4-H Camp Counselor Backpacks

By Joe Ramos,2014-05-07 11:52
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4-H Camp Counselor Backpacks

    Sauk & Columbia County 4-H Camp


    In 2007, Karen Nelson, Columbia County 4-H Youth Development Educator, and Jessica Jens, Sauk County 4-H

    Youth Development Agent, decided to implement a “camp counselor backpack” with the Jr. Camp program. The

    idea of the backpacks had been shared with us through informal conversations with other 4-H staff. We apologize

    for not remembering when or with whom this conversation happened and who we stole this idea from, but we

    loved it! The Sauk County 4-H Summer Intern, Brianna Stapleton, was assigned the task of creating the backpacks.

    Our 2007 camp counselor team helped brainstorm the different games/activities listed in this document. Brianna

    completed all of the work to package this teaching tool and created all of the backpack kits. This document will

    provide information for you to recreate or adapt the backpacks for your own 4-H camping program.


    Each year we ask our camp counselors to pre-plan and come prepared to lead a variety of group games, icebreakers,

    and energizers with their cabin groups. Although time was set aside at camp planning meetings to work on this

    task and action plans were created, the follow through on this “assignment” was minimal. Camp counselors are

    asked to take on a large amount of responsibility, planning, and leadership in their roles. To help ease the amount

    of responsibility placed on them, the “Camp Counselor Backpack” provides activity descriptions and needed

    materials for them to use throughout camp. This frees them to spend more time and effort on following through

    with their other responsibilities.

Additionally, we’ve had some challenges with counselors picking marginally inappropriate skits to perform during

    campfires. The campfire skit book provides a variety of skit descriptions which are all 4-H camp appropriate.

Objectives of the Backpack:

    To provide a resource to assist 4-H camp counselors in…

    ? Including welcoming activities with their cabins.

    ? Leading group games & activities with their campers during down times (like standing in line for


    ? Assisting their cabin groups in selecting and performing a 4-H appropriate camp fire skit.

    ? Leading reflection activities at the end of each day and camp with their campers (to be implemented

    in 2008).

Changes Planned for 2008:

    As noted in the objectives, descriptions and material for group reflection activities will be added in 2008. We will

    modify this document to include that information when it becomes available (probably June/July 2008).

Inventory of a Camp Counselor Backpack:

    1 Games & Activities for 4-H Camp Counselors

    Booklet (print following pages, cut apart, laminate as

    double sided pages, secure with a ring)

    1 Camp Skits Booklet (same directions as above)

    1 4-H Camp Song Book

    1 Soft Sports Ball

    1 Rope

    5 Balloons

    3 Markers

    1 Pad of Sticky Notes

    4 Small Stuffed Animals

    1 Frisbee

    1 Roll of Toilet Paper

    Easy Games &

    Activities for

    4-H Camp


    Mummy Wrap

    Category: Trust building Materials: Roll of toilet paper, watch

    Preparation: None

    Instructions: One member of the group is designated as the mummy. The other team members are given 5 minutes to wrap their mummy with the roll of toilet paper. They should be careful wrapping so

    that the toilet paper does not separate or tear. The mummy should be wrapped from head to toe, but

    with some leg movement so walking is possible. At the end of 5 minutes, wrapping stops and team

    members walk their mummy around the room. Care must be taken to be sure the mummy doesn‟t

    get hurt or bumped. Campers should gently move their mummies. If another cabin group is working

    with you, a race could be held with cabins racing their mummies.

    Discussion: How does it feel to be confined and have to rely on others? What times in this game made you nervous or worried? How careful were the campers? How can we depend on others as well

    as use our skills as helpers?


    Category: Time filler Materials: None

    Preparation: None

    Instructions: Tell campers that they are about to make a rainstorm with their bodies. Gather everyone in the circle, and then establish yourself as the leader of the rainstorm. Begin by gently

    rubbing your hands together back and forth to make a soft rustling sound. This is the

    misting/sprinkling part of the rainstorm. Gradually increase the intensity of the rubbing so that the

    sound gets louder. Slowly, move to patting your hands against your lap to get the sound of drizzle.

    Again, you will want to increase the intensity of the sound as the storm grows. While still patting your

    hands against your lap, begin to move your feet up and down to get the thunder and pouring rain.

    Fade out the patting on your lap and increase the speed and loudness of your stomping to make a

    really big rainstorm. Let the pouring rain subside, and let the storm drop back to a drizzle by patting

    your hands on your lap. As that subsides, go back to rubbing your palms together to make the

    sprinkling rain.

    Tip: This activity works best if nobody talks, and students simply mimic your actions. Campers will

    often want to try again to make the most realistic sounding rainstorm.

    Human Knot

Category: Problem-solving, team building

    Materials: None

    Preparation: None

    Instructions: Everyone stands in a circle. Tell everyone to reach across the circle and shake hands with someone (the person cannot be standing next to them.) After shaking hands, they should not let

    go of that person‟s hand. Then, tell them to use their free hand to grab the free hand of a different

    person not the same person that they shook hands with the first time. Now that the group is all knotted up, ask the campers to unravel the knot by unthreading their bodies without letting go of each

    others‟ hands.

    Discussion: What strategies worked best for unraveling the knot? If we were to do it again, how could we be more efficient?

    My Name Is…

Category: Icebreaker, physical activity

    Materials: None

    Preparation: None

    Instructions: Gather campers in a large circle. Tell them that they must think of a movement to accompany their name. Begin the game by demonstrating a movement with your own name (for

    example, say “Peter!” and spin around once.) The next person must repeat that name and movement,

    then add their own name and movement. This continues around the circle. The last person will have

    to do the names and movements of everyone else in the circle! Help prompt the campers if they have

    trouble remembering the names and movements.

    Discussion: Which movements and names were the easiest to remember?

    Pass It On

    Category: Icebreaker Materials: Softball

    Preparation: None

    Instructions: Have everyone in your cabin group get in a single file line. Give the softball to the person at the head of the line and instruct them to hold it between their elbows. They must pass the

    softball down the line using only their elbows. If someone drops the softball, it must return to the

    beginning of the line and start over. The goal is to get the softball to the end of the line and then back

    to the front using only elbows.

    Discussion: What was the most difficult part of this game? How could we make it easier? Tips: If your group really wants a challenge, have them clench the softball between their chin and

    their chest and pass it on using only their chin and their chest. Because this method has people get

    in each other‟s personal space, you will have to watch carefully to see if it is making campers

    uncomfortable. This game is also a good team-builder and encourages groups to work together to

    achieve a common goal. You may want to pair up with another cabin group and have them race each

    other to see who can pass the softball the fastest.

    Giants, Wizards, Elves

Category: team building, physical activity, energizer

    Materials: None

    Preparation: None

    Instructions: Before you begin, explain the three rules to the campers:

    1. Giants conquer wizards. To be a giant, raise your arms high above your head.

    2. Wizards conquer elves. To be a wizard, make a triangle with your arms over your head.

    3. Elves conquer giants. To be an elf, place your hands alongside your ears with index fingers extended.

    Divide the campers into two teams with a space of about 4 feet between them. Direct each team to retreat

    a few feet for a huddle to decide which they will be: giants, wizards, or elves. In their huddles, each team

    decides what they will be, plus a backup choice. Then they come back to their 4-feet-apart stance. On a

    count of three, each team yells what they are. If one team yells "Elves!" and the other yells "Wizards!," the

    wizard team will chase the elves to their safe zone (you can mark these with cones or use a tree or other

    found object). Anyone who is tagged becomes part of the opposing team. If both teams yell the same

    creature, they do it over using their backup choice.

    Blind Shapes

    Category: Problem-solving, team building Materials: Rope, blindfolds for each camper

    Preparation: You will need a large open area in which your group can move around.

    Instructions: Give instructions before you hand out the blindfolds. Tell campers they will be blindfolded,

    arranged into a single file line, and in their hands they will be holding onto a rope. Once everyone is grasping

    the rope, they entire group must work together to form a certain shape (a square, triangle, or oval whatever

    you instruct them to form.) After they‟ve heard the directions, line them up and blindfold them. Then place the

    clothesline in their hands so that each person is holding onto it with two hands. Allow them to move around the

    space until they think they‟ve correctly formed the shape that you requested them to make. They can talk to each other as they work to form the shape. Once they‟re done moving, go around the room and take off their

    blindfolds so that they can check accuracy.

    Discussion: Was it hard to form the shape when you weren‟t able to see what you were doing? Do you think the group worked well together?

    Tips: If your group enjoys this game, tell them that they‟re not allowed to talk to each other when they have the

    blindfolds on. This takes away two of their senses and makes communication very challenging.

    Minute Mysteries

    1. If a plane crashes on the border of Canada and the United States, where would the survivors be buried?

    (You don‟t bury survivors.)

    2. If you have ten cows and all but three die, how many are left? (Three.)

    3. Do they have a Fourth of July in England? (Yes.)

    4. In the Old West, a man rides into town on Thursday, stays three days and rides out on Thursday.

    How can this be? (Thursday is the name of his horse.)

    5. There is a man walking down the road dressed entirely in black. There are no lights on anywhere and no

    moon. A car with no lights on comes down the road and manages to avoid the man. How? (It‟s daylight.)

    6. How far can a bear run into the forest? (Halfway, then it is running out again.)

    7. The person who makes it sells it. The person who buys it doesn‟t need it. The person who needs it doesn‟t

    care. What is it? (A coffin.)

    8. What gets bigger when you take away from it? (A hole.)

    9. Two people are out in the desert with nothing around them, not even any tracks. One is dead and one alive.

    The dead person has a full backpack and the living person has an empty one. What was in the backpacks?


    10. Spell “most.” Spell “boast.” What goes into a toaster? (Bread.)

    11. Do the candles burn longer on a boy‟s birthday cake or a girl‟s birthday cake? (Neither, candles burn

    shorter not longer.)

    Rush Hour Traffic

Category: Trust game

    Materials: Bandannas or blindfolds

    Preparation: None

    Instructions: This is trust walk adaptation. Everyone partners up and uses their bandanna as a

    blindfold for one partner. The person who is the car puts on the blindfold and holds hands up as

    “bumpers” right in front of shoulders, thumbs almost touching. The driver stands behind the car,

    placing hands on their shoulders. The counselor plays policeman calling for “traffic rolling,” “slow for

    school area,” “red light,” “freeways,” etc. The drivers respond by steering their cars through the other

    traffic without touching or bumping anyone else. After awhile groups change roles. “Beep beeping” is encouraged.

    Tip: Special emphasis should be placed on caring for your car. Avoid holes, curbs, rocks, roots as

    well as other people

    Group Juggle

Category: Team building, energizer

    Materials: 1 beanbag, several small stuffed animals

    Preparation: None

    Instructions: Start with everyone in a circle. Take the beanbag and toss it underhand across the circle to someone

    on the other side. As you do so say, “Here John!” John says: “Thanks Sally!” Tell them after catching it to pass it

    across the circle to someone who has not yet caught it (each person only catches and throws it once.) It‟s okay to

    ask for someone‟s name before tossing it. And, that the most important thing is to remember who they threw it to!!

    Ask them to cross their arms once they have caught and tossed it so that everyone knows no to throw it to them

    again. The last participant to receive the beanbag should throw it bag to you. Once the beanbag has been tossed

    around to everyone and back to you, ask everyone to “Point to the person you threw it too.” This ensures that

    everyone will be able to repeat the pattern on the next round. Tell them that you‟ll be going around again in the

    same pattern and that it ought to go much more smoothly and quickly this time! When the beanbag gets back to

    you tell everyone to give themselves a round of applause. Then announce they need to stay very alert because

    things are about to get more challenging. Throw the beanbag once again to the same person to get things started.

    After it has gone to another two or three people begin pulling the other stuffed animals from your pockets/bag and

    tossing it, until there are about 4 things going at one time. You‟re doing a group juggle!

    Tips: It‟s fun to secretly stuff your pockets with the stuffed animals before the activity begins, and start out with just

    one that everybody can see. This creates a funny surprise on the third go-round when you start pulling stuffed

    animals out of your bag.

    Towel Chicken

    Category: Time-filler, energizer, „magic trick‟ Materials: Towel

    Preparation: None

    Instructions: First, roll up the towel like a scroll. Fold the scroll in half so that the rolls are on the

    outside and pull each of the four corners of the towel up out of the center of each roll so that they

    stick out a little. Grab each pair of opposite corners and pull firmly away from each other. See the

    diagram on the back of the card for visual instructions.

    Tips: It‟s always good to have some chicken jokes on hand to go with the towel chicken trick.

    Suggestions are on the back. Also, campers will probably want to lean how to make the chicken

    themselves, so once you get back to your cabins teach them how to do it with their own towels.

    Chicken Jokes:

    Why did the rubber chicken cross the road? She wanted to stretch her legs. What do you get when you cross a chicken with a bell? An alarm cluck.

    What do you get when you cross a chicken with a pit bull? Just the pit bull.

    Why did the chewing gum cross the road? Because it was stuck to the chicken.

    What do you call a crazy chicken? A cuckoo cluck. What do chickens serve at birthday parties? Coop-cakes. Why did the chicken stay outside during the thunderstorm? Because it was ‘fowl’ weather.

    Tag Variations

Category: Physical activity, time filler

    Materials: None

    Preparation: None

    Instructions: Try playing one of the following variations on the game of tag:

    Blob Tag: When the tagger tags someone, they join hands to form a tagging pair. They now chase while

    holding hands, moving as a "blob." When they tag someone else, that person joins hands and becomes part of

    the tagging blob. The members of the tagging blob have to work together to keep moving in the same direction

    to achieve their goal. Tips: Break up groups of four into two-person blobs to minimize confusion and stepped-

    on toes.

    Tunnel Tag: Tunnel tag is a variation on freeze tag. In freeze tag, kids "freeze" in the position they‟re in when

    tagged. In tunnel tag, someone has to crawl through a child‟s feet to "unfreeze" him or her so they can rejoin the game.

    Vegetable/Fruit Tag: When a tagger approaches a child in this game, he or she must squat down and say the

    name of a vegetable or fruit for protection. If the tagger gets you first, you also become "it."

    Band-Aid Tag: In this variation, when a child is tagged, he or she places a hand on the spot that was tagged.

    The child must keep a hand on that spot for the rest of the game. If the child gets tagged a second time, a

    hand must be placed on the second spot. Now the child has used up all the band-aids. If tagged a third time,

    the child must go to the "hospital" (the sidelines) and do five jumping jacks to "get well" and rejoin the game.

    What Am I?

    Category: Guessing game, energizer, time filler Materials: Sticky notes, marker

    Preparation: On each sticky note, write a noun. It can be a place, an object, a color, or a food. If

    you want, all of the nouns can relate to a theme, such as 4-H camp. Make sure that there is one

    sticky note for each camper.

    Instructions: Place the sticky notes on the campers‟ backs so that they cannot see their own sticky

    note. Tell them that their sticky note could be a place, an object, a color, or a food. They must walk

    around, go up to other campers, and ask Yes or No questions about their sticky note. Once they

    guess what they are, they can sit down.

    Discussion: Which were the hardest things to guess?

    Tips: Don‟t make the items too difficult to guess, this will make the game more frustrating than fun.

    Ship’s Captain

Category: Energizer, physical activity

    Materials: None

    Preparation: You will need space to move around.

    Instructions: The counselor starts as the captain. The captain must call out the orders to the rest of

    the players, who are the crew. If a crew member does not follow an order correctly, they are out.

    (This decision is made by the captain, who is always right for the sake of game playing purposes.)

    The last player left is the new captain. Teach the action for each command first, and once everyone

    has learned them you can “officially” begin the elimination. The orders are printed on the back.

    Orders To the ship: run to the captain‟s right

    To the island: run to the captain‟s left

    Hit the deck: crouch down or lay on your stomach

    Attention on deck: salute and yell “Aye, aye, captain!” Three men in a boat: crew forms groups of three and sings Row, Row, Row Your Boat (anyone not

    in a group of three is out)

    The love boat: crew members grab a partner and dance (anyone without a partner is out)

    Clear the deck: everyone must have their feet up off the floor

    Scrub the deck: everyone on their knees scrubbing

    Captain’s quarters: everyone run towards the captain

    Periscope: everyone falls on their back and sticks one leg up in the air

    SHARK!: everyone runs to a designated base. The last player to run to the base is eliminated

    Sick turtle: everyone falls onto their backs and waves hands and feet in the air

    Row the boat: everyone finds a partner, sits face to face, and pretends to row a boat

    Birthday Circle

Category: Energizer, teambuilder

    Materials: None

    Preparation: None

    Instructions: Ask the group to place themselves clockwise in order of their birthday months and days.

    Give more specific directions and demonstrations if your group is young or confused.

    Ultimate Frisbee

Category: Team builder, physical activity

    Materials: Frisbee

    Preparation: None

    Instructions: Create teams with another cabin group and play a game somewhat like football but

    with a Frisbee. Players can run anywhere except when they have the Frisbee. Then the must throw

    it from where they are.


Category: Energizer, icebreaker

    Materials: None

    Preparation: None

    Instructions: Have the group form a circle. If “It” points to you, you must make a trunk with your

    arms. The people on either side of you must put their hands by your ears so that the three of you

    look like an elephant. Anyone who is unable to do so by the time “It” counts to ten becomes “It.”

    Rhinoceros variation: This game is played just like Elephant except that the person “It” points to

    puts fists together by the noise with the outer pinkie finger extended up. During the play of

    Rhinoceros, “It” may call out either “Rhinoceros” or “Elephant.”

    Monkey variation: Played like Elephant and Rhinoceros, except that the person “It” points to must

    scratch his or her head with the right hand while scratching the right armpit with the left hand and

    making monkey noises. The people to the right and left of the person doing the scratching must put

    their hands in the air and sway as if they were coconut palm trees. During the game “It” may point

    and call out “Elephant, “Rhinoceros,” or “Monkey.”


Category: Team builder, physical activity

    Materials: Balloon

    Preparation: Blow up a balloon.

    Instructions: Ask participants to hold hands in a circle. Toss a balloon into the circle. Tell the group

    to do anything necessary (without hurting each other and while holding hands) to keep the balloon

    from hitting the ground.

    Crab football style: This variation of Boop needs no formation but does require that participants

    move in crab football style. Demonstrate by sitting on the floor and then using hands behind and feet

    in front to move around like a crab. Participants may kick the ball or keep it aloft with their heads but

    may not use their hands.

    Variations: Add more balloons.

    Fun Ideas for Leading Games

Ideas for forming partners:

    ? Find someone with the same eye color as you.

    ? Find someone who had the same thing you had for breakfast.

    ? Start hopping on either your left foot or right foot and find a partner who is hopping with the same foot

    you are.

    ? Find a partner who has a different number of brothers and sisters than you do.

    ? Find a partner who is wearing one item of clothing the same color as your are.

    ? Put either your pinky or thumb in the air. Find one other person who is doing the same thing you are,

    and that person is your partner.

    ? Would you rather eat an apple or an orange? Find someone who would rather eat the same thing you



    ? Need blindfolds? Fold up bandannas and tie them around the head.

    ? If you have icebreakers involving M&Ms or Skittles, do those early on at camp so that they don‟t melt in

    your backpack and make a mess.

    ? Throw your towel in your backpack so that you can make a towel chicken.

    ? Always participate in games with your cabin groups. Try to get the adult chaperones to play too!

    Balloon Volley

Category: Team building, physical activity

    Materials: Balloon

    Preparation: Blow up the balloon before you begin the game. Instructions: Tell your campers to gather in a circle. Give them the inflated balloon. Tell them they must toss the balloon amongst themselves, and they cannot let it touch the ground. There are three levels to this game.

    Level One: They can pass the balloon using only their heads or shoulders.

    Level Two: They can pass the balloon using only their hands or arms.

    Level Three: They can pass the balloon using only their ankles or feet.

    Give the teams about three to five minutes to pass the balloon at each level, and then give them instructions to

    move up to the next level of volleying.

    Discussion: Was it difficult to keep the balloon off the ground? Which was the hardest level? Did you learn to

    anticipate the actions of the other people in your group?

    Tips: Talk about working together as a team and sharing a task. The task shared in this activity is the

    responsibility of keeping the balloon off the ground everyone must help. Relate it to a task that your group

    actually shares, such as setting up for a meal or cleaning up the cabin.


Category: Energizer, Time Filler

    Materials: None

    Preparation: None

    Instructions: Have the entire group form a circle. Important: everyone needs to be able to see the eyes of

    everyone else. Explain that you will be saying two sets of instructions repeatedly, "heads down" and "heads

    up." When you say "heads down," everyone looks down. Whey you say "heads up," everyone looks up,

    STRAIGHT INTO THE EYES of anyone else in the room. Two possible consequences: if they are looking at

    someone who is looking at someone else, nothing happens; if they are looking at someone who is looking right

    back at them, they are both to point in a very exaggerated manner at the other person and let out a SCREAM

    OR YELL. They are then both "out" and take their places together outside of the circle to observe. Once the

    "screamers" have left the circle, the circle closes in and you repeat step two, followed by step three, until you

    are down to two people. Yes, they have to do it one more time, even though the outcome is a foregone. These

    two people are the “winners.”



    Artistic Genius

The scene is an art show where judges are inspecting several canvases that are on display. They

    comment on the brightness, color, technique, that is used on the different pictures. They select one

    for the prize and comment additionally on the genius, imagination, and the beauty of the picture. The

    artist is called up and the winning picture is shown to him. The painter exclaims, "Oh, my goodness!

    That got in by mistake. That's the canvas that I clean my brushes on.

    Balloon Orchestra

The players in the orchestra each hold a balloon.

    They blow up their balloons in unison, then let out the air in a squeak

    at a time to the rhythm of some easily recognized rhythm such as "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or "Jingle

    Bells". To end the skit all fill their balloons with air and let go at the counselor‟s signal.

    Important Papers

A person should be chosen as “royalty” to sit on a chair on stage. They should begin by yelling out,

    “Bring me my important papers.” Someone should rush on stage carrying papers of some kid

    (newspapers, books, worksheets what ever is around) and say, “Here are your important papers!”

    The royalty should look at the papers and reply, “No! Those are not my important papers.” The

    messenger should rush off stage. Again the royalty should yell out, “Bring me my important papers.”

    Another messenger should enter with different papers and say, “Here are your important papers.” The

    royalty should look at the papers and reply, “No! Those are not my important papers.” The messenger

    should rush off stage. This should continue until all but one person has entered. The last time the

    royalty shouts the messenger should enter carrying a roll of toilet paper. The royalty should say,

    “Ahhh yes, those are my important paper.”

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