Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Games and Wide Game Preparations - Underway

Wide Game Prep Table
The Crusader and the Cherry Pie Jelly Bellies in a Jar
It's that time of the year again when philosophical questions about the pedagogical value of games arise amidst the increased pressure to complete preparations for the upcoming youth camp.

For the Pensieve, to be taken out and considered at a more opportune moment:
1. At the very least, games are required in any camp for the element of fun. This relaxes campers and ensures that they are not brainwashed or pressured into making any important decisions. The fun is multiplied, I think, by the whole atmosphere of the camp - hence the themed booklet and time-table, quirky morning announcements in costume, evening entertainment and the angle used in the exposition of the passage (within the bounds of the text itself of course). Reports are that the Titus Trust camps do not go to such lengths to do the good work, however, to Jews...

2. Games create opportunities for relationships to be built and also demonstrate character. The wide games, especially, are meant for chats about what has been taught and for questions from campers, if any. No pressure of course since the Spirit blows where he will, though we must be faithful in proclamation.

3. Modern pedagogy recommends games as effective teaching tools. One notes, however, that God employs practices and ceremonies as mnemonics and Scripture (the word) as weapon. (Have been thinking for some years about the validity of board games as effective means to teach God's character and man's dire need for salvation but drawing board is still cluttered. How to demonstrate not just need for salvation but also grace freely given, faith not works, and need for perseverance concurrently? Love Andy Geers' brilliant idea for Bible-teaching computer games. Enjoyed Monkey Island very much for its humour. Reading through the Bible with two people now is fantastic not only for what we learn about God, but also the LOL yet all-too-understandable moments in the Old Testament, so that should translate easily... A biblically-accurate Old Testament adventure game would be utterly cool.)

4. Since it makes an appearance only toward the end of camp, the wide game might be used as a revision of things learned - recall and reinforcement. Naturally, it'll always be about the need for/importance redemption rather than being huge (and useless) on morality. Would rather have this subtly in gameplay rather than crudely in clues (too ed psych!). However, difficulty lies in getting the exact facets from speakers beforehand.

5. For future reference, previous themes, entertainment, games and wide games off the top of my head, alot of misses but a few near hits:
Revision Party 2006 (Singapore International Campus)
Theme: there wasn't a theme.

Games: Debut of the flour and water game at the BBQ at the international hostel. But the mix of the heady aroma of meat roasting and groups of strangers ravenously attacking whatever came off the fire and the lack of tongues wasn't much use for the game.

Wide Game: There wasn't a wide game. There was only one camper and he "forgot" to bring his revision. There were also four or five rather tired tween-companions.

A Peacock and Some Cake
December Holiday Camp 2006 (Costa Sands Resort, Sentosa)
Theme: apparently it was pirates. We had pirate hats, a swashbuckle and a hook for announcements. Monty Python's Parrot Sketch in the heat and mozzies failed, mostly because we were both reading off the same script. Parrot (really a bobble-headed toucan) nodded through a talk perched on the speaker's Bible.

Games: Debut of the Chair Game; Giants, Elves and Wizards; and Dan Young's Crocker.

Wide Game: Amazing Race round Sentosa - luge rides, blue tongues from 7-eleven brainfreezes. Complaints that the clues were too intellectual, even though I'd thought it was already much simpler than the excellently fun Casino Royale Game. Also, ability to identify GPS co-ordinates and GPS-enabled devices were not common amongst campers then, even amongst the Mainland Chinese PhDs.

That Dit-Dit Finger Game
December Holiday Camp 2007 (St. John's Island)
Theme: The barbed-wire fencing surrounding the campsite inspired the prison-freedom theme. We need to be freed from guilt, righteous judgement. Booklet had handcuff, barbed wire and birds (= freedom or lack thereof) motifs. Bird looked like it was flying through the pages. Songs = songs of freedom.

Games: Chair Game; Crocker.

Wide Game: C sent us on a photo and bible verse treasure hunt around the island. Mozzies galore.

Wide Game: Making Ice-Cream in Ziploc Bags
Revision Party 2008 (Prince George's Park Residences, National University of Singapore)
Theme: Choose Your Own Adventure - ending in either eternal life or eternal death; choose wisdom or foolishness. Proverbs and 2 Corinthians. Booklet resembled retro cover page of a CYOA book and used a CYOA font which read "The Search for Wisdom: Choose from 2 possible endings".

Games: G, S and Z's flingo bibs + scoopball scoops + old tennis balls mash-up in the basketball court.

Wide Game: Aim was to show-up assumptions involved in living in this world, that we are choosing all the time - decisions are made minute by minute whether to follow erroneous assumptions:
1. No instructions were given that the Wide Game was at all competitive. Yet, the participants assumed it was, so much so that the leaders of each group refused to share their half of the ice-cream recipe: one group held the ingredients for making the ice-cream from scratch and the other held the instructions. One group ended up with salty ice-cream....*bleah*

2. Instructions were to check with me before setting off. Some clues were deliberately vague. Yet, the participants assumed they knew where they were going so decided to start off before calling back, to save time and to ensure that the other teams didn't know their whereabouts. One group's assumption that they were headed in the right direction landed them on the wrong side of campus completely.

The homemade ice-cream (the one that wouldn't make unsuspecting livers do overtime) was a great hit though. This might have had to do with the calvados in an old vanilla essence bottle.

Pulau Ubin
December Holiday Camp 2008 (Fairy Point Chalet 7)
Theme: Beijing Olympics: "One World One Dream". Booklet cover was a tweak of Beijing Olympics logo - the stick man had his hands raised and was white against the background of a red splatter... Font looked like Chinese brush-strokes. Opening ceremony, closing ceremony and unpaid foreign talent. ;-)

Games: Round-robin table tennis with plastic plates. Didn't get to implement other table tennis games, which then featured in the next year's December holiday camp. Observation-logic games.

Wide Game: Around Changi Village and over to Pulau Ubin. Clues revolved around what had already been taught during camp: the Garden, the Fall etc. Prophet Notes, like Old Testament prophets, would pop up now and then to tell/remind participants that a great chasm had opened up between them and the Safe Haven (FPC7) and that they needed someone to save them. They were stopped at the gate to FPC7 for the Final Challenge, which involved St. Peter (yes, yes, dodgy...we needed someone!) asking them why they should be let in. This drew out the participants' old assumptions about how they could be saved/get to heaven, despite the talks thus far.

Southern Ridges Wide Game
Revision Party 2009 (NACLI)
Theme: Love Scandal (Ruth and idea of redemption). Booklet font was suitably lurid. Dried pasta given out for good behaviour etc could be used to redeem sweeties. Unsophis.

Wide Game: From Kent Ridge Park to Mount Faber. Having recce-ed the route, thought this a very pleasant walk indeed but there were complaints of untoward physical exertion by the time they got to Hortpark. Again the clues were meant to reinforce what had been taught at camp. Very unsophis. Debut of hilarious homemade charade clues - unfortunately, they'd taken so long to get to Hortpark that we didn't have much time to do this. The charade cards have since been misplaced.

This is Spartaaa!
December Holiday Camp 2009 (Fairy Point Chalet 7)
Theme: Movies. Finally got closer to what one would imagine a themed camp to be. Campers were to be woken up by a sqwaking rubber chicken (referencing Chicken Little). Had willing participants to do morning announcements in costume - we had a leviathan and pirate, and a geography teacher ("Where is this?") and Spartan ("This is Spartaaaa!"). Talks and the forum were based on certain movies and the booklet showed one scene and used the marketing font for the relevant movie (the credits were fun to do). Songs = soundtrack. Evening entertainment was quite a failure though due to the female scampers not wanting to embarrass themselves and the staid teachers being aghast at the star hair-sculpting with whipped cream (some of the campers liked it though and one started eating the whipped cream off his friend's head...) in preparation for The Golden Raspberries. The Mobile Movie Director Academy yielded one giggle-in-office-inducing short movie involving a fight between Stitch and The Chicken.

Games: Along thematic lines as well - Balls of Flurry (pingpong dodge ball, pingpong air-hockey), Jerry Maguire (American football), Lords of the (Flying) Ring (frisbee), The Great Lebowski (bowling), Not Quite 2010 (flour and water game with blindfolds and obstacles to demonstrate that listening to the right voice is important).

Wide Game: Hastily completely overhauled during the camp... Involved tim tam slams on Pulau Ubin and many incriminating photos with The Chicken. The Golden Raspberries award ceremony was really laugh out loud funny thanks to the MC.

Revision Party 2010 (Prince George's Park Residences)
Theme: Detectives (the importance of truth and evidence). Murder mystery in parts over several evenings, cumulating in the Wide Game. Ms. Poncey de la Woncey's birthday party on her private island ended with Ms. P in a pool of blood and no heartbeat. There were potatoes and an ugly red dress. Each character had an Obvious Characteristic and a Deep Dark Secret. The campers (detectives) were allowed to ask pertinent questions of the characters and examine the pocket contents of the characters to determine the killer. Ms. P had a death threat (a Shakespearean quotation) in her pocket. All suspects had some sort of white powder (sodium chloride, detergent, flour) on their hands or in their pockets. Ms. P's body disappears the next day...

Wide Game: To find Ms. P's body and the killer! Each group was given a potato. Clue in (yes, *in*) potato sent groups to a uni sitting room where a book containing a play by Shakespeare lay amongst the newspapers. There was an email address on the page which contained the quotation in the death threat. Secret question to access mailbox was a math question. Mailbox contained co-ordinates and photo of a place in Labrador Park. At spot in Labrador, there were plans for a catapult to fling Ms. P's body into the sea. To calculate the distance of Ms. P's body from catapult, they had to solve a physics question...or so it seemed... The physics PhD later realised that there was no distance given between the counterweight and the fulcrum, thus making calculation of the answer impossible. Someone else noticed the more important calculation error in the diagram. :-) They found Ms. P's body covered with white powder. A simple positive result on an iodine test determined the identity of the powder and therefore the murderer. A talk was then given on importance of evidence to determine what really happened. If we do that before we decide whether a person is guilty or not, it would be of greater importance to examine the evidence for one's beliefs.

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