Tug-of-War Tournament


A game we played at the Skills Showdown was tug-of-war. Not just any tug-of-war, though, this was tournament-style, complete with brackets! Long rounds and several levels of elimination meant that each patrol got to play quite a bit. We had five patrols, and each patrol got to do four tugs before the first elimination level. Only one patrol was removed from each elimination. What a great activity!

How to Play

This game starts with an announcement: we need adult leader help. All adults are directed over to one spot. Next is the announcement that we’re going to play a big game of tug-of war. This is a tournament, where each patrol will be competing against the other patrols to determine the grand champions!

To make the game more fun--and use the adult leader volunteers--each patrol is given five fun-size Snickers bars. They can use one of these to “purchase” an adult leader for one round of tug-of-war. The "purchase" is good for only one round. The bracket lets Scouts see which patrol they will face up against next and decide whether or not it will be worthwhile to "purchase" for this round, and if so, how many adults to "purchase."

The winning team gets the ribbon!

How the Game Went

Scouts were definitely excited about this game--there was a resounding cheer at the announcement! Adults were mildly interested in the tug, though their excitement grew quite a bit as the game progressed and Scouts became even more excited.

I did three things with this game that really made it much more exciting than just a typical tug-of-war, and I think they made it a fantastic event:

  • Brackets and elimination rounds ensured that each patrol got to tug at least four times. Four of the patrols got to tug five times, three patrols six times and two patrols seven times. In total, we completed 22 rounds of tug of war! With that many rounds, I kept the "winning distance" short: to win, you only needed to pull the other patrol about three feet.
  • The "purchase an adult" idea was a great twist. The Scouts really enjoyed trying to weigh their chances of winning against the other patrol. They would first try to assess if they could beat the other patrol on their own, then they'd try to decide if they needed to purchase an adult. And even then they were a little cautious with their spending because they knew more rounds were coming up. A lot of consideration went into how they could win each round.
  • Nobody was worried about losing their round. With so many elimination levels and only one patrol getting eliminated each time, they all knew that they could afford to lose some, and once they were eliminated, it wasn't a big deal because they had already played so much.

Purchasing adult help quickly grew into something bigger: candy bars were no longer enough, and Scouts were bring out leftover pretzels from lunch and other snacks to barter with. The adults would play patrols off of each other to get the best treats. Eventually it even moved beyond food: "dance like ballerinas" and "lay on the ground and pretend you're swimming" were two of my favorites. It became a game within a game.

Finally we came to the last round of the game, to determine the grand champion and ribbon winners. The Scorpion and Moose patrols were weighing their options and considering their purchases. Eventually they were all ready: each patrol had purchased the remaining half of the Troop! Everybody was on the rope for one patrol or the other. I yelled "go!" and saw them at a standstill. For a good five or ten seconds it didn't look like either side would budge, then.. snap! The rope broke, right in the middle!

We decided this was a do-over round, but it had to be "sane." Only the two patrols and adults they purchased could be on the rope. That, of course, resulted in a great tug between the two patrols, and a great finish to the game.

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Dan & Sherree & Patrick currently uses Facebook for comments. Older comments are still here for readers, though. Read old comments »

Would like to get a few more details on this. Drop me a line if you would at kenny1016@yahoo.com Thanks. Troop 291 committee chair Ken Everitt

Could you email me a copy of your brackets used for competition?

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