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Five Factors to Consider When Developing Games for Your Staff Training
From an early age, game-play has a positive effect on group dynamics. For many camp directors, getting messages, concepts, and values across to your staff in a creative and efficient way is extremely challenging. There are numerous legal issues that must be covered during staff training, and significant cultural, moral, and ethical ideas must be discussed. Learning through hands-on experiences leaves a more indelible impression. Having fun and gaining valuable lessons may be accomplished simultaneously without staff realizing they are actually learning.
There are five factors you should consider when developing games for staff training:
Fun Games that Teach Important Lessons
Number of People: Unlimited
Create a life-sized game board using colored spot markers to create a fun maze pattern. Place a start box and an end box (you can use hula hoops) as well as various challenges along the way. Split your staff into four teams and have each team pick a representative to take their position on the game board (in the start box). Make a six-sided die that corresponds to the six colored spot markers on the board. The first player rolls the die, and if they answer the trivia question correctly, they advance to the corresponding colored spot. The trivia questions should be taken from your staff manual.
Number of People: Unlimited (groups of six to eight)
Pass out large amounts of candy, crackers, wafers, marshmallow fluff, etc., to the groups of staff members and have them create a fantasy camp using these items. Have groups present their camp to the group, or hold “camp tours” where everyone rotates from camp to camp, except the group representatives, who stay behind to give the tour. Award prizes for most creative, most practical, etc. The best part is eating the “candy camps” when the activity has been completed.
Number of People: Two teams of twelve, you can rotate in new teams to include your whole staff
Divide staff members into two even teams. Find a volunteer from each team and have them sit on a crate at either end of the court. Give the volunteers a bucket/bag/basket for their team to target. Have each team identify “their” bucket. The first time around, ask the remaining players from each team to sit scattered on the floor (cross-legged). No players may move from their places. Using a gator, or soft nerf-like ball, have the players try to score in the bucket — one point per ball in the bucket. The first team to accumulate fifteen points wins the game. Play again. The next time around, the players are allowed to strategically place themselves where they want. Once they’ve mastered the game, try adding more balls.
Number of People: Six per puzzle, unlimited based on available puzzles
Separate staff members into groups and have them sit in a circle facing each other. Pass out puzzle pieces to each member of the group. Without talking, have them place their pieces in front of themselves. Next, only moving one piece at a time, in a clockwise order, ask each individual to place a piece into the center without touching any one else’s puzzle pieces. In the next phase of the game, you can create your own rules keeping the group silent, but allowing them to touch other pieces, all leading up to the final step, where they are allowed to talk and complete the puzzle.
Number of People: Three per hole, you decide the number of holes
This game is similar to miniature golf with three players per hole; equipment needed includes a “bowling-type” ball, five-gallon buckets/garbage cans, and blindfolds. Set up the course with a number of “holes” (e.g., five-gallon buckets/garbage cans) and obstacles. The blindfolded bowler stands in a hula hoop (which is placed at varying distances from each target). One partner stands next to the blindfolded bowler, and one partner stands next to the bucket. Using their voice only, the partners can direct the bowler where to roll the ball. Three attempts each and then move on to the next hole.
Gary Berger, M.S.W.; Scott Lantzman; and Randy Nathan, M.A., M.S.W., are with Advanced Team Builders (ATB), a consulting firm that specializes in enhancing individual staff performance within camps. ATB has presented at the American Camping Association Tri-State Camping Conferences.
Originally published in the 2003 May/June issue of Camping Magazine.