Frenzied Strategy

Strategy Games of the World

The game was called “Frenzy” and it didn’t take long to understand why.

Staff members at the Scout Base Camp in St. Paul dumped four hula hoops and a few dozen colorful plastic balls onto the grass. The boys’ only instructions were “to work together to get all the balls into the hoops.”

As soon as the colored balls hit the ground, the excited young boys burst into action, grabbing, running, tossing, and wrestling to get the most balls into their group’s hula hoop. Various strategies arose as the kids contemplated how to get control of the most balls. We had the “nesters” who sat in the middle of the hoop and hoarded the group’s balls. Then there were the stealers, who grabbed balls from other groups’ hoops and tossed them into their own. There were the grapplers who wrestled balls away from others, and sneakers who stole around the outskirts grabbing errant balls to keep as their own. It was frenzied chaos.

After the first round, the boys discussed the result. “Why were you unable to accomplish the goal?” asked a Base Camp staff member.

“Because everyone was stealing and taking all the balls,” said Thomas.

“Every team was trying to get all the balls, and we would get nowhere,” added Luke.

“Everyone was targeting ours,” complained one young man. Another replied: “Yeah, because you had the most!” Who knew second and third-grade boys were so competitive? Lol

The group discussed strategies that might be more effective. They suggested sitting on the balls so others couldn’t get to them, or ganging up to take balls from the group with the most. Reed suggested, “How about bringing the hoops to the balls?”

One young man had a striking thought. “What if we stack the hoops on top of each other?” Liam suggested.

The beginning of the second round of Frenzy started much the same as the first, until someone remembered Liam’s comment. It was an epiphany. Suddenly two hoops were stacked and two groups were working together. Then another group joined, and finally all four hoops were stacked and the balls were contained together within them.

What was the trick? asked the Camp counselors. “To work together!” the boys cried.

Jareer summed it up. “We were all working against each other in the first round, but in the second, we all worked together.”

The boys had a similar experience with a bean bag toss game earlier in the day. “We threw and catched bean bags,” explained Kian, “and the second time we had to do it in the same order. Once we even did it backwards.”

Luke and Jareer said it was difficult at first to remember the order to toss the bean bags, especially when they had five bags going at once. “You had to remember who you go to and who goes to you,” Luke said. Working together, the boys figured out strategies that helped the game to run smoothly.

Archie said the team building was fun, and he also liked the chance to try archery. “The bow’s heavy and it’s hard to pull the string back,” he said.

“But, when you get to the way back, it’s easy,” Tiago explained. Tiago had success hitting the targets, “but I didn’t get the bullseye,” he said. Archie was happy that he was able to hit the blue and red sections of the target on his first tries.

Lessons in strategy will follow the boys back into the classroom tomorrow where they will apply the ideas to board games from around the world. Self-proclaimed electronics “gamer” Luke said he is enjoying the board games. “For board games, you have to have more strategy,” he said.

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