Teachable Moments Happen in “Advanced Hide n’ Seek” at Camp Tuku

There are two momentous, camp-wide events at Camp Tuku that are filled with teachable moments for our campers: Capture the Counselor and Toucan-a-thon. Capture the Counselor is an “advanced hide n’ seek” game that takes place early in the camp week. Toucan-a-thon occurs at the end of the week, and we’ll talk about that event in an upcoming blog post. You might be wondering, just what are the teachable moments that come from a game based on finding a counselor whose hiding out somewhere around camp? Read on to find out…

Teachable Moment #1:  Teamwork Gets the Job Done

Since you may not be familiar, let’s review the premise for Capture the Counselor. One counselor from each bunk is given a stamp to take with them to a hiding spot within specific camp boundaries. The counselor with the toucan stamp is worth the most points. Counselors with other animal stamps are worth varying points. The idea is for each bunk to work together to

(1) find as many counselors in hiding as possible
(2) be the bunk that finds the counselor with the toucan, and
(3) have the most points tallied at the end of the night to be declared the winning bunk.


One other task:  When a counselor is found, the campers have to ask questions about which animal stamp they counselor possesses. That’s right–they just get the stamp for finding the counselor, they have to use reasoning and creative thinking to discover that information!

Once all counselors are in hiding, a whistle is blow to indicate it is time for the bunk teams to go seeking. The game starts after dinner and ends at dark, so there is limited time to work with. The campers have to strategize their search and they can’t separate into smaller groups. So the first teachable moment in this advanced game of hide ‘n seek is to learn the value of teamwork to get the job done.

For some teams, getting started was the hardest part:  While most teams, quickly identified leaders or co-leaders and hit the ground running with a game plan, others could not agree on which direction to move in first. A few teams struggled to identify a leader. And in other groups, the identified leader was challenged by quarreling teammates!

Teachable Moment #2:  Mindfulness isn’t Just for Meditating

For the teams that faced internal challenges with excusing a strategy, there always seemed to be group member who brought up a mindfulness skill to help the group refocus:

“Hey, we aren’t getting anywhere with arguing and other teams are going to get ahead of us. You guys need to take a few mindful breaths and quit arguing or we’ll just be standing here all night!” said a member of an 11-12 year old boys’ bunk.

When a designated leader wasn’t quite working out, someone always stepped-up — but not to take over. Rather, to help out and co-lead together. This was seen with a group of 13-14 year old female campers. The designated leader wasn’t really sure of direction as dusk fell across the camp. A teammate saw her anxiety rising and said, “Don’t worry. We’ll do this together. We’ll keep moving toward one of the main buildings to search around there.”  Smiles, hand holding, and the girls were off to the next hidden counselor.

Teachable Moment #3:  Slow-down and Take Turns

When a team found a counselor, the tendency was to bombard the counselor with questions. At times, it was like verbal firecrackers going off so fast, the counselor didn’t know which kid asked what question or who to answer first. One wise 9 year old boy finally — and loudly — told his team “Slow down and take turns so she can hear the questions and we can all hear the answers.”

The teams also learned to do something else quite well:  slowing-down and watching other teams. If it looked like a team was successful, they knew to move in that direction. They also strategized “decoys” to keep other teams off their trail to a hidden counselor.

We can’t imagine a more fun way to teach kids how to strategize, communicate, work together, and use logic and reasoning along with creative and mindful approaches to playing a game.

Below, our counselors really found some great places to hide!