Teen Program: Pirates vs. Ninjas

The 4-1-1:

When: June 14th, 5:00 – 6:00pm
Resources: None
How many teens: 12
Cost/Supplies: approx $2

  • Water Balloons (2 packs/200 balloons) $2
  • Bug Spray; our field is near a forest preserve so we get a lot of mosquitos
  • Flags; I use 2 squares of brightly colored felt

The run-down:

I have to admit the prep time for this one was a bit time consuming  It took two volunteers and me around an hour to fill about 150 balloons. I was very lucky that we were able to get a rhythm down very fast as this could have taken us much longer. I had one teen turning on and off the hose and the other taking turns making the water balloons. I used a large trash can on wheels to hold them; I added water in the trash can as we went to help the balloons to not break.

The run-down for this can vary depending on what you want to play. We divided into Team Ninjas and Team Pirates and decided to do the water balloons first. I put the trash can in the middle of the two teams and let them go. While they were mainly attacking the other teams, this one is a bit a free for all. Sadly, it did not last as long as I had hoped. Mainly, because one of the teens not decided to pull the trash can into the grass causing it to tip over and the balloons to break. (5-10 mins)

Next we played captured the flag. We play the basic rules of hide the flag, find the flag, bring the flag to Andrea without being tagged to win. If they are tagged, I didn’t make them sit out the whole game. Instead, I told them to count to 30 and then go back in. I did have to tell a couple count slowly, but most did fine with this rule. We also played that if you had the flag and your tagged then you drop it there and doesn’t have to be taken back to the start point. Of course, no camping and no putting the flag where it would involve climbing trees. I had a couple of sneaky teens who would stand still behind trees until their enemies passed as a way to get deeper into territory. A great strategy that paid off for his team. (20 – 25 mins)

The last game we did was tag. The first round we played infectious tag aka when you’re tagged instead of being out you are also “it”. The game continues until all players are the taggers. Round two was good old normal tag. Once they were tagged they were out and either talked on the sidelines are got something to drink. (20 – 25 mins)

After tag, we really only had about 5 – 10 mins left so I let the teens hang out and just talk. By then they were getting tired and needed a nice sit and drinks. Several of them came over and we discussed Doctor Who and our thoughts on last season and our theories for the new Doctor. (I have TONS of Whovians so this is something we do often!) Parents started to arrive early so the timing working out quite nicely.

Take-away/lessons learned:

  • Remind teens that they cannot move the trash can full of water balloons, even if it is on wheels. Honestly, I didn’t think I needed to say this, but losing 75+ water balloons taught me otherwise!

  • While I liked having the trash can on wheels for ease of movement, it may have been nicer to have a bin of water balloons on each side. This would have cut down slightly on the chaos and may have made the balloons last longer.

  • Move part if it indoors. Since I’m running this event after hours now, I could theoretically move the even inside for part of it. It would stop them from getting too hot and allow a wider range of games to be played since there are better barriers/hiding spots in the library.

  • I really need to expand this beyond just tag, capture the flag, & water balloons. I thought the hour would help on the lulls we’d hit in the past, but we still had a good 10 -15 mins where no games was actually being played. I think next year I’ll explore other games that could be played with pool noodles and bean bags.


I forgot to take pictures this year, so these are from a couple years ago. I thought they gave a good idea of how our field is/the space we’re using. If I think about it, I’ll try to take a panoramic one later this week.

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