Activities at summer camp are often designed around a particular theme to make them more fun for children. Most kids love pirates. Since pirate toys, movies, cartoons and stories have been staples of children's entertainment for many years, camps often think up great pirate activities. Camp directors know children enjoy dressing and acting like pirates. If you want to host a pirate day at a summer camp, there are lots of games everyone can play.
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Divide the campers into two groups. Have each group hide a "treasure" somewhere on the grounds. The treasure can be anything you choose. Have counsellors help each group of children draw a map to lead the other team to the treasure. Have each team swap maps and let the campers try to decipher the clues. If you want the game to last longer, make sure the campers are extra imaginative with the maps.
Design a series of tests kids must complete to be awarded the rank of "pirate." Have an eye-patch or small pirate flag to give out when each child passes the final test. For instance, set up a balance beam and have each child walk across to practice boarding enemy ships. Use a three-person slingshot and fire tennis balls at a target to simulate firing cannons. Three-person slingshots can be found at most toy stores. They have two sturdy handles, each held by a different person and a pocket for loading a water balloon or tennis ball in the middle. Two people hold the slingshot stationary while the third pulls back the pocket and shoots the ball or balloon. You could also purchase a few polystyrene swords and stage some carefully supervised sword fights.
Capture the Flag
Capture the Flag is a camp game standby for a good reason: it allows kids to work together in teams while enjoying the thrill of competition. This is perhaps the easiest game to turn into a pirate game. The theme of running, hiding and stealing the flag tends to bring pirates to mind. Have the kids make Jolly Rogers -- the standard white skull and crossed bones on black -- to use as their flag. Give each team one flag and have them come up with a pirate-themed name. Play up the pirate element and kids will have no problem accepting capture the flag as a pirate game. For instance, you could have the children wear eye-patches or wrap scarves around their heads while playing.
Here Comes The Captain
This is a variation on other games in which players must follow the instructions of a single commander. Usually, it's a good idea to have a counsellor shout the commands, unless you're dealing with children 10 or older. Create a number of commands with set actions. For instance, "man your battle-stations" could mean pretending to load a cannon. Other good suggestions are "all to port" and "all to starboard." These mean everyone must run to the left or the right, respectively. Create as many commands as you feel the campers can remember. The captain shouts out the commands one at a time. If anyone doesn't follow the new command and keeps doing the old one, they must sit out until the next round. The last person left in the game wins and -- if kids are playing the Captain -- becomes the next Captain. The Captain should shout commands faster and faster until the game is over.
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