Camouflage is really the gold standard of woodland wide games. This one has it all; hiding in the undergrowth, dashing through the woods against a ticking clock and catching out your friends and enemies. Why don’t they play this at Hogwarts? They probably do.
Start by choosing someone to be it, or the ‘hunter’. Tell them that they must stand by a tree with their eyes closed, call ‘camouflage!’ and start to count backwards from twenty to zero. You must be able to trust your volunteer not to look when they shouldn’t. Tie a scarf around their head to make sure.
The other players use this time to run into the woods and seek a hiding place. Behind a tree trunk, under a holly bush or in a large muddy puddle. It doesn’t matter where they hide, but all players must be able to see the hunter at all times.
The hunter then must try to spot the others by calling out their location or piece of clothing such as ‘I can see Daisy with her pink wellies behind the nettles’. And poor Daisy is OUT; she must spend the remainder of the game sitting forlornly on the graveyard log. You mustn’t pity her too much, it is her own fault for wearing pink wellies in the woods.
This carries on until the hunter draws a blank. He (or she) then closes his eyes again and with outstretched arms calls ‘Food and Water!’ He counts backwards from twenty again while the others must run in and high-five his hand, before choosing a new hiding place. The hunter opens his eyes on reaching zero, and if he sees anyone still running, they’re OUT.
If the game is dragging on and the hunter is getting desperate, another trick is to call ‘Numbers!’ He holds up a number of fingers on one hand (his own hand, obviously) and the others have to risk sneaking a look to see how many there are. Anyone spotted peeking is OUT. Players must remember this number.
For those hardy few remaining in their hiding places, the end of the game comes when the hunter gives up the ghost and calls ‘Game Over’. Survivors must now emerge and approach the hunter, whispering the number in the hunter’s ear to prove they hadn’t spent the last ten minutes asleep under a bush. The winner is the player who managed to hide closest to the hunter without being spotted.
A genius cross between Hide and Seek and The Hunger Games, I have known classes of children to request this game more than any other. It is a woodland classic which rewards stealth and patience over speed or hurly-burly. Play it again, and repeat.