Fun, short games to play with a group of children whether you’re camp counselor or parent

Summer camp season has begun all over the country. Camp staff are gearing up for campers through training and planning. Camp counselors can be found sharing their favorite songs, cheers, games and tricks of the trade. And they are excited to playing outside all day while guiding young people through fun, playful adventures.

The staff and AmeriCorps members of Playworks share that excitement. Many of us also spent our summers at camp — both as campers and counselors. And since we bring that same enthusiasm to the school year, we have many songs, cheers, games and tricks to share ourselves.

So here are four games or activities to play with small groups to entertain kids as they wait for their next activity:

  1. Group Count. This game requires the group to be quiet and listen attentively to each other. Everyone must take turns saying numbers in sequence therefore counting as a group. The group, however, may not make a plan for the counting order and must take turns randomly. If two players say a number at the same time, the group must start back at one. The goal of the game is to reach ten, then a higher number as everyone gets better. By the end of the summer, groups may be able to count to 50!
  2. Land, Sea, Air is a fun listening game played on a line. As leader, you call out a series of commands land, sea, and air in random order. The campers stand with their feet together and toes behind the line. This is Land. If you call air, everyone must jump up in the air and land in the same place. If you call sea, players must hop over the line and land (feet together) in front of the line. If you call land, they must do the opposite landing behind the line. If you they are already on Land or Sea when it is called, they may not jump. Give players a task to complete such as running to touch another line when they make a mistake.
  3. Splat is a fun circle game. A single person stands in the middle of everyone else in a circle. This person point to someone in the circle and says splat. The person who was pointed too must duck and the two people next to that person point to each other and say splat. If anyone does not duck or say splat, s/he becomes the person in the center.
  4. Try some Repeat After Me songs, such as Boom-Sha-Boom. You can find several great demonstrations videos of songs on the web, including this playlist on YouTube.

Need more ideas? Check out our Six Waiting Games for the Plane or Car or Five Waiting Games for Bus Rides.

What are you favorite group waiting games?

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