Games for Boys
It is perhaps no longer the height of political correctness to play games which are designed specifically for one gender or the other, but the difference between girls and boys is so marked that occasionally it makes good sense to separate them up for a change. This article discusses some of the games a group of boys might want to play, and the practical benefits behind the games.
Youth leaders will recognise the truth that boys often tend to prefer more active games, while girls tend to prefer more cerebral and intellectual games. However, it is important to strike a balance and to expose each gender to experiences outside their comfort zone from time to time.
- Manhunt - An ideal, boisterous game for intrepid youth groups .There are two teams: the defending team must protect a 'base' which the attacking team must attempt to reach. It is vital that the defending team are encouraged to go out and find the hiding attackers, because otherwise they tend to 'goal-hang'; you can easily prevent this by instigating a 'no more than X at base' policy.
Played in the dark, in the woods, this is one of the most exciting, active and fun games; it also teaches boys about the necessity for teamwork and strategy, even in the most chaotic circumstances.
- Scout Pace Race - as you would expect, this was originally one of the Scouts' games. It involves using 'Scout Pace' - that is, running and walking to cover ground at a faster pace, but maintaining one's discipline, which is something that appeals very much to boys. This is one to be played outside, and it requires considerable trust in your youth group, so only play it if the children are mature enough.
You need to measure a half-mile distance, where another leader should stand. The object of the game is to cover a mile in as close to 12 minutes as possible. Children should remove their watches as this is a test of their discipline and stamina. Send pairs of boys out at 2 minute intervals and keep a record of who arrives back, and how long it took. Consider buying some small prizes for the participants.
- 500 - a classic in the boys' games catalogue. It requires an open space and a ball of any kind, or a frisbee. One boy starts as thrower, and the others group together around throwing distance from him. The object of the game is to catch the ball enough times to become thrower. 500 points are required, hence the name of the game; the thrower decides how much each throw is 'worth' by shouting a number as he releases the ball.
There are countless variations to the game, but one of the most popular is to assign different values to the throw based on whether it is caught on the full or after having bounced, e.g. "100 dead, 400 alive!" where 'dead' means the ball has bounced.
- Marble Drop - an excellent indoor game. The group splits into pairs, and each pair should have eight marbles between them. One boy stands with his heels together and toes apart at a 90 degree angle. The other boy, from around 2 metres away, must toss or roll a marble between the first boy's feet. If it does not remain between the feet, then the first boy acquires it; if it does, then he must attempt to drop one of his four marbles onto it. If he misses, he loses his marble; if he hits it, he retains both.
The roles are then swapped. The winner is the boy who acquires all the marbles.
- I'm Taking - simple 'figure it out' game where the leader makes up a rule for all his statements, similar to the Green Glass Door game. For example, "I'm taking a pencil and paper, but not a ruler" would mean everything 'I'm Taking' has to start with the letter 'p'.
- Racetrack - a fun indoor game which also teaches boys to use coordinates! You'll need some graph paper and pens. Then you can draw a racetrack, or let the boys design their own. It is probably best to start with an oval shape, but once the boys have got the hang of the game, any shape will do! The 'cars' are actually dots on the page. They move by coordinates - for example (1,0) would move the car one square right or left, while (2,1) would move it two squares along and one up or down (directions obviously depend on what the track looks like).
This teaches the importance of acceleration and braking at the right time to maintain control of the car, and to get through corners efficiently.
Enjoy playing these games for boys with your youth group.