Campers Vs. Staff Members

By Jessica Lippe

In the camp world, there are two conflicting philosophies on games. Is competition healthy, or should everyone be a winner?

No matter where one stands on the issue, pitting campers against staff members will provide healthy competition, as well as a team victory when campers win.

Getting staff members involved in games is an ideal way to demonstrate how to be role models. They can show campers how to be active and how to use teamwork, and when the staff inevitably loses, how to be good sports.

Last spring, I was faced with the challenge of creating games that would not only get staff members involved, but would also be unique and exciting. Here are a few of the games played at Camp Rivercrest last summer.

Running With The Bulls
This combination of Freeze Tag and Capture The Flag is the ultimate competition between campers and staffers! Prior to the game, set up boundaries on a playing field, creating a “bull corral” that can be a simple, makeshift rope fence.

Every staff member needs a “tail.” Those with flag-football gear can use that, but at Rivercrest, we resorted to making fabric tails that were tucked into the waistband.

Staff members are the “bulls,” and have to wait inside the “corral” while instructions are given to the campers. Once the bulls are released, staff members chase campers and try to tag them.

Once a camper is tagged, he or she has to sit down until tagged by another camper, just like in freeze tag. If, however, a camper pulls the tail off of a bull, that bull has to return to the corral for the rest of the round.

This is a high-energy game that is played until all of the bulls have had their tails pulled. (There is a rare chance that the game can end if the bulls tag all of the campers, but this has yet to happen for us!)

Several rounds can be played at a time, and some campers can even be selected to be bulls for one of the rounds!

Peanut Butter Sandwich
This is not only a memorable game, but a great way to dispose of expiring food! Select one staff member from each team to wear a large garbage bag like a poncho. Position staff members about 15 feet in front of their teams and set out jars of peanut butter and a few bags of sliced bread.

(Naturally, if there is someone with a peanut allergy or the camp is peanut-free, peanut butter can be replaced with a product of similar consistency and stickiness.)

Line the teams up, relay-style, and on the word “go,” the first person from each team runs to that team’s garbage bag-clad staff member, opens the bread bag and peanut butter container, and uses his or her hands to spread the peanut butter on the bread and stick it to the staffer’s garbage bag.

That player then runs back to the rest of the team and the game continues with each person sticking another piece of bread onto the staff member.

In a twist of events, when the game director announces there are only 30 seconds left, the staffers can run around, with team members trying to attach the last few pieces of bread. Whichever team has the most bread stuck to their staff member is the winner.

Be sure to allow for time to clean up after this game.

The Great Jungle Fire
Staff members stand about 15 feet away from teams lined up relay-style. Put a bucket of water in front of each staff member. Make sure all buckets are filled to an equal level.

Give each team one cup, and instruct the members to take that cup, dip it in the water bucket, and then throw the water at their staff member. (At Camp Rivercrest, we found it best to blindfold the staff so they can’t dodge the water!)

The goal is to completely empty the water bucket. What is the catch? This is not a running relay! Each team member is assigned a different jungle animal that they have to impersonate.

For example, the first person has to slither like a snake, the second has to crawl like an alligator, the third has to flap arms like a bird, etc. Award the team that empties the water bucket first, and also award the driest staff member!

Jessica Lippe was given the “Games Creating Genius” award at Camp Rivercrest in Fremont, Neb. Reach her at