In my years of children’s ministry experience, I have learned that there are some games which run a higher risk of causing injury to participants. I list below five games which tend to be the most problematic. No doubt, you will be able to think of others, and you may disagree with my chosen culprits. Here they are:
1. Red Rover: Years ago, I stopped allowing this game to be played. Why? Each and every time someone would get hurt, usually one of the smaller children. Their wrists would get injured, their arms bruised, and sometimes there were knots on foreheads. So finally I wised up and stopped it. Funny thing is, the kids did not seem to mind.
2. Tug-of-war: This can be a fun game if properly supervised. You don’t want too many kids on either side. You have to take into account whether you intend to play inside or outside. If inside, do you allow them to wear socks rather than shoes. If outside, what kind of surface is it? Grass? Dirt? Pavement? Ahem, gravel? Too often, wisdom does not prevail when stared down by fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants fun…. Thus, I let this one wander off into obscurity.
3. Dodge Ball: No matter how many times you warn offenders, someone will always get nailed in the face. There are rule options, such as requiring kids to roll a ball to hit the legs or feet of opponents. Yet, I nixed this one too by means of providing more entertaining games.
4. Tag: Who doesn’t love a rousing game of tag, or one of its many variations of freeze tag? Great game. That is, until two or more kids smack into each other, dropping in a heap of tears or even blood. Ugh. The key to a safe game of tag is thorough adult supervision. At least one adult per five children with each adult fully engaged in monitoring the activity. In other words, no discussing irrelevant stuff off in the corner while the children create their own fun. Be involved and you will minimize the risk of injuries or other problems!
5. Jump the River: This game may be less well-known to some readers. The concept is simple. Two lengths of rope or string are placed about one foot apart. Each child individually runs and jumps across it. When it is the original child’s turn again the pieces are placed farther apart, usually an additional foot or so. Eventually it becomes a large span and children begin to lose their ability to jump far enough to reach the opposite side. When they miss, they sit out. Last child jumping wins and the game is over, or can be repeated. Injuries can happen in latter stages of the game if children are not wearing appropriate attire or footwear, and if there are objects nearby which could provide unintended obstacles. Just make sure there is plenty of room and the children are properly dressed for the game, plus provide good supervision.
So, there you have it! Five games which can pose a risk of injury, especially if not properly supervised. Do you agree? Disagree? Sound off about it! Tell me how you really feel….