Chance vs. Choice: Staff Decisions in a Typical Camp Day


by Kim Aycock, M.S.T.

The rules for the game of "SKUNK" are described here for use during staff training so that you can experience first hand the difference between decisions left to "chance" and the power of making good "choices." Following the details of the activity is a list of discussion points that can be used to generate a lively conversation around this topic. In addition, "SKUNK" is an exciting game to play with campers for an evening program, special event, or rainy day activity. Camp Wingate-Kirkland (Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts) came up with a unique adaptation of this game of dice and called it "Bunk Skunk." In this version, campers have to make decisions for each roll of the dice as a bunk group instead of as individuals. "SKUNK" can also be used as a leadership activity for older camper groups during CIT (or equivalent) training.

How to Play

To get started, individual players make a "SKUNK" score sheet as shown above. Each letter of "SKUNK" represents a different round of the game; play begins with the "S" column and continues through the "K" column. The object of "SKUNK" is to accumulate the greatest possible point total over five rounds. To accumulate points in a given round, a person designated to be the "SKUNK Master" for the game rolls a pair of dice (jumbo size work well). The rules for play are the same for each of the five rounds. All players start the game standing.

  • A player gets the total of the dice and records it in the "S" column, unless a "1" comes up on either die (according to the laws of probability or chance, this will eventually happen — the fun part is not knowing when!).
  • If a "1" comes up, play is over for that round, and all the player's points in that column are wiped out.
  • If a "1" does not occur on any given roll, the player may choose either to try for more points on the next roll (stay standing) or to stop and keep what he/she has accumulated (sit down until next round). "Squatting" is not allowed!
  • Once a player chooses to stop for a given round, he/she must stay seated until a new round begins (when a "1" has been rolled or all players have chosen to sit). The next letter of "SKUNK" is used to record points on the score sheet for successive rounds until five rounds have been played.
  • If "double 1's" (snake eyes) come up, all points accumulated in prior columns are wiped out as well (this only affects the second and any subsequent rounds).

Note: If a "1" or "double 1's" occur on the very first roll of a round, players can write down the value of whatever points have been rolled and continue the game as normal until the next "1" is rolled.

Variations: I have also played "SKUNK" with people sitting at tables and who remain seated throughout the game. To signify that a player has made the choice not to try for more points before the next roll of the dice is made, the score sheet can simply be turned over.

Originally published in the 2009 May/June issue of Camping Magazine.