At a recent scout meeting, we were talking about what it means to be a good citizen. We’ve had discussions on this topic in the past, but I wanted to give them an example that the scouts could really understand, so we played a little game.
I divided the kids into four teams, and whispered individual instructions to each team. I didn’t tell them what the game even was, or how it was played. There were a couple of balls and pool noodles placed in the middle of the yard. Here are the instructions I gave:
- Team A: You can only kick the green ball and you can not use your hands.
- Team B: You can only use your hands to touch the ball.
- Team C: You can only use the foam noodles.
- Team D: You can only kick the red ball, but you can’t score.
And then I shouted “Go!”
The kids were confused for a minute, because there were no goals and the objective wasn’t clear, but that didn’t stop them from bursting into action — some players were kicking the balls, some were trying to hit them with foam noodles, and others were grabbing the balls in their hands and running around. It didn’t take long for frustration to set in — pool noodles were used for tug of war contests, and the players who were picking up the balls and running away with them were yelled at by the other players. Everyone was pretty frustrated in mere minutes — it was perfect.
I blew the whistle and called them all in for a chat. Each team disclosed the rule they had been given, and everyone got a good laugh out of it. We talked about how rules and laws are important to not only games, but to life. Laws are necessary for a civilization to exist — without them, there is chaos, as we observed in our little game. If individual groups have their own set of rules to follow, things don’t work.
After our discussion, we decided to make up rules for a new game using the balls and foam noodles, and spent the next ten minutes playing “Noodle Ball.” The kids had a blast, and they went home that night with a real-world understanding of why rules exist — and as a bonus, we now have a new game to play at our future gatherings.