Water Games

From: Jim Speirs

Table of Contents

  • A Little Inconvenience
  • Slash hike
  • Monster Relay
  • Save the Insulin
  • Marathon Obstacle Race
  • Punctured Drum
  • Floating Fire Bombardment
  • Mystery Meal
  • Operation Neptune
  • Pyjama Relay
  • Candle Race
  • Spoon Race
  • Newspaper Race
  • Blow Ping Pong
  • Underwater Knotting
  • Match Race
  • Obstacle Relay
  • Human Chain
  • Mounted Wrestling
  • Greased Watermelon
  • Water Tug 'o War
  • Candy Dive
  • Jaws
  • A Little Inconvenience

    Water game, outdoors.
    Equipment: 1 soccer ball; 2 inner tubes; 1 water ball; 2 water basketball hoops; blindfolds; string.
    Formation: teams.

    The object of this game is to allow players to experience the sensation of having a disability.

    Divide the players into four teams, and set up a rotation so that each team takes part in each of the following activities:

    1. Sensitivity walk,

    2. Obstacle course in water, using inner tubes.

    3. dodge ball, and

    4. water basketball.

    Each activity is performed with a specific handicap:

    1) When a team goes on the sensitivity hike, all participants are blindfolded. They simply go on a short hike, and experience it without sight.

    2) In a short obstacle course in shallow water (through an inner tube, crawl on the bottom then through a second inner tube) players must not use their arms.

    3) In the dame of dodge ball in shallow water, each player's ankles are tied together. (One player in the center of the circle tries to hit another player with the soccer ball.

    4) In a game of water basketball, players may not speak.

    Following ten minute rotations of each event, the group can discuss the sensations experienced by being temporarily handicapped.

    We can soon learn it is not what you cannot do -- it is what you can do !

    Slash hike

    Water game, outdoors.
    Equipment: None
    Formation: group

    This is a super small group game. Ask everyone to wear bathing suits and an old pair of shoes (a pair they can get wet). The game takes place in a stream or along the shallow shoreline of a lake or river.

    The leader steps into the water, and instructs the group to 'follow the leader'. Everything the leader does is copied by the followers. After a few minutes of hiking, the leader falls to the back of the line to let a new leader take over. The hike can be as long or as short as time allows - it is fun to walk back to home base in the water, rather than by land; see if the group can hike backwards for some of the return distance.

    Some 'follow the leader' ideas:

    Sit down on a stone; hop on one foot; play leap frog; skip a flat stone out to sea; jump from one stone to another; build a small castle on the shore; climb a tree; stop, take off one shoe, empty water from it, and put it on again; crouch so that all of you is under water; sing a song about the sea; try to catch a frog.

    Monster Relay

    Water game, outdoors.
    Equipment: none.
    Formation: teams

    Divide the group into teams of 8-10 players.

    Set up a 'monster' relay where every player has a role. Some swim through shallow water, some through deep water. Have some do cartwheels through shallow areas, while other swim with one hand in the air.

    The design of the relay depends on your waterfront set-up and the abilities of your swimmers.

    End the relay by having one player piggyback a teammate across a finish line, located in shallow water.

    Save the Insulin

    Place the insulin (a plastic bleach bottle) in the lake or river about 20 feet from shore. Patrols equipped with a pike pole, two 8 ft. planks and some rope must try to retrieve the insulin needed by a dying man. The water is full of man-eating sharks which will instantly attack anyone who steps or falls into it.

    Marathon Obstacle Race

    Of course, this must be set up according to the location and equipment available, but here are some examples. Make it a timed relay in which one boy from each patrol starts off. He swims to a raft or dock, enters a canoe or rowboat, paddles it in a certain manner, jumps out or capsizes it and stays underneath to sing for 10 seconds, pushes or tows the craft back to the dock. Or, he picks up a passenger from dock or raft, paddles around a buoy, jumps out into the water and climbs back in, etc., etc.

    Punctured Drum

    Although this challenge doesn't happen in the water, it should be done near the water. Provide plastic detergent bottles or other convenient containers for transferring water, and patrols must try to use them to fill a drum in which you've banged as many holes as possible. The only things boys can use to plug the holes are parts of their bodies. Fifty holes will occupy all of the fingers of five boys.

    Floating Fire Bombardment

    For this effective night activity, you need wooden logs for raft-building; lashing twine; matches and fire-lighting materials; and a source of small rocks for ammunition. Each patrol constructs a small lashed raft and arranges fire materials on it. They tow each raft to an equal distance off shore and light the fires. Patrols then line up on shore (make sure boys stay in line to prevent injuries) and, on signal, start bombarding their rafts. A "direct hit" which splashes water onto a burning raft counts 10 points. The first raft to be extinguished wins. Alternately, you can use just one raft and judge the direct hits.

    Mystery Meal

    Here's a traditional challenge that means buying enough tins of food to provide six tins for each patrol. You can keep down the cost by buying from "bash and dent" bins, but make sure the cans aren't damaged enough to be leaking or bulging. Mix it up so that you have soups, vegetables, fruits, stews, spaghetti, puddings, etc. Peel off all the labels, load the cans into a boat and dump them at a marked spot in the river, lake or pond. Avoid muddy bottoms and strong currents.

    One boy from each patrol dives for the cans. He must bring up only one at a time and toss it to other members of his patrol who are on shore, on a dock, or in a boat. When he has retrieved six cans, the patrol must leave the area. Back on shore they open the cans and decide how to prepare a meal from the offerings. Swapping between patrols is not allowed and, in order to win the challenge, every member of the patrol must eat and all food must be consumed.

    Operation Neptune

    Operation Neptune pulls together a series of aquatic challenges for a summer camp "funoree", a swim meet at the "Y", a camporee or jamboree, or a pool party.

    Have each patrol adopt an aquatic name (Barracudas, Sharks, Porpoises, Fin-Busters, etc.) and make themselves an identification poster for the operation. Encourage the boys to prepare and practice special patrol cheers to add spirit to the event. You may want to design a "Neptune Scroll" to award the winning team when scores from all events have been tallied.

    Plan the program to make participation possible for every boy in the troop--not just the good swimmers. To keep things moving along, arrange for a megaphone so that you can announce each event and have contestants assemble in a special staging area.

    If you use a blackboard to display up-to-the minute scores, you'll keep spirit high with spectators cheering for their teams. You'll need extra help on hand to keep spectators under control, and you can recruit parents as timers and judges.

    Success depends upon preparation. All necessary equipment must be ready and lifeguards in attendance. In all events, water safety regulations must be observed. For an outdoor meet, the boys should each keep a towel and sweater handy.

    You can choose from an infinite list of possible events. Mix up skill and fun challenges to make a well-rounded meet in which every boy can take part.


    Devise contests for the best straight dive, the best fancy dive, the best crazy dive, or the biggest splash.


    Try a dog-paddle race in which the boys must bark while swimming; lifejacket race; dead man's float glide; free-style underwater distance swim; free style leaders vs boys relay; front and back crawl race; side or breast stroke race; towing rescue where a boy must tow a buddy for a certain distance; team relay.

    Operation Neptune Novelty Races

    Pyjama Relay

    Each team has one pair of pajamas. The first boy must put on the pajamas, swim across a given area, take off the pj's and hand them to the second boy, who puts them on, swims, removes them and hands them to the next, and so on.

    Candle Race

    One boy per patrol must swim a certain distance with a lighted candle. To prevent hot wax from dripping onto the swimmer's skin, push the candle through a hole in the center of a foil plate. The plate will act as a hand guard.

    Spoon Race

    One boy per patrol swims a certain distance holding an apple, potato or rock-filled spoon in his mouth (sideways works best). If he drops the object, he must dive to retrieve it.

    Newspaper Race

    One boy per patrol swims a certain distance on his back carrying a newspaper. He must hand the paper to a judge at the finish line. The judge decides the winner on the basis of whose newspaper remained the driest.

    Blow Ping Pong

    One boy per patrol blows a ping-pong ball ahead of him as he swims a given distance. He cannot touch the ball with his body.

    Underwater Knotting

    One boy per patrol must submerge and tie a given knot underwater; a round turn or a clove hitch around his leg, for example. You can do this in shallow water for junior boys.

    Match Race

    One boy per patrol swims a given distance with a match. The object is to keep the match dry because he must strike it for the judges at the finish line. The winner is the first to light his match after the swim.

    Obstacle Relay

    Four boys in a team. The first boy dives through the legs of a partner who is standing in a shallow area. The partner then must swim to a finish line while carrying a ball between his legs, after which the third boy picks up an object (puck, rock, ring) from the bottom of the pool or lake. When this is accomplished. the fourth boy swims a given distance with a Frisbee on his head and finishes by tossing the Frisbee to the judges. Winner is the first patrol to complete the series.

    Operation Neptune Fun Events

    Human Chain

    Members of a patrol sit in a line on the edge of a dock or pool and link arms. On signal, the boy at the starting end lets himself drop into the water. Each successive boy in the chain must be pulled into the water by the boy who precedes him. They cannot help things along by jumping in. First chain to slide off the deck is the winner.

    Mounted Wrestling

    Hold this in shallow water and supervise closely. Each patrol is represented by either one or several teams of "horse and rider". On signal, riders engage other riders in an attempt to pull them from their horses. When a rider is down, the team must immediately leave the playing area. Last horse and rider standing is the winner.

    Greased Watermelon

    Two teams, each defending a goal line. The object is to get the watermelon to touch the enemy's goal line. The melon cannot be carried.

    Water Tug 'o War

    Hold in shallow water. Each patrol competes against all others, then winners against winners and losers against losers.

    Candy Dive

    Each patrol is given three minutes to dive for candies you've thrown in the water. Wrapped caramels work well. Boys who retrieve the largest number of sweets are the winners.


    This is a water version of British Bulldog. Choose one or more of the good swimmers to stay in the middle as "Jaws". On signal, each patrol tries to swim from one side of the circle to the other without being touched by Jaws. When caught, a boy joins Jaws. Continue crossings until time is called. The patrol with the largest number of boys to escape Jaws is the winner.


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