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Night time walks & co

All cats are grey by night

Night time walks or adventure games at night in the dark woods are generally a part of every camp program. Depending on the program aspects in the late evening or in the night, this can be an especially exciting experience for the kids. Darkness and night times has something tense and exciting and it has something unusual, maybe because we spend we spend more time in daylight and only experience a little of the darkness (expect when we are asleep). In order to heighten the tension somewhat on such “night activities” the leaders can build in a few horror effects. However this can sometimes lead to a “certain type” of (negative) experience, dependent on the situation.

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Goals / Senses

Do you really want to shock or frighten the children or youths, is that the goal? Or do you want to challenge the kids and give them a thrill? Obviously there are many ideas (see some ideas below); you will find even more horror ideas and thrilling ideas in the films.

However, don’t you think that a goal worth striving for is to move around in the dark without any fear and to learn about living in the dark? You might want to move around in the woods using a compass or the tree tops for directions. You can also start off a great adventure game in the night without any “fear” aspects and without worrying that some unknown grizzly monster will jump out of the undergrowth.

You might simply want to experience nature in a new way. At night, all of the senses are concentrated on sounds and you might want to hear nature instead of seeing nature for once. You might want to discover animals by torch light on a night time walk, find some glow worms, listen to the owls or wonder over the beautiful sky of stars. Just like a normal walk/hike by daylight, there are brilliant chances to talk on a night time walk. This means that you will get to know the kids better.

General considerations

  • Fear of the dark, fear of the unknown, scared of the bad man

    Everyone knows about fear of the dark or has already experienced this before. Children are told to hurry home when it gets dark and have heard about what the “bad man does with children at night in the woods“. They might have read about murderers who bury their corpses in the woods at night. It is no wonder that children are scared and nervous when they walk through the woods alone at night.

  • Fears due to brutal videos / computer games

    The kids of today grow up with brutal computer games and are more likely to see scary videos. These children seem to be especially scared of the dark because a monster or a murderer could be hiding behind every corner or bush.

  • Panic

    The fear of being alone can turn into panic if the guardians are suddenly missing or if the kids have gotten lost. Panic can break out if things suddenly happen which the kids perceive to be bad, because they have seen a similar situation in the films or heard of such things in stories. If they suddenly find themselves in a similar situation as what they have recognised as scary, the fear is bound to come.

  • Your view – a child’s view – a parent’s view

    Your own experiences might not necessarily match up with the things experienced by the child. You must therefore think beyond your own experiences. Your view of something “acceptable” can be very different from what the parents of the child find acceptable. They might find one or two things to be “totally mad”.

The participants

  • Age of the kids

    Younger children are more scared of the dark than older children. However no one can judge the exact age limit. A 12-13 year old might be more scared than an 8-9 year old.

  • Knowledge of the kids

    The better you know your group/camp members the better you will know what you can expect from them. The less you know about the kids, the more carefully you should plan your night time actions.

  • Free choice

    Whether torches are allowed or whether they are better left at home is a matter of opinion and can be left out if necessary. The most important thing is that taking part in such an activity is a free choice. That means that there should be no pressure to walk along a path along or to take part in any braveness tests. Every child which does not want to do this should not have to. It is also wrong to try and talk the kids into taking part or to label them as cowards.

  • Observation and monitoring

    Watch your kids carefully and break off any activity as soon as you notice that the kids start to panic or there is the danger that they take the wrong turn in the woods.

Playing field

  • Any playing areas should be chosen so that getting lost or endless running around in circles is not possible.
  • A clear playing field border should be available (edge of woods, street) and should be marked out/light up as required.
  • Take a careful look at the playing/hike area beforehand (check for nettles or thorny bushes in the area) so that you know about any danger points and can clear them out of the way or choose a more suitable area.


Injury dangers such as stumbling, cliffs, water, branches and nettles are easy to recognise during the day but not at night. The dangers are greatly increased if the kids start running away out of fear.

  • A hunter who is on a night hunt might confuse your group with wild animals.
  • An encounter with wild animals, especially with wild boars, is also a source of danger.
  • Anyone who runs through the woods with burning torches or throws fireworks for attacks or to frighten other people, not only face the danger of starting a forest fire or causing physical damage to others.


Night time activities which are not well planned can have the following results:

  • Homesickness
  • Trauma, experiences which kids cannot forget, bed wetting, kids are scared of the dark/going into the cellar etc.
  • The parents might even claim against the youth leader for physical damage, breach of responsibility laws, breach of welfare laws etc.

These consequences do not necessarily appear straight away. Lots of kids do not say anything out of pure fear and the parents wonder why their children are more scared of the dark than before the camp. Complaints might come from the parents a while later.


You should think carefully about if and how a night action should be run and which “components” and whether certain “horror effects” or ideas for heightening the excitement level should be built in. It really is better to stay away from such horror shocks if the children are very small or if you do not know the children very well and cannot judge how they would react. You can use one or two tense moments with older children. With teenagers with a big mouth, you can use these aspects to find really find out if their bark is worse than their bite.

If you plan to undertake an action for the whole night you should ask the forester/land owner/hunters for permission – not that any misunderstandings arise.

Ideas for night activities

This way to the night activities ideas

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