Wide Games & Night Wide Games

'Wide Games' include any game requiring or making use of any large area of land. Provided you stick to a few simple rules they are very easy to set up, very popular and can take advantage of any suitable area. Areas that are particularly good are where it is easy to hide such as woodland or heath, but they can be played in large open fields, its just not so much fun!

If you are familiar with organizing this style of game then feel free to carry onto the index of ideas. But if you are not then there are a few points you need to know

All wide games need you and all players to be aware of the size and type of playing area. This is mainly from the point of view of safety particularly if you are playing in area open to the general public, as the playing areas used can be anything from a small field to several Km2 or more of woodland or forest. It helps when setting boundaries to take advantage of natural ones like paths, streams, edges of woods or fields. If necessary walk everybody around the boundary and/or spend a little time placing boundary markers that are within sight of each other (this could be anything from strips of bright cloth tied to a tree to custom made posts and lights) boundary markers are only really necessary if is difficult to determine a boundary.

Depending on the age of the players, size and openness of the playing area it may be worth while having several marshals patrolling the area to make sure boundaries and rules are being adhered to and you may even want to consider using mobile phones or short range radios.

Coastguards and Smugglers

This is one of the simplest wide games and the basis for many of the more complex wide games. It is effectively an embellished version of `Tag’

Players are divided into two teams, a small team of "Coastguards" and everybody else becoming "Smugglers". The number of coastguards depends on the terrain. In open spaces smugglers need the advantage of manpower while in woodland, etc where there are a lot places to hide coastguards need it!

Coastguards establish a base which becomes the`jail’. Smugglers are given time to get away and hide. 

Coastguards have to catch all the smugglers and play ends when this is done. In the event of this not occurring (as it does frequently) points are made on the number of smugglers still remaining in jail at the end of a time limit.

Smugglers once the game has started have the simple (or not so simple!) task of remaining uncaught. Once captured they can only be released from jail by being touched by a smuggler who is still free.

Coastguards can use what ever technique they want to try and capture smugglers, eg hunting as a pack, in pairs or singularly (Educational to find out which works best and why!). Capture is by touch (as in "Tag"). Once a coastguard has caught a smuggler the smuggler must go back to jail (players showing any resistance or cheating can be expelled from the game for not playing fair!).

Coastguards also have one trick they can use to stop `jail breaks’... jailers, one or two coastguards left to hang around the jail. But its worth while either limiting the number of jailers and/or only allowing jailers within a certain distance of the jail.

This game is best played in wooded areas or bracken heaths where stealth and the opportunity to hide is available. Very difficult to hide on a flat field with cut grass... but still possible!

Fox & Hounds 

Sent in by Mark Sims

Divide into two teams, the "foxes" with around 25% of the players and "hounds" with the other 75%.  

Foxes are given either a whistle or a packet of flour, and a time limit is set (usually 10 minutes). Foxes are given a minute "head-start" and told explicitly to either lay flour every 20 seconds of their journey or blow the whistle every 20-30 seconds. After the initial minute is up the Hounds are let out to chase the foxes following their path and every fox tagged is out. The foxes win if any of them are still active after 10 minutes and the Hounds win if all have been caught.

Find The Leader

One definitely for older youth and not always as easy as it sounds! Players are divided up into teams (suggested minimum of three/four to a team) with the basic task of finding various leaders in a predetermined playing area, giving rise to many possible variations. Two versions are described here for ideas. A useful safety rule, to make sure teams stay together, is that before any signature can be collected the whole team must be present.

Town Hunt

Preparation: Leaders in advance arrange to hide themselves around a local town or village, either lounging around dressed in/conspicuously, or taking part in the daily life. In the past some enterprising leaders have been found down manholes helping(?) the repair men! or more usually helping behind a shop counter.

Once a leader is found the team has to collect his or her signature, before they can find another leader. Whole team must be present to get the signature and first team to collect all or the most signatures in an allotted time wins.

Variation 1: 

Instead of just collecting signatures, teams also collect clues from each leader, the clues all adding up together to solve a treasure hunt or puzzle. prize can only be collected/found if all the leaders signatures are present.

Variation 2: Where's Wally

Another version of Town Hunt, but leaders dress up like Wally (striped top, scarf, hat, etc) from the "Where's Wally" books and hide around town again teams have to collect their signatures when they find them. 

Leader Hunt

Use a limited area of fields and/or woodland. Leaders can move freely around if they wish (advised!). Signatures are collected from each leader, but the objective is to collect as many signatures as possible in a time limit, so the same leader can be found several times. However before another signature is given by any leader, each team must return to base to get their form counter signed by somebody at base.

Witch in the Woods

Simple game that requires a playing area with a number of places to hide making it ideal for playing as a wide game... particularly at night.

Establish a base, one person is chosen to be the tagger or 'Witch' who goes off and hides. After a short while the other players then disperse from base seeking out the 'witch'. Once the witch is discovered players can run back to base. The object is for the witch to surprise the other players and tag as many possible before they can get back to base. 

"Big Foot" or Sasquatch

(c) Kit Logan, 2001 - licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike2.5 License.

Big Foot is based on the idea and legend of the "Sasquatch" and an original game created for a user following a request for a Snow Game which could played at a Snow Camp with the theme "What's my temperature" - which might explain the inclusion of some rules.


To help set the scene but it’s not necessary, youth/children wake up or arrive on scene to find huge footprints made in the snow, mud or some sort of trail leading off into some woods, indicating something large and strange is nearby. On making this discovery they are given a mission briefing similar to the one below but feel free to make your own one up.

The camp is now in a state of emergency. The foot prints have been identified as belonging to a 'Big Foot', a large hairy manlike creature. It has only ever been spotted a few times and your mission is to capture it. Beware. Big Foot is notoriously hard to find because it can take the form of any animal at will and when cornered it has the ability to paralyse others by freezing them.
In order to trap it you not only have find Big Foot, you’ll need to have life bands and enough energy to keep you warm enough from being frozen by its power. To do this you need these energy tokens. You will only survive from being frozen and over coming it if you have enough energy tokens.
Distribute out small cards with various amounts of energy on them (1 to 5) and give everybody a life band (coloured cotton to go around the wrist or other method).

Before they go out warn them that not only will failure to capture Big Foot everytime result in loss of their life band/s needing them to return to base for a new one. Big Foot will also steal all their energy and have their power increased by that amount.

What the youth don’t know is that one of the leaders with them at that moment is playing ‘Big Foot’. It would be useful for one or two leaders who are known to the youth to be mysteriously absent (and in the woods) so the youth immediately suspect them. In addition Big Foot is given a high energy rating of 15 or so to start off with…. So the youth have to discover not only who Big Foot is, but to capture them they have to collectively work together to have enough energy tokens between them to win.

When the groups disperse into the woods the leader playing Big Foot sets the game in motion, waiting for an opportune moment to freeze the members of a small group.

Big Foot has one other trick up their sleeve…. on meeting another leader they can make the other leader become Big Foot (and hand over the power tokens) so that youth don’t always know who Big Foot is.

Effectively if approached/challenged Big Foot must announce truthfully if they are and then find out what the collective power rating of the hunters is… So if Big Foot has a 15 energy rating and a group of players challenges with a collective energy between them of 12. This is lower than 15 so the group all loose their life bands AND power cards. Big Foot keeps these and now has an energy rating of 27!

In the event of a tie where its equal power rating… Players loose their life bands forcing them to return to base and get new ones, but not their power rating cards.

Fools Gold

Submitted by Big Al (alex@deaddodo.net)


For 2 or more teams. This game is essentially best when played in sand dunes at the beach (softer landing areas).

Simply split into teams and establish a base for each team equal distances apart from other teams (if more than 2), by placing the 15 potatoes (the gold) in a pile. Set up a no go zone round each set of potatoes about 2-3 metres, this is now a safe zone that only any opposing team member that can get there can enter. 
State that only a limited number of people (4-6) can hover round the base as defenders. 

Tie a piece of wool to the wrist of each player. (Do not allow players to tie onto their upper arm and then put on a sweater).

Blow a whistle so that people know that combat can commence. Players must then infiltrate the other team bases to steal their gold (potatoes). Players may only take one potato. However once out of the opposing base they may pass it to another player or can take it back to their base themselves. 

How to stop people: Before attacking anyone make sure you are wearing a life band. Only players with a band may remove other players bands. To remove their life simply take it off their arm .... However the other player does not have to let you do so. This then causes the fun bit i.e. rugby tackles, jumping people, royal rumbles. This may sound dangerous however if you ask for a little common sense this is not a problem.

Rules for safety:
No punching, 
No scratching .... deliberate (ask players with rings, earrings etc to remove them)
No gouging..
No kicking or tripping using the legs (ankle taps using the hand are ok)
Do not play near cliffs..
Water is ok as long as you would be happy to swim in it!!

"I have played this game in a group with ages ranging from 10-30ish. As long as the little ones go for little ones and big lads go for big lads everyone has fun. If you add a rule that adults cannot collect potatoes... The advantage of the strength and power of the big lads is balanced by the speed and agility of the little lads...

Human Pac Man

Sent in by Anne Crotty

"It is fun watching the reaction when a player is being escorted to jail and the roles change!"

A combination of Crows and Cranes and Leader Hunt. 

4-5 leaders hide around the wood/field/playing are each with a different colour marker. Players divide into two equal teams using coloured bands or similar to distinguish between them. Both teams have to find the leaders and collect as many marks from the leaders as possible, but at the start one team is also designated to hunt the other. If a player in the team being hunted is captured they have to be escorted back to a common jail (Players unescorted are allowed to escape but can not do so one once they have reached jail ) where they have to stay until teams switch roles as the leader running the game (eg the counsellor) can at any moment, change which team chases the other and uses a noise maker to signal teams to switch roles. Suggest switch roles fairly frequently, eg every 3-5 minutes, but at random times so players can't guess when it will happen. If you have a large playing area and it takes time to reach the jail you may want to lengthen the amount of time between switching teams. After a set amount of time (20 or so minutes) the counsellor counts how many marks each team collected from the leaders- whoever has the most wins.

Tactical points:


Equipment: Life bands or other token (e.g. potato see Fools Gold)

Establish 3 bases some distance from each other and divide into 2 relatively equal teams the "Raiders" and the "Runners" (number of players in each team can vary if some players are particularly good). At one base leave a cache of life bands.

The Runners are given task of transferring the life-bands from one base to the other. They can only transfer the bands one per person at a time, but they can send Runners out without a life band as decoys. The second team, the Raiders, has the third base from which to operate from and have to intercept as many life bands as possible. Once a Raider has captured a band they must return and deliver it to their base before trying to get more. Runner when caught must give up their life bands if they have one. When they've lost it they return to collect another.

Game continues until all bands are no longer in play having been transferred or captured. Team with most bands at the end wins.

Raiders may not take bands directly from the Runners bases and it may be worth setting an exclusion zone around the base to prevent Raiders from simply standing at the base and tagging Runners as they pick up new life bands. 

Variation ideas:

Raiders II (Enhanced Elves, Wizards & Giants) 


Split the group into two teams. Either create a base for each team of allow each team to find and make their own (A base can simply be a particular tree or landmark).

Teams go to their bases and each team member is given one life band and token of their choice (elf, wizard or giant). The token stops arguments as to who wins.

Giant defeats Elf

Elf defeats Wizard

Wizard defeats Giant

Each team member then goes out to try and get a band off opposing team members, but the token players hold decides who wins each meeting according to the system above. If tokens are the same nothing happens and players go to find another of the opposit team. The winning player gets the other’s life band and returns it to their base. The looser returns to their base to collect another life band and change tokens if they wish.

At the end of the game the winning team is one that has most life bands.

Hunt the Leader

Use a limited area of fields and/or woodland. Leaders can move freely around if they wish (advisable). Players have to collect signatures from each leader, but the objective is to collect as many signatures as possible in a time limit so the same leader can be found several times. However before another signature is given by any leader, each team must return to base to get their form counter signed by somebody at base.

Search and Rescue


Mark out the playing area with luminous marker posts, and widely scatter the coloured straws before teams arrive.

Make sure everybody has torches. Group is organised into teams who are told an aircraft carrying important isotopes has had to ditch its cargo in mid air. This has been traced to falling within the area of the playing area (describe the boundaries). Teams are told that they are each responsible for finding a particular isotope as well as the rare black one which gives each team bonus points (have examples). Teams may ONLY pick up their own isotopes.

Give the group an hour or so (depending on weather, etc) and then round everybody up for results and hot drinks before finishing.

This is an ideal surprise NWG for younger groups.


Night Wide Games

There's something about doing games and activities at night in the dark that makes it just that all the more exciting for children and youth. However if you are organising or taking part in any outdoor night activities, there are a number of Safety Guidelines you should be aware of, many of which are just as applicable to events organised during the day.

NWG's are best played as organised group events and preparation is everything to it being a success. Virtually all wide games (except Town Hunt…) lend themselves to being played at night, but for various reasons its better to use games where the rules are relatively simple!

Scout out the area you are considering using during the day. Use natural boundaries where possible that can be easily found at night, but also consider buying or making luminous marker posts (eg a small LED lights and attached to short waist high post or use luminescent marker paint, or a number of chemical glo-sticks).
Because it's dark open fields can be used just as well as woodland for hiding.

As well as it being a known planned event for groups, if the group is staying away on holiday an added buzz can come through the actual event being kept secret from them. About half an hour after bed or 'lights out' get everybody up… just remember to make sure they put something on to keep warm and to take torches with them... and have hot drinks ready for later.


Life bands - Some form of 'token'. This is usually coloured bits of wool tied around a wrist or pieces of coloured card carried around, etc. But the basic rule applies that you can only be actively part of the game with one. Without it you must return to base camp.