Whether you’re leading a group of novices on their first camping expedition or taking your friends on a casual weekend trip, the weather gets nasty, playing games is a great way to keep spirits high!
Here are a few favorites from NOLS staff—what are yours?
Bob the Weasel
Form the group in a shoulder-to-shoulder circle facing inward with one person in the middle. Folks standing in the circle chant “bob the weasel, bob bob the weasel,” while passing an object (like a water bottle) behind their backs to each other without the middle player detecting who has the object. Whoever is currently holding the object can quickly lift it up to show the others where it is in the rotation, prompting others to chant “I see the weasel, the weasel weasel weasel.” The middle person has three changes to guess who has the object. If they guess correctly, the person with the object goes to the middle, and the game continues.
*Make the chanting as odd/silly/discordant as you can!
Take a basic one-on-one game, like rock-paper-scissors. Everyone starts as an individual and challenges another person to the game. Whoever loses the game becomes the cheering squad for the winner, while the winner looks for the next challenger. By the end, there will be a showdown between the final two players with a group of teammates rooting for them, hassling the other team, and lifting their champion on their shoulders.
*The more ridiculous your support is, the better—then everyone feels like a winner!
All players stand in a large circle facing the center. They put their hands together, facing the center of the circle. Everyone shouts, “3, 2, 1, NINJA!” and then freezes in a cool ninja pose. *Get creative.
The object of the game is to get the other players “out,” one limb at a time. Each player gets one move for their turn. You get other players out by (gently) karate chopping their arm below the elbow, or their leg below the knee. Taking a single step is allowed. The player being attacked is allowed one move to dodge the attack. If the attacker misses, then the next player in the circle takes their turn.
If you successfully touch the other player, they ”lose” the limb you touched (tuck their arm behind their back or stand on one foot). A player is out of the game when both of their arms and both of their legs are out. The winner is the last ninja standing!
All players stand in a large circle facing the center. Play begins when a designated player raises both arms over their head with palms together to form a “tree” and shouts “Wah!” The two players on either side of the tree become lumberjacks and must chop the tree down by placing their own palms together and simultaneously make one chopping motion toward the midsection of the tree while also saying “Wah!” *No touching the “tree” with the chopping motion!
When the “tree” is chopped, he or she "falls" by bending at the waist, saying “Wah!” and pointing to another member of the circle. The fallen tree may point to anyone in the circle except the players directly next to them. The player whom the fallen tree points at must immediately become the next tree by raising both arms together and saying “Wah!”The game continues with the players on either side of the new tree chopping it down, the tree falling and pointing at another player, and the player pointed at creating the next tree.
If at any time a member of the circle hesitates, performs the wrong motion or does not say “Wah!”, that player is “out” and must step outside the circle. The game stops to let the player step out and starts again when a new tree goes up (anyone may start the next round).
Players outside the circle remain active by walking around the circle and distracting the remaining players. *Words only, no touching! As players are eliminated, the circle continues to shrink until the final four players are congratulated as the winners.
Molly is a NOLS instructor and writer. She loves the smell of her backpack and does her best writing before 7:00 am. When she's not scouting the next post for the NOLS Blog, she's running and climbing on rocks in Wyoming. Follow her on Instagram @mgherber