) and mirror each other. Switch roles.
Competition Stretch: Toe to toe, palm to palm. Using slow moves, one tries to "stretch" the other off balance. When a person moves their foot, the game is over.
Jump This (invisible jump rope): Using your imagination, have your group jump rope! Now get creative and have two people swing the rope and two jumping. How about the whole group? Have fun.
Flip Stretch (twist the arms): Standing back to back, holding hands, bring one side of your hands over your head, take your other pair inside the hands that are swinging over your head, then with the original hands, touch your toes. Repeat with the other side. I hope you watched this one!
Toe Touch Stretch: Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, toe-to-toe, approximately shoulder width apart, raise your right hand. Wave to the person across the circle. Now bend over and touch the left toe of the person to your right. Now try the right toe of the person on the right. Make some fun grunting sounds! Now repeat with the person on your left.
The Sunflower Stretch: Simulating the growth of a sunflower from when it was just a seed, start in a ball on the ground, now work your way to a standing position with your arms extended to the sun. Do this slowly in a "yoga" style.
Champagne Stretch: Start with the corkscrew. Use you imagination (please be appropriate). Now simulate the bubbles. And POP!!! Bubble over the edge. Use partners for added fun.
Counterbalance: Pair up. Holding hands, face-to-face, toe-to-toe, counter each other's weight to a sitting position. Now try to get back up. Please keep safety in mind. Try back-to-back by linking arms and going to the ground to your bottom. Try to get back up. Have one pair find another pair for four. Four find four and so on.
Name Twist: Stand in two even groups forming two circles, one facing out, one facing in (looks like a two ring bullseye).
Introduce yourselves, and talk about a topic of the facilitator's choosing. When done, the outside group twists one person to the left, introduces themselves and talks about a different topic. Continue until all people are visited.
Name Exchange: Start by greeting someone in your group ("Hello, my name is Joe," "Hello, my name is Sue"). Now Joe is Sue and Sue is Joe, they go to greet another new person and exchange names with them. The goal is to find your original name. Once you have found your name, remove yourself from the chaos!
Name Roulette: Stand in two circles right next to each other. Call out "clockwise" or "counterclockwise." The groups hold hands and turn in that direction. Yell STOP! The two people back-to-back turn and face each other –- the first one who can name the other, steals that person to their team. Tons of fun!
Peek-A-Who: Use a tarp or sheet you cannot see through. Very similar to Name Roulette, except each team hides behind a tarp. Choose one person to put their nose near the middle of the tarp. The facilitator and another tarp holder counts "one, two, three" and drops the tarp. The first person that can name the other, again steals them to the other side.
Wampum Tag: Use a wampum stick (a soft foam sword or noodle). Sitting in a circle, toe to toe, one person calls out somebody’s name. The person with the wampum stick in the middle tries to tag the feet of that person called before that person calls out another name. If tagged, switch positions. Lots of fast fun!
Name Toss: Very similar to Group Juggle. The facilitator starts by tossing himself (relatively speaking), across the circle to meet another person. That person follows up by tossing their person to another, and so on. Mix it up by tossing yourself while the pattern is halfway complete. Madness! Try introducing saying your name backwards!
Is it time yet? People are sitting together with the same leg crossed. Question is continually asked, "Is it time yet?" "No, not yet." Finally, the question is asked and it is time so everyone switches to crossing the other leg.
Who Sneezed? Line of people trying to be quiet and sneaky. Someone sneezes and the leader wrongly accuses the person behind her. It is denied but the person is gotten rid of anyway. After doing this several times, the person who sneezes is confronted and admits sneezing where upon the leader says, "God Bless you."
Mommy Mommy! A cake mix commercial is being filmed and the director sets the scene for the audience. After each take something is wrong -- not enough emotion, too slow, too fast, too sad, and so on. So the director wants it redone, faster, slower, happier, sadder, whatever, with the cast taking his instructions to the extreme.
Suckers on a Line: You are trying to telephone your friend to tell him about your fishing trip but the reception is not very good. After each attempt to place the call someone is picked from the audience to stand with their arms in the air as if holding up the telephone lines. After several attempts, and several audience assistants later, the reception is fine and the friend explains the fishing wasn't very good. All he got was a few suckers on his line (Yuk Yuk).
Echo Valley: It is explained how we get really unusual echoes here and you will prove it. Three people scatter around out of sight of the audience. The announcer yells something and each hidden person repeats it, simulating an echo. Finally, after several successful demonstrations the announcer yells out, "Baloney!" but it is only echoed twice, so another phrase is tried such as, "Your school is the greatest!" This is echoed twice and the third person echoes, "Baloney!"
Infantry: People run in excitably saying the infantry is coming. After several times someone comes in with a small tree and proclaims the infant tree is here.
Important Papers: A king is on the throne asking for important papers. A loyal subject brings in a newspaper. Not it. Next time a map is brought. Not it. Next some sandpaper. Not it. Each time the king is more impatient. Finally a paper bag is brought in. The King looks in smiles, pulls out a roll of toilet paper and runs off.
The Reporter: A newspaper reporter is going to jump off a bridge because she has failed to get a good story. Just before jumping she is stopped by someone with another sad story who decides to join her. After being stopped, then joined by four or five people, they all jump except the reporter who yells, "I've got my story!"
The Clothing Store: Someone walks by in some garish dress and is stopped and asked where the beautiful garment came from. The reply is J.C. Penny. After several such encounters, each time it being a different article of clothing, someone wrapped in only a towel comes in and introduces himself as J.C. Penny.
Jeff Merhige is the executive director of YMCA Camp Kern, Dayton YMCA, Dayton, Ohio.