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January 08, 2020
Fresh Choices

The new year has begun. Here in Alberta it has been snowing for a good part of the day. The ground and trees are covered in a blanket of fresh, white snow. No one has walked on it and no one has played in it. It is so very clean and white.

Start each day fresh. As sung in Frozen 2, "do the next right thing". No matter what is behind you, going forward choose well. Choose God. Choose wisely. It doesn't matter that you've made mistakes, do the next right thing.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight" Proverbs 3:5-6

Sharon Fraess
National Director

September 01, 2017
WideGame: Braveheart

A Fun Game! This one is brought to you by Pioneer Camp in Alberta. Get ready for a simple, yet EPIC, take on "british bulldog" that will have your campers running, yelling and fighting to the death! (But not actually...)

BRAVEHEART

Based on the Braveheart movie, and the premise that there’s a war and the underdogs need to rise up and fight, the possibilities for rallying the troupes (campers) and getting totally into the game (costumes, warpaint, even bagpipes!) are endless!


SUPPLIES

  • Pinnies (Required)
    Have enough so that the entire camp can be divided into two teams. Alternatively, you could use pieces of fabric, bandanas, or something similar.
  • Costumes (Optional)
    Have some of your staff dress up in attire that would represent the Braveheart movie – kilts welcome!
  • Warpaint (Optional)
    Really get the kids into it by preparing their faces for battle.
  • Props (Optional)
    Be creative! Use horses if your camp has them to re-enact a rallying scene from the movie, get wooden or foam swords to bring the scene to life, or even have some background music to amp up the intensity. Go all out – the kids will love it!

OBJECT OF THE GAME

To be the last team standing.


RULES

At the beginning:

  • Each player will receive a pinnie in their team’s colour. They tuck the pinnie into their pants or belt or pocket making sure to leave at least two-thirds exposed.
  • Each team will line up on a field facing each other.
  • A staff member (ideally one with a solid Scottish accent) asks the teams if they’re ready (and hopefully they respond with a raucous battle cry!)

“FOR FREEDOOOOOOM!”

  • Teams run toward each other on the field. At this point, their goal is to pull pinnies off the players on the other team. They may never move backwards, only forwards, so when the two lines cross they will end up on opposite sides of the field.
  • If a player’s pinnie is pulled, he or she is “dead” and must sit down on the field where they “died”. They are not, however, fully out of the game! While on the ground, they are able to still pull pinnies from the other team as they run by, but they may not move from where they are sitting.

Next round:

  • Continue to repeat the battle cries and running at each other across the field. There will be more and more casualties which will mean that the people who are “dead” and sitting on the ground will become more and more of a threat to the runners.

Near the end:

  • When there are only a few players left standing/running, tell them that there will now be no “safe zone” and that they all must continue running on the battlefield wherever they want to go until only one is left standing. Often, at this point, it’s the people on the ground who are most helpful to their team!

Reset:

  • Get both teams back up and play again. This game can be played over and over again as kids that were unable to make it very far the first round will have another chance to try again.

Additional Rules

  • Pinnies should be tucked into the sides (not the front).
  • As a player runs, they may not cover the pinnie with their hands, hold the pinnie to their bodies, or in any other way impede another player from grabbing the pinnie.
  • Players may not tie the pinnie to themselves.
  • If a pinnie falls out, for whatever reason (too loose, a player from their own team grabs it, etc.) they are still “dead”.
  • It is very important that players never run BACKWARDS during battle.

As a final note, this is one of those games where the more amped up you make it, and the more into it the staff are, the better it will be! So, be creative, have fun, yell loudly, and fight hard!

They may take away our lives, but they will never take away OUR FREEDOM!!!!!

August 11, 2017
WideGame: Pokeman Go!

Wide games are always such a fun part of the camp experience – I mean, how often do you get more than 20 kids (sometimes even hundreds!) together to play a giant, epic game?!

Our friends Dan and Amy at Camp Kadesh in Saskatchewan have been dreamin’ and schemin’ wide games for many years in their role as Program Directors. They’re super passionate about big group games and love to bring them to life! We are excited to get to share one of Dan and Amy’s games with the CCI/Canada family in this blog.


POKEMON GO

The mobile app/game became incredibly popular in 2016 and was successful largely because it reached an audience of all age categories; Pokemon, as a game or a tv show, has been loved by multiple generations. In this wide game, Pokemon comes to life as campers attempt to “catch ’em all” (the ” ’em” being staff dressed as various Pokemon!)


SUPPLIES

Medic Disk and Pokeball

Each team of campers will need:

  • 2 Pokeballs
    These are small red light plastic balls painted to look like Pokeballs. (Tip: They will get thrown at the Pokemon, so make sure they don’t hurt when you get hit by them!)
  • 1 Towel
    Beach towel sized ideally.
  • 1 Medic Disk
    Can really be made out of anything – in this case, they used Plastic bucket lids painted red with an X taped on it.
  • 1 Pokedex 

    Example of Pokedex (click to enlarge)

    Printed sheet of paper that lists all of the types of Pokemon in categories (ie. Fire, Water, Grass, etc.)

Each “Pokemon” (staff member) will need:

  • Epic Pokemon costume
    Whatever you want! Raid that dress up closet and get creative! In one game of Pokemon, three staff dressed up in brown and wrapped themselves together to become Dugtrio! Keep in mind that you may want to consider the costume’s mobility  factor (to run away from campers!)
  • 1 Pool Noodle
    Pokemon use these to defend themselves.
  • Pokemon Cards (quantity depends on number of campers)
    Each Pokemon carries these small slips of paper with them. When they’re caught by the campers, they give them a card to symbolize their capture. These cards are ultimately worth points.

OBJECT OF THE GAME

To catch ’em all! (Obviously.) But in seriousness, the object of the game is to be the group that ends up with the most points. Points are acquired in the following ways:

  1. Capturing a Pokemon (different Pokemon are worth different point values)
  2. Acquiring the cards of all of the Pokemon in a single category (ie. all grass Pokemon). Cards can be acquired by catching or by trading.
  3. Acquiring the cards for EVERY Pokemon in the game.

RULES

How to catch a Pokemon:

  • Campers travel as a cabin group. When they see a Pokemon, they can throw a Pokeball at it. If it hits the Pokemon, the Pokemon will freeze for 5 seconds.
  • While a Pokemon is frozen, the campers must wrap their beach towel fully around the Pokemon to capture it.

     

    Camper attempts to capture a frozen Pokemon by wrapping it in a towel.

  • If, however, the Pokemon hits any of the campers with a pool noodle, they become frozen. The only way they are able to be unfrozen is by being tagged with the Medic Disk.
  • Pokemon cannot be captured while any member of the group is frozen. So whoever holds the Medic Disk must go around tagging those who got hit by the pool noodle. 
  • Note: Pokemon can be caught by the same group MORE THAN ONCE. Ex. If Pidgey is worth 1 point, and a cabin catches the Pidgey 3 times, they would acquire 3 Pidgey cards. This would be worth 3 points at the end of the game.

Trading:

  • Set up a “safe zone” where groups can come to trade cards with each other. Because they’re able to capture the same Pokemon more than once and there is an advantage to having all of one type and all of the Pokemon in the game, groups will likely want to trade with other groups to get them all registered in their Pokedex!

Bonus: 

  • Release a “Legendary” Pokemon into the game! Make sure that this Pokemon is fairly elusive and is worth a decent amount of points if captured! 

At the end of the game:

  • Have each group hand in their Pokedex and all of their Pokemon Cards. Tally each group’s points to determine the winner!

PHOTOS

Check out these fantastic photos of Pokemon Go in action!

Campers try to catch wild Pokemon all over camp.

To freeze a Pokemon, campers must hit them with a Pokeball.

A wild Poliwhirl appears!

A Pokemon about to get caught!

July 20, 2017
Anti-Bullying
No Bullies Allowed: Anti-Bullying Reminder for Camps

Unlike other jobs where a poor customer experience may simply end in an individual not returning to the store or a negative review on Facebook, a bad camper experience has the potential to impact that person for the rest of their lives.

Just as we’re writing you to remind you about the realities of bullying in our world and in our camps, we hope you will take this opportunity mid-summer to chat with your staff about this topic as well.

Look for it…

As you know, it’s an incredibly fine line between joking/teasing in good fun and bullying, but here are some questions to arm yourself and your staff with to check if it’s a harmless vs. harmful situation:

Is it deliberate/intentional? Are the camper’s actions toward another camper done on purpose and with malicious intent?

Is it repetitive? Is the one camper consistently and repetitively directing his/her actions toward one other specific camper?

Is there an imbalance of power? From an outside perspective, does the actions of the one camper put them in a position of power over the other camper and could that other camper be seen as vulnerable by the bully?

Deal with it…

If yes to any of the above, or if the situation just isn’t feeling “right” or positive, take action –  and encourage your staff to do the same. Equip them with tools for how to effectively deal with potential or real bullying situations. Remind them that even if it’s not exactly bullying, creating a positive and safe environment for campers is a priority and they should do everything in their power to align their words and actions to that goal. Here are some ideas for your staff to help deal with bullying:

  • Prevent bullying by being a rolemodel: use inclusive and positive language and encourage the entire group/cabin unity through actions and words. Playing get-to-know-you games or having a cabin theme/chant/bandanas/bracelets, etc. are some ideas to unite them as a team.
  • Let the campers help design the rules. Ask them what rules they think should be in place and then ask if everyone is in agreement. Ensure that everyone has a chance to participate in the rule generation conversation. Write the rules on a piece of paper or poster board and have the kids all sign it. When someone is being disrespectful or when teasing etc. begins, point out the rules that they all made up and signed and ask them to follow it.
  • Be intentional and conscious of which campers may appear “vulnerable” to their peers. This could be children who are extra shy, are different in appearance or skill level, have a disability, etc.Counselors, when they’re looking for it, should be able to figure this out fairly quickly and can then be intentional about quickly befriending that camper and including them in the group. 
  • If a child approaches a staff member and says that they feel bullied, LISTEN. The child is reaching out for help and this should not be dismissed. If they feel like it’s a negative situation, it is the staff’s responsibility to help them and not judge the child. Don’t decide that they are incorrect and it doesn’t need to be dealt with. The camper needs to feel safe at camp so something needs to change.
  • If bullying happens, staff need to speak up. Tell them it’s ok to verbally stop the dialogue by telling campers that it’s not ok to speak negatively about another camper at camp. It will get awkward. It’s not comfortable to say something that causes conflict or might be an unpopular opinion, so prepare your staff by telling them that even though their comment may seem abrupt, it is necessary to go through this small amount of discomfort to ensure a safe and positive environment for their campers (the ultimate goal). Also let your staff know that this is what you expect from them. 
  • When you become aware of bullying, supervise, supervise, supervise.It’s always a bonus when the kids get along and the cabin or group is “easy” to supervise, but when it’s not, even though it’s more difficult, it’s still the staff’s job to watch the campers and ensure they have a good camp experience. Remind them of this and encourage your staff to ask for help in this area. Tell them to approach a program leader, director, or coordinator (whoever would supervise them at your camp) to tell them about the situation and together set up a plan to make sure the children are supervised. This may involve informing other counselors who will also have the responsibility of diffusing bullying situations. 
  • Mitigate the bullying by keeping the campers separate. This doesn’t have to be obvious (like changing groups or cabins necessarily), but it can be as simple as a counselor sitting between them or ensuring that they sit at opposite ends of the table in the dining hall. 
More…

Want more ideas and information? Here are a few articles with more detail:

What YOU Can Do to Prevent and Stop Bullying at Camp
6 Ways Summer Camps Can Prevent Bullying
Eyes on Bullying: Camp