Bringing the Wizarding World to Camp!

So this is my last post about this year’s summer camp. And I’ve saved the best for last. Our theme this summer was magic and for our second intentional programming piece I decided to get a little help from the well known fantasy world of Harry Potter.

I called the game “Harry Potter House Cup” and the goal of the game was to collect gems by completing challenges. What makes it intentional programming is that the challenges are meant to encourage self-esteem, cooperation, and a little more knowledge about arthritis. To start I divided all the campers into groups. Since we had over 60 campers and I wanted to have smaller groups, I had 8 different groups, each one of them being from one of the houses from either Hogwarts or the American equivalent, Ilvermorny. The way I sorted everyone was each camper got a card that had one of the houses on it, and from there everyone got into groups. Each group got a vial and was told to collect their house’s color beads. The first group that filled their vial would be the winners.

These are some of the vials and cards we used in the game

All the counselors were given a supply of beads that included all the colors and then they spread out in the playing area. The groups had to travel the playing area, looking for counselors to give them challenges. I should note that the groups did not have an adult escort. There were enough adults that no one was out of sight of at least 2 adults, but I wanted them to work as teams to decide where they would go and what they would do without an adult hovering over them. (Kind of the “get messy” approach the Ms. Frizzle has on Magic school bus, you know?) If the group completed a challenge they got a certain amount of beads. The harder the challenge, the more beads it was worth. We had a variety of challenges, some easy like creating a house song or a secret hand shake, others harder, like acting out how to advocate for oneself in a school setting. We even did “magic runes” where campers were given a paragraph of medical jargon about arthritis and asked to translate it.

It was really awesome to see how the campers would help each other out and support one another. Since the assignment was random, there sometimes were groups with both really young and really old campers mixed in. Watching the older campers take the younger ones under their wing was so great. Of course, there were some minor issues when campers had trouble getting along, but even that is a good learning experience for them. I think what I wasn’t prepared for was how competitive people got. In retrospect, I probably should have been more clear about the rules and perhaps maybe had a goal for all groups to fill their vials. But that’s okay, I feel that anytime I do an activity with kids and teens I learn something new. I will also say that I learned it’s very important that you are clear with your facilitators about all the aspects of the game and are comfortable going with the flow. Because we had so many kids and such a large playing field, I couldn’t be everywhere at once so I had to trust that everyone was comfortable with their roles. We had one issue where two of the colored beads where different shades of blue and the facilitators didn’t notice. So when we did figure out that one team had been collecting the other team’s beads, it took some time to fix the mix up.

Does this activity sound like fun? Have you ever done anything similar? Let me know in the comments below. If you have more questions about how we pulled this game off, also leave a comment or shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!

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