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Crossing the Amazon
This is an indoor game that can be adapted for different ages, or for the outdoors. It reinforces teamwork and quick thinking. The game as presented here would not be suitable for players under the age of ten or so [actually, it has been used successfully with girls of Brownie age, i.e. 7-10 years. See Comments below.]. Adapt as necessary to your girls.
You are a group of treasure hunters in Brazil. You recently heard about a new archaeological discovery in Peru.
Your task is to cross the Amazon River, find the new site, steal some treasure, and return safely to Brazil. Each person must bring back at least two artefacts. You must hide the artefacts in your clothing so that they are not easily discovered.
Beware! The river has piranhas in it, and they can strip a body to its bones in a matter of minutes! If you slip and fall into the river (onto the floor), you are dead. Be especially careful at the river bank, because alligators are known to live on the bank.
Watch out for the Border Patrol, who will be patrolling the river. If you are caught by the Patrol, you must provide a cover story for why you are there. If your story is not plausible, you are likely to be searched for stolen treasure. Make sure you have your cover story ready.
Set up an obstacle course of chairs upon which the players must travel. It works well if each Patrol sets up an obstacle course, knowing that another Patrol will be using their course. This way they have the chance to make the course more difficult. I cheated: with two Patrols, I asked them to set up a course that the other Patrol would be using, but neglected to tell them that they would be returning by the course they themselves had set up!
You need as many adult helpers as there are patrols: these are the Border Patrol. Their duty is to catch thieves, and to tell the players when they have fallen into the river and lost a limb or a life. The Border Patrol also needs to be available at tricky parts of the obstacle course to steady the players if necessary.
At the end of the obstacle course, lay a long thick rope (e.g. a lifeline) on the floor between the obstacle course and the river edge (see the pic above). This is the river bank, where alligators sleep. To make the alligators, have one person at each end of the rope to swish it from side to side. The players must time their leap to the river bank so that they are not touched by the rope (alligators). Use your evil judgement to decide what limbs, if any, they lose if they are caught by an alligator.
The treasure can be hidden anywhere on or near the river bank.
The Border Patrol may harass any travellers as much as they like. If their story is not plausible, or their body language indicates something is wrong, call them on it, and take away any treasure you find. Be prepared for bribery!
To make it harder, give each Patrol a heavy patrol box to carry both ways over the river, and/or assign injuries to selected players, e.g. blinded by an Amazonian insect, broken arm, calf muscle ripped by an alligator etc.
The first time we played this, we had several Patrols. We leaders also strung up a spider's web over the river that the girls had to wriggle through, made of a network of ropes and cords suspended from the rafters. This added to the difficulty of the game. A few well chosen animal screams don't go amiss, either.
This game is a lot of fun, and develops quick thinking, agility, teamwork and leadership. My girls love it, and so do the adult helpers.
‘The Brownies loved Crossing the Amazon. It was great seeing them work in Patrols, especially taking the Patrol box across the river. They were on the lookout for crocs and falling logs, and every time they got bitten by a croc or hit by a falling log they got frustrated, but enjoyed the challenge of out witting the crocs and logs!
Isabella Ramirra, Leader of 1B Haberfield Brownies. Used with Isabella's permission, 18th September 2009