Top 5 Games for Summer Camp


I travel to a lot of summer camps around the country each year. I have seen with my own eyes what games kids are drawn to the most throughout their given week of camp. And they are the same games no matter where you go. Kids are kids! Here are the 5 games that I see get the most playtime when I go to camps (in no particular order):

  1. Dodgeball – Anyone who has worked with a group of 20 kids for more than an hour knows that all kids want to do in life is play dodgeball – forever. You can come up with plenty of variations of the game. But the basic idea of this game is every kids’ dream come true: throwing, dodging, catching, smacking, jail-break, you get the point. One word of caution: use those super soft throwing balls and NOT playground balls or anything harder. The kids WILL kill one another if you let them.
  2. Gaga – This tiny arena game competes with dodgeball for “greatest camp game of all time.” You basically put about 20 kids into a small octagonal enclosure, give them a ball, and watch the dust (or mud) fly. They need to swap the ball at one another and knock opponents out by hitting them below the waist with the ball. It is every camper for him/herself.
  3. Carpetball – If there was a world carpetball championship event, I would sign up for it. I thoroughly enjoy destroying lines of kids at this game. This is a long table covered in carpet or astro-turf. Each end of the table has a pocket that collects billiard balls. You place your own billiard balls on your end of the table and then try to knock your opponents’ billiard balls into their pocket by rolling the cue ball down the long table. One word of caution: this sends a lot of kids to the dental surgeon, because they all like to watch the game very closely and fast moving billiard balls and teeth are not a good combination.
  4. Capture the Flag – Under the right kinds of rules and conditions, this can be the most fun part of camp. If it is all the counselors versus all the kids, then it is not very fun for the kids. You can do this with paintball guns, water guns, or simply by tagging or taking flag-football flags off one another. One word of caution: someone will get lost.
  5. Swimming – This really isn’t a game, but this is the real reason why kids come to summer camp. They want to swim. If you run a summer camp and don’t have a pool or a lake, you need to get one.

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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.

2 thoughts on “Top 5 Games for Summer Camp”

  1. Rather than calling it Gaga Ball many call it Gorilla Ball or Octaball (sp?). We chose Gorilla ball to eliminate any unintended connection to Lady Gaga, and it matches a common defensive posture used in the game.

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