Time for Games: Games with a Purpose

A resource of games that can be used in den and pack meetings.
By Corinne Stewart & Alisa Ashby

“Scouting is a game with a purpose.”

“Scouting is about three things: It’s about fun; it’s about values and it’s about learning.  Fun is the game, learning is the process, and values are the purpose.”

“PLAY IS THE FIRST GREAT EDUCATOR…Just as for young animals, so for the Cub Scout, ‘play is the thing.’ I have advocated in the book that the principle for dealing with Cub Packs is that of making the Cubs a happy family – not a family, but a happy family.

But when they play they should be encouraged not to mess about but to play heartily.  Games properly organised develop the important items of laughter, good nature, and comradeship as well as physical health and activity, while team games further develop unselfishness, esprit de corps and fair play. But through it all I continually lay the stress upon laughter. Another text that you will find in the Handbook is that ‘he who laughs much lies little.’

It is, of course, easy to state generalities like these. It is another matter to devise the details by which they can be put into practice…a resume of games such as will be of infinite value to the teachers of young boys in putting into them the foundation of Character, Health and Happiness.”


Leaders must remember
·      To have the boy spirit in him/her and must be able to place himself/herself at their level.
·      That he/she must realize the needs, outlooks, abilities, and desires of the ages of boys.
·      That he/she needs to promote team spirit among his/her individuals to gain the best results.

An effective way to meet these goals and standards is through games…GAMES WITH A PURPOSE!

Having a variety of games on hand that promote and reinforce different concepts such as team building, leadership, communication, listening, etc. as well as “just for fun” and “getting to know you” games is very important.

Also, access to games that are specific to large groups/small groups, outdoor/indoor, openers/closers, and time-fillers is handy, as well.

Games Are 
·       Lessons without teachers
·       Body builders
·       Mind stretchers
·       Friend makers
·       Building blocks
·       Most of all games are fun

Through Games a Scout
·       Learns new skills
·       Develops new interests
·       Learns to follow the rules
·       Learns fair play
·       Learns to wait his or her turn
·       Is taught respect for the rights of others


Balloon Hot Potato Game

Small/large group

Materials:  6 or more balloons, slips of paper, pencil
Number of Players:  6-8+
Time Needed:  approx. 20 minutes


Write messages on the paper, slip one in each balloon, and blow them up.
The messages could be like “Recite the Scout Oath,” “Tell the Scout Motto,” “Tell 3 components needed for a fire,” or any other questions about your theme.

How to Play

The group stands in a circle. The leader has the balloons. One at a time, a balloon is passed from player to player around the circle, until the leader blows a whistle. The player holding the balloon when the whistle blows goes to the center of the circle and sits on the balloon until it pops. He reads the note and performs the action or answers the question contained in the message.

The Zip Zap Game

Small/large group

Materials:  None
Time Needed: 15-20 minutes
Number of Players:  8+

How to Play

Sit in a circle with one player standing in the center.

When the center player points to someone in the circle and says “Zip!” that player must give the name of the player on his right before the pointer counts to ten. If the pointer says “Zap!” the player must name the player on his left. If the center player says “Zip! Zap!”, the player he points to must name the players on both sides of him.

Anyone who gives the wrong name, or is too slow, becomes the pointer and the old pointer takes his place.


One additional rule you may need is that a new pointer may not immediately call on the old pointer to give him a chance.


Large group

Materials:  Small pictures of various animals (one animal on each paper)
Number of players:  10+
Time Needed:  15 minutes


1.  Divine players into the number of groups you have animals for.
2. Randomly pass out slips of paper to each player instructing them not to let others see.

How to Play

On the signal “GO” players walk around in the group without talking and only making the animal sound they were assigned.  They try to find the other players who are making the same sound as they are and gather in groups.

Variation #1:  Have players close their eyes while walking around making the animal sounds.

Variation #2:  Only one player is assigned the sheep.  At the end of play, it will become apparent that he is the “lost sheep”.  Will another animal group invite him into their group?

The Button Trading Game

Fun for a pioneer-themed pack meeting
Large group (better with large)

Materials:  Lots of buttons (at least 10 different colors)
Number of Players:  At least 10 players, but more is even better
Time Needed:  15+ minutes

How to Play

Each player is given 10 buttons of the same color. (There are at least 10 different colors of buttons distributed amongst all the players).  On signal, they are to go around in their pack and trade buttons. Everyone tries to come back with 10 different colored buttons.


After gathering, they are told the following story:

Buttons were important and valuable to pioneers.  They were made out of antlers, bones, metal, and wood. Pioneer women had a button box that they used to save their buttons. When clothing was worn out and discarded, buttons were always removed and saved. Pioneer women traded them and gave them to each other as gifts. Buttons were also used to make necklaces and bracelets called charm strings. These charm strings became popular storytelling props because each button had a history. Despite their limited resources, pioneer girls collected buttons. Prized buttons were strung together to create charm strings. The goal was to collect 999 buttons: the 1,000th button was to be presented by a girl’s true love (they’ll get a kick out of this part).

Also, large buttons on a looped string became a favorite toy among the children.  They were called “whirly-gigs”. The children would spin the button to twist the strings, with the button in the center. Then, with their fingers inserted into each end of the loops, they would pull the strings to let them begin to untwist, release the pressure, and then pull the string taut again to keep the whirligig spinning.


Minefield (Blindfolded obstacle course)

Small group/multiple small groups to accommodate more boys
Can be easily adapted according to your needs

Materials: A very large outdoor or indoor space; ropes or string to mark of “fields”; several light, soft objects to serve as obstacles, such as large plastic cups (empty or filled with water), empty plastic bottles, cones, soft foam balls, squeaky toys, etc.); a blindfold
Number of Players: A small group of about 6 at each minefield;  one is to be the guide, one to be blindfolded, and others are to either offer support or hinder with distracting or wrong directions
Time Needed: 20-30 minutes


1. Find a good large outdoor field or large indoor space.  Be sure there are no dangerous items or hazards nearby.
2. Set up the “minefield” by placing ropes about 2.5 to 3 feet apart and as long as desired.  3. Scatter “mines” (large paper cups, empty plastic bottles, cones, soft foam balls, etc.) within the minefield across the course.
4. Once the minefields are set up, divide into teams (6 or so at each minefield); one to be the guide, one to be blindfolded, and others to either offer support or hinder with distracting/wrong directions.  After the one person is blindfolded, he is not allowed to see or talk.

How to Play

Emphasize the importance of trust and safety.  Promote a serious environment.

The goal is for each blindfolded person to get from one side of the field to the other.  He must safely avoid touching the “mines” by carefully listening to the verbal guidance of the guide (and avoid listening to wrong info provided by others from the sidelines).

Give each pair a few minutes of planning and preparation for their communication strategy.

Once blindfolds are worn and everyone is ready, say “Go!” and the activity begins.  The blindfolded person cannot talk; he just listens and walks.  The guide can’t touch his or her partner, but he can speak to his partner and use whatever verbal strategy he wishes.

After the listener successfully reaches the other side of the minefield, he becomes the guide and the next boy is blindfolded and goes through the minefield.  Continue swapping roles until all have had a chance to play as the guider, listener, and supporter/distraction.


Be careful that blindfolded people don’t crash into each other.  The facilitator should ensure collisions don’t occur.  He can walk around and help keep people separated.
If desired, create a penalty for touching a “mine”:  a time delay, a loss of points, or (worse case) a restart.

Perhaps suggest that a pair develop a unique communication system.  When participants swap roles, give participants some review and planning time to refine their communication method.

If a person prefers not to play, do not force a person to be blindfolded.

Variation:  For a massive, quick game, create a big huge minefield.  Have cubs partner up. All the blindfolded scouts stand at one end and their partners are at the other. On ‘GO’, all-seeing scouts try to guide their blind partner through the minefield to be the first to reach safety. It’s loud and wild!

At the end of the time debrief and allow for reflection; ask pairs what they learned from the experience.

A What?

Small/large group

Materials:  A number of random objects (fork, spoon, phone, shoe, watch, pen, cup, etc.)
Number of Players:  It’s more fun with a larger group, but can easily be played with smaller numbers.  It’s fun to have as many objects as you have players.
Time Needed:  20-30 minutes


Arrange players in a circle.  Have different (random) small objects to pass around within reach of the first person.  (ie, a fork, a shoe, a pen, a ball, a fan, a glue stick)

How to Play

The first person, Player A, picks up an object (for example, the fork) and while handing it to the player on the left (to Player B) says:  “This is a Fork.”
Player B says: “A what?”
Player A says: “A Fork.”
Player B says: “A what?”
Player A says:  “A Fork.”
Player B says:  “Oh, a Fork.”

Player B then takes the fork from Player A, while Player A picks up a new object.

Player A introduces another object to Player B, while Player B is introducing “the Fork” to Player C.

Player B is now saying, “This is a Fork” to Player C and Player A is saying, “This is a Shoe (or whatever object was picked up) to Player B.  Player C and Player B say “A What?” to the person who is introducing the object to them.

Play continues around the circle with answers and questions moving along rhythmically until it comes full circle.  You can continue even if all the objects are introduced as soon (if it hasn’t already) the first object will be coming back to Player A.  This is when it gets really cool!

Variation 1:  After the right side gets going, Player A can introduce an object to the to player on his left.  This leads to fun and confusion when two questions/statements intersect.

Variation 2:  Use different labels for the objects.  For example, instead of “a fork” it becomes “a beagle”; instead of “a shoe” it’s “a house”.  Good listening and a lot of concentration is at play!

See, Run, Do

Small groups (can have multiple groups for more competition)

Materials:  a completed poster, a blank poster board, markers, crayons, pencils
Number of Players: 4-30 (multiple small groups of at least 4)
Time Needed: 15 minutes
Preparation Needed (Ahead of Time):  Make a poster that represents a concept that you would like to focus on, or just a simple illustration of some sort.  Bring all supplies needed to reconstruct the poster and enough for teams of 4-5.


1.  Post the poster outside the room where no one can see it.
2.  Divide the group into teams of 4-5.
3.  Players pick roles (seer, runner, and doers)
4.  Give a time limit for the project.

How to Play

1. One person is going to be “seer” – only this person can see the poster and he must tell the runner what he sees (on the poster).
2.  Another person is the “runner” – this person must run from the work table to the seer.
3.  The rest of the team members are the “doers” – they must reconstruct the poster as the runner tells them, based on what the seer tells the runner.

The runner can run as many times as necessary to get the correct information.

This activity can work for all age levels; how you structure your poster may depend on the age group involved.

Variation #1:  This can be played with just one small group or as several small groups competing with each other to re-create the same poster. At the end, see which group did the best job reconstructing the original poster.

Variation #2:  Have more supplies handy to create posters (scissors, glue, construction paper, etc.).

Processing (Questions to ask after the game)

What communication skills were used in this activity?
What teamwork skills were important?
Did the group organize before they started?
How did the seer, runner an doers work together and/or communicate?
What did you learn from this activity?


Atomic Ball

Outdoor/indoor (large space)
Small/large group

Materials: One or more large metal washer with 5-7 strings tied to it. The strings should be 2-3 feet in length; tennis ball or other firm ball for each team.  Cups, cans, or bowls that will hold the balls.
Number of Players: No limit—at least five for one team
Time Needed: 20-30 minutes
Preparation Needed (Ahead of Time):  Tie strings to washers randomly around the washer.

Set Up

1. Form the participants into teams of 5 –7 each.
2. Give a washer with strings to a team and instruct each team member to hang onto a string.

How to Play

1.  Place a ball on the washer. If the ball falls off the washer, they must start again.
2. The team must work together to place the ball in the cup, can, etc. on the other side of the room.
3. One or more teams can do this at the same time as a timed event or one team at a time with observers. Teams can try again if they want.
4. Observers should watch for communication, leadership, and teamwork skills.

Processing (Questions to ask after the game)

How did communication change within the group?
Did anyone assume leadership?
How did the team work together?
What does this say to our group?
What did you learn from this activity?
How can you apply this to other situations?

Octopus Race

Outdoor/indoor (large space)
Small/large group

Materials:  None
Number of Players: 6-12
Time Needed:  15 minutes

How to Play

1. Divide the den into two teams of three or four boys each.
2. Team members line up back to back with elbows linked (almost in a backwards circle).
3. On signal, they race to a turning line and back. This game requires a lot of practice, teamwork, and communication.  Running is not always the easiest or the best solution.

Bed Sheet Ping Pong

Small/large group

Materials:  Flat bed sheet (size depends on numbers of players participating), Ping-Pong ball (or feather)
Number of Players:  6 – many more
Time Needed:  15-30 minutes


1. Form two teams.
2. Each team holds an opposite end of a bed sheet.

How to Play

A Ping-Pong ball is placed in the middle of the sheet. The object is to get the ball to fall off of the other teams side, for a point.

The sheet can be raised and lowered as needed to create inclines/declines, but remind the players to be careful not to “launch” the ball (as they will be very inclined to do so).

Variation:  Play with a feather instead of a ball and put players all around holding the sheet (instead of on sides).  Shake the sheet vigorously causing the feather to fly. Players can blow the feather away from them.  If it goes over a player’s right shoulder, that player is eliminated and play continues with remaining players until one is left.


Frogs and Flies

Small/large group (the more participants the better)

Materials:  None
Number of players:  10+ (more is even better)
Time Needed:  As little or as much time as needed

How to Play

1. A herpetologist (someone who studies frogs) is chosen. He stands in the center of a circle of players who are all sitting down.
2. Everyone closes eyes tightly while the leader goes around the outside of the circle and secretly taps one of them. This person is the frog.
3. The leader informs everyone to open his eyes.  Now, the frog’s job is to eat the flies; the flies being the others in the circle.
4. The herpetologist’s job is to try to guess which player is the frog while the frog tries to
“eat” as many flies as possible by making eye contact with others in the circle and sticking out his tongue at them, all without letting the herpetologist see him.
5. Once he has stuck his tongue out at someone, that player extends his legs straight out, or they can lie down on back with legs in the air for a moment in dead bug pose, indicating that they have been “eaten.”
6. The herpetologist watches the players closely to catch the frog in the act while the frog tries to eat as many flies as he can before being discovered. The herpetologist gets 3 chances to guess whom he frog is.  If guessed correctly, the frog turns into the herpetologists, and the leader chooses a new frog.

Alphabet Exercise

Small/large group

Materials:  None
Number of Players:  As many players as you have
Time Needed:  5+ minutes

How to Play

Allocate a number of letters of the alphabet to each group and then give them 5 minutes to find as many objects as possible.  They can point to something in the room that begins with one of their allocated letters.

No real rules, so some people can get very creative:  bringing items in from outside the room; naming parts of the body (e.g. pupil, cornea); emptying their handbags to find items etc. Creates great energy and fun.

Cowboy, Ninja, Bear (a variation of the classic “Rock, Paper, Scissors”)

Small/large group

Materials:  None
Number of Players:  As many pairs as you can make
Time Needed:  5 min+

How to Play

Paired partners stand back to back.  The players walk three paces away from each other and on the 4th beat, both players jump to face each other, doing a pose of a Ninja, a Cowboy, or a Bear.


Ninja – Arms crossed in ready stance (or any ninja-ish kick or pose)
Cowboy – Draw your guns
Bear – Claws up and growling

Feel free to add sound effects!  It’s even better.


Ninja beats Cowboy using lighting-speed ninja kicks.
Cowboy beats Bear with his quick draw and perfect accuracy.
Bear beats Ninja with a strong swipe of his clawed paw.

Telephone Charades  (this is a fun variation to the “Telephone Game”)

Indoor/outdoor (best indoors)
Small/large group

Materials:  None
Number of Players:  At least 6 players or more
Time Needed:  5+ minutes


Type or write a list of humorous actions to be acted out (large enough for the audience to see if desired).  Some examples are: walking through a haunted house, setting up a tent, going skydiving, catching a huge fish, etc.

How to Play

1. Choose five or six people (or ask for volunteers) and ask them to line up in a row facing away from the mediator. The first person turns to the mediator to read the first action to be acted out.  If there is an audience, show the clue to them, as well.
2. The first person turns around and taps the next person in line on the shoulder. He then acts out the clue using classic charades rules (no talking or noises permitted). The second person then taps the third person and acts out his or her understanding of what was acted out. This process continues until it reaches the last person in line, who must guess what the action is.
3. This game is funny because the meaning tends to warp and get distorted based upon each person’s interpretation of what is going on.

Variation:  A good variation to try is to have two teams line up and act out the same clue simultaneously. The teams that guess the clue correctly (or most correctly) wins the round.

This game (also known as “Charades Down the Line”) is a hilarious icebreaker.


Pirates (3 Coins at the Fountain)

Indoor (large space)
Large group/pack

Materials:  Seven stones (or other objects that can be picked up off the floor),  tape
Number of Players:  12-16+ players
Time Needed:  30 minutes


1. The cubs are divided into four equal groups, with one group sitting in each corner.
2. The seven stones are put in the center, with a square drawn round them, and a small square in front of each team.
3. Each cub in the team is given a number from #1 onward.

How to Play

The leader calls out a number, such as “#2.”  The four number 2’s run to the center and pick up a stone, and bring it to their own square. Only one stone may be picked up at a time, and it must be placed in the square, not thrown.

They then return to the center and pick up another stone, or once they have at least one stone in their square, they may also take from their opponents’ squares. The play continues until one group has three (3) stones in their square. A point is scored, and the game commences again with a new number.

Tissue Paper Relay

Small/large group

Materials:  Drinking straws for each player, a sheet of tissue or a square of toilet paper for each team
Number of players:  6-8 on each team, at least 2 teams of equal players (smaller numbers can make up a team, if needed)
Time Needed:  15+ minutes

How to Play

Give each player a drinking straw.  Divide the boys into two or more equal teams.  Give the first player on each team a square of tissue paper.  On signal, he tries to lift the tissue paper off the table by inhaling through the straw and passing it to the next member of his team without dropping it.  The next player must take the tissue paper using the straw and pass it to the next team member.  If the paper falls, it must be picked up with the straw.  Play continues until it makes it all the way down (or around) the table.  Straws are lifted in the air when relay is completed.

The Crocodile Game

Outdoor/indoor (large space, gym)
Large group

Materials:  Cones, tape to mark the playing field (especially of outdoor).  If indoors, just use the walls as boundaries.
Number of players:  15+ Players
Time Needed:  20-30 minutes


1. Mark the two banks of a river on the floor.
2. Split the group in half. One half goes to each side of the river.
3. One scout is the crocodile in the river.
4. Number off all people on each team.

How to Play

The crocodile calls out a number and the scout from each team with that number must run to the far bank without being tagged.

If the crocodile tags someone, he switches places with him.

If a scout does not leave his bank before the other running scout reaches his bank, then he switches places with the crocodile. This is to keep the game moving.

No scoring, just for fun.



http://usscouts.org/games.asp (macscouter)
http://utah4h.org/volunteers/resourcematerials/index  (Scroll down to GAMES and click.  Starting with the 3rd link down on the list will be a list of fun games to choose from.)
http://www.thedump.scoutscan.com/games4cubs.pdf (this is a huge file…wait for it)

HUGE RESOURCE of GAMES (from Canada):
http://www.scoutscan.com/cubs/cubgam01.html (part 1)
http://www.scoutscan.com/cubs/cubgam02.html (part 2)
http://www.scoutscan.com/cubs/cubgam03.html (part 3)
http://www.scoutscan.com/cubs/cubgam04.html (part 4)
http://www.scoutscan.com/cubs/cubgam05.html (part 5)
http://www.scoutscan.com/cubs/cubgam06.html (part 6)

Would you like more information?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s