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The settlers – a game afternoon

A game for approx. 120 Kids played by the EC Bezirk Schwäbisch Hall on a summer camp 2003 Provided by Matthias Zimmer (EC-Sulzdorf) with kind permission for Praxis-Jugendarbeit (youthwork-practice) in December 2003.


The basic principle is a station run. Using the points which are won at the various stations, a street plan can be built up in the middle. If a point which is suitable to inhabit is reached, the group builds a town.

Course of events

Each group starts at an agreed station. The following stations can be chosen randomly. Points between 0 and 50 (in fives) can be achieved. Each station can only be visited once. The points can be exchanged for threads at the planning department. One centimetre is awarded for one point. The game plan is drawn out on a 2x2m piece of plywood with the countryside, rivers, woods, mountains and possible settlements. A number of little nails are also hammered into the wood. When the first group comes to the board, they choose a starting point at the edge. The thread can then be laid from this starting point. The nails are the turning points. Every time a group reaches a settlement point which is not yet inhabited, a town is built in their team colours. They may also direct play towards towns which are already built, however only half the points are awarded. The game is over for the group when each station has been visited one time.

The game plan

The board is split into 2-4 pieces so that transport is possible. The rivers are marked in blue, hills and mountains are marked in grey and woods are symbolised with dark green. The rest of the surface is green. There are three types of possible settling points. These are small, middle and large sized towns. They are represented by squares in appropriate sizes. Rivers can only be crossed at the fords marked out on the board. The thread will then be wrapped around the ford nails twice. Mountains cannot be crossed over. A thread which goes through the woods must be wrapped around the nails three times (there, back and there again). The nails are hammered into the board to your own requirements. There should be enough so that there are lots of diversion possibilities. All in all, there is a lot of preparation involved but it is worth it!


  • Digging a well

    Plastic bags are placed in a tub and sand is thrown over them. The plastic bags represent the ground water. The aim is for the kids to dig for water with teaspoons. The time is recorded.

  • Hammering nails

    The harsh daily life of a settler, lots of things have to be built and hammered. Unfortunately it can often be the case that the best tools for the job are not available. VERY small nails must be hammered into a board with a VERY large hammer.

  • Wild herb knowledge

    When a new settlement is built up, the inhabitants have to try and survive with what Mother Nature provides them. Different plants must be recognised by taste. (Daisies, dandelions, spinach dock, wheat, barley etc)

  • Contact with the natives

    Obviously it is very important to take consideration of the traditions and customs of the indigenous people. A member of staff is sitting at the station dressed as a native. The kids try to get closer to him with a ritual. A greeting ritual must be agreed and communicated amongst the group and then a tea ritual with Mate-Tea from Paraguay must be performed. The time required is recorded.

  • Source

    A refreshment station without any points

  • Sawing

    When building a settlement, there is obviously a lot of precision sawing to be done. Try to saw off a piece of wood exactly 50cm long.

  • Water provisions

    When the water in the settlement becomes a bit tight, the settlers must fetch some more. You can also think up an unusual way of transporting the water i.e. carrying water in the mouth and spitting it into a bottle.

  • Water provisions 2

    Even more unusual containers: Water must be transported in a Wellington boot worn by the player.

  • More water

    In the old days the wheel barrows were even more primitive: Two kids make a wheel barrow. A bucket of water is placed on the back of the player in front -> obstacle course.

  • Search for meat

    Protein from meat is also very important. Worms are therefore a fantastic form of nourishment. Jelly worms (Haribo for example) are to be found in a container of mulch, turf and water.

  • Removals

    The settlers obviously have to move house often. Then they have to pack everything. As many loose objects as possible have to be thrown into a sack in a certain amount of time.

  • Storm rain

    A sudden heavy rainfall before the hut is finished can have nasty consequences. The aim is to find a refuge as soon as possible. The whole group has to hide under a plank as quickly as possible. A bucket is thrown over them to check if the whole group is under the shelter.

  • Important survival general knowledge

    Survival is almost impossible without a basic knowledge of settling: a quiz.

  • Transporting the injured

    On the road there are always injured settlers who then have to be carried. The kids must carry a member of staff on a stretcher (table top/plank).

  • Building a house on difficult ground

    The features of the landscape are not always ideal for building a house in the settlement. Developments on difficult ground also have to be undertaken. A hole is drilled in the middle of a board through which a piece of rope is fed. The board is hung up on this rope. Using Jenga blocks, the kids must now build a tower on the board: the higher the better.

  • Sewing stinky clothes

    In the settlement all of the clothes have to be made by hand. It might happen that some pieces of fabric have an unpleasant smell. This means that the fabric has to be held as far from the nose as possible. Try to thread a needle with stretched out arms.

  • Over the lake

    When the settlers want to cross a lake it is important to build a stable boat quickly and with few materials. Make as many boats as possible from a piece of newspaper.

  • Camel ride

    The animals in foreign areas are unlikely to be used to humans. The settlers will have to develop new riding techniques. Two children crawl on all fours on the ground. The child at the back grabs the ankles of the front player. A white sheet is placed over both of them. A third child sits crossed legged on the back. -> Obstacle course

  • Brief fire

    Materials for starting a fire must be used sparingly in the wilderness. A burning match must be passed around the group as often as possible.

  • Animal tracks

    Animal tracks are drawn on a piece of paper which is cut up into a puzzle. The kids must put the puzzle together and then guess which animals made the tracks.

  • Buried treasure

    In new settlement areas there is often buried treasure which is just waiting to be dug up. Diamonds (made of plastic) must be found in a muddy pool.

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