It’s 6:45 as you arrive, and everything is still pretty quiet in the church basement. This is your third meeting as a ranger of the local Stockade and you wanted to be on hand early to help clear away the chairs for tonight’s meeting. It seems like only a minute has gone by, but now it’s 6:55 and 15 boys arrive on the spot. The quiet has now suddenly turned to NOISE. The noise only 15 energy-charged boys can make as they prepare for an evening of Action.
One of the other leaders begins an informal game of Dodge Ball to keep the boys busy. A couple minutes pass and 15 more boys arrive. Soon “Dodge Ball” turns into a shouting game of “LOOK OUT!” or “GET OUT OF THE WAY!” ball.
“The troops are sure active tonight you say to yourself.” “Hey, Joe, how ya doin’!” you shout to another leader who leans in closer and responds, “What! I’m sorry, but I can’t seem to hear you!”
“HOW YA DOIN’, JOE!”
“OH FINE, FINE. BOYS SURE ARE ACTIVE TONIGHT!”
“YES THEY ARE! LISTEN, I’VE GOT A FAVOR TO ASK OF YOU!”
“OH SURE, ANYTHING, ASK ON!”
“JOE, I NEED YOU TO LEAD A COUPLE OF THE GAMES TONIGHT. THINK YOU CAN HANDLE IT?!
With that the noise begins to fade as you pass out on the floor.
Anyone experienced in working with a group of boys knows the amount of effort that is
required to successfully help them channel their energy into meaningful activity. It takes a plan; a strategy. You have got to think ahead and work it out before you can tackle that kind of challenge. An effective strategy in well-planned game time involves much more than an organized set of activities where boys can burn off some energy. A leader can use game time as one of his most effective tools toward building meaningful relationships with a boy. This concept puts a game time in proper perspective with the main purpose of a good boys’ program. A meaningful relationship between a man and a boy is the best means for influencing value-formation in growing boys.
A leader can use game time as one of his most effective tools toward building meaningful relationships with a boy.
The developmental and training aspects of games are a major contribution to a boy’s program. The personality of both leaders and boys are revealed through play activities. Men and boys can let down their hair, so to speak, and be themselves. Real attitudes will tend to reveal themselves more within the context of challenge and competition. Game time is one of the best opportunities for men and boy alike to get to know each other beyond a name and handshake. Boys will confide in men they trust. Trust comes when the boy realizes that the leader is fair and honest in his decisions made in games.
Developing the whole boy
One does not work with a group of young boys too long before he discovers their abundance of physical energy. If we could somehow tap that energy we would probably never need to worry about an energy crisis again. Though games make a considerable contribution to the physical development of boys, their value is not excusive to a person’s physical development. It is more correct to view game activities contributing to the development of the whole person. Let us examine this further.
Age group differences
In order to see the value of games in proper perspective, a leader needs to consider the normal development of the particular age of boys he’s working with. Stockade boys are at an age when it is important for them to build good foundations in physical skills and teamwork. Individual achievement is stressed in a team situation. However, a high degree of team effort where a boy must be concerned more about how he relates to the team as opposed to himself is generally not recommended for this age group. Younger boys, generally, are still individualistic in their play. Relays, on the other hand, work well because they allow for boys to work together with each individually contributing his part, one at a time. This is the first step in a well-developed ability in team efforts.
Boys of age 8 and 9 are very often are not fully developed in coordination. For many of them, games requiring firm muscle coordination may end up more a frustration than a joy. Boys 11 and 12 are usually further along in their development and will easily over power the younger ones. It is important to be carful how you match these boys to each other.
A variety of games should be planned, but junior aged boys enjoy repetition and do not readily tire of games which are repeated. Effective leadership of junior-age games calls for CLEAR, SIMPLE explanation and CONSISTENT authority in enforcing rules. Scores may be kept, but it is best not to give prizes for winning lest competition becomes over emphasized and boys miss the fun aspect of games.
Battalion boys of ages 12-18, on the other hand, find a great challenge in competitive teamwork. A variety of games is important to retain their interest. An action packed game period gives young men a chance to “let off steam” while they develop skills, alertness, and sportsmanship. Though young men are more mature emotionally, some will still find it difficult to be the loser. The leaders example of good sportsmanship will be the best teaching tool.
Though fair play is very important for both age groups, it is especially important to young men because they are much more aware of it. This stems from the fact that older boys are much more aware of the events and people around them in the context of a game. Be consistent in your application of the rules, and do not allow the boys to overpower the decisions of the “referees.” They may complain, but actually they prefer the discipline.
They may complain, but actually they prefer the discipline.
Valuable Leadership Training
Game leadership is an important part of leadership training. The young leader who can control his boys during the game period will have learned how to handle boys at most any time, for there is a transfer of the leader’s ability and respect. A junior leader also develops leadership characteristics through game leadership and game participation. While leading games he obtains the respect of the other boys as well as learning how to lead a game. The junior leader who has the ability to inspire his teammates to greater effort during the game, has acquired a valuable quality of leadership.
Developing group unity
Boys naturally like to play games. The physical action, the give-and-take, and the challenge of competition, are means of directing the abundant energy that boys possess. Using the natural attractiveness of play activities in a meaningful way enables the leader to develop an enthusiastic group. The appeal of games encourages fellows to bring their friends because they can assure them of a good time. This is NOT to say that games are simply “bait” to get membership. Rather, they are a natural part of a boy’s life. Another important benefit of a properly managed game time are that social harriers can be torn down and friendships can be built in the dependence of one team member upon another.
This is NOT to say that games are simply “bait” to get membership. Rather, they are a natural part of a boy’s life
Alertness and quick decision-making are requisites for many games. Other types of activities require deep concentration before action is taken. The mind is kept active through participation in games.
It is not long before the hot-heads in a group are discovered. The give-and-take of play activities require a sense of restraint and fair play.