Ages 8 and up. Groups of two to eight. If more are participating, break them into a few groups.

Materials: Topics for argument appropriate to the age group.

This is an activity used at Camp Quest to encourage kids to think on their feet and argue both sides of an issue. It's adapted from an activity called "Chain Debate" that is used as a warmup for high school policy debate teams. It's good for small groups of kids ages 8 and up. It can also be used as a way to air a disagreement in the group and get the issues on the table. The lesson here is that there are multiple sides to issues. Understanding the arguments of people who disagree with you can help you make better arguments for your own position—or may even change your mind. When you are working with a group, you may not agree, but you can find a way to discuss the issue and work together.

1. Sit in a circle with the group.

2. Explain that you're going to start a topic, and each person has to respond to the argument made by the person who went directly before her. No matter what her personal beliefs are, she should argue against the point made by the person immediately before her.

3. Start a topic by stating a position and giving a reason. For example, "Kids should wear uniforms to school because then they don't have to compete with each other over whose family can afford the coolest designer clothes."

4. The person next to you then responds. For example, "Kids shouldn't have to wear school uniforms because wearing their own clothes allows them to express their individuality, which they can do even with inexpensive clothes."

5. The next person argues against the person immediately before him. It's important to point out that this person should respond to the new reason being offered, rather than just restating what the first person said. For example, "Individuality can be expressed by kids in other ways at school, and since the school should be an environment where kids focus on learning, they should wear school uniforms so that they aren't distracted by clothes."

6. Go around until everyone has had at least one turn. In smaller groups you may want to go around the circle with the same issue more than once. If you have an odd number of participants in the circle, the second time around everyone will argue the opposite side as before. You can achieve this with an even number by having the organizer pass to the next person when it comes back around to his or her turn.

Tips: Selecting topics that are relevant and approachable to kids in the age group you are working with helps make this activity a success. Ideas include school uniforms, curfews, household chores, homework. Pick something that kids will know enough about that they can come up with reasons and something that clearly has two points of view that can be defended somewhat equally. For older participants, choose topics that are more complex or abstract. Have several topic choices written down when you start the activity, and if one topic isn't working well, move on to something else.

All ages, for groups of any size

Materials: none needed; can use paper and pencils or markers

Gather the group together and let everyone know that you're going to be telling (or writing) stories. But there is a catch: You're going to tell them together. Form a circle. The first person in the circle offers a single word to begin the story. Each person adds just one word to the story when it comes around. The word has to fit grammatically with what has been said before—otherwise it can be anything you want. Keep going until the story comes to a natural stopping point.

Alternative 1: Instead of going around in a circle, have someone act as the "pointer" and point to whomever they want to add the next word.

Alternative 2: Pass around a piece of paper and have each person add his or her word in writing, then at the end have someone read the whole story aloud. This way no one knows what is happening in the story until the paper reaches him or her, and no one knows the whole story until the end.

Alternative 3: Instead of adding just one word, have participants add a certain number of words or a whole sentence.

Materials: an open, space safe for running around

One person starts out "it" and tries to tag others. When someone is tagged, instead of just that person being it, that person joins hands with the person who is it. Together they try to tag more people. The "it" blob grows until everyone has been tagged.

Alternative: If playing with a large group, you can have the "it" blob break in half and form two blobs once you reach a certain number.

All ages; best for ten or more participants

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