Careful where you step! Alligator Swamp is a variation of the wildly popular “Don’t Touch The Lava” Game that encourages more teamwork and group strategy. Your youth will have a blast coming up with ideas to cross the “swamp” while leaving no one behind.
Alligator Swamp can be played indoors or outdoors, adjusted for both big and small groups, as well as modified for both short and longer gameplay times.
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The basic gameplay of Alligator Swamp challenges youth to cross a wide expanse of “swamp” filled with alligators, with only exposed “logs” above the water to stand upon. The game begins with all youth lined up on one side of the room in the “cabin” with the goal being to cross to the other side and reach “town”.
However, Alligator Swamp requires all youth to strategize and work together in order to cross the “swamp,” because the “logs” sink into the swamp if they are not constantly stood upon by a youth. If a “log” sinks because no one is standing on it, and there are still youth left behind at the “cabin” and no already making their way across the swamp, everyone has to return back to the “cabin” and start again.
Setting Up Alligator Swamp Game Area
Any flat, open area can be used for playing Alligator Swamp, indoors or outdoors. You’ll need to establish two zones in the space on opposite sides. The “cabin” is the starting zone, and “town” is the finish zone. Between the “cabin” and “town,” place your “logs” spaced so that students can easily hop between them.
Keep in mind that any object you decide to use as “logs” should be sure-footed, non-slippery.
Smaller “logs”, which can only hold two people, can be used strategically, while larger “logs” that can hold more youth can be used as staging areas across the “swamp”.
All areas between the “logs” that are not known the “cabin” or “town” is the “swamp”.
For fun and variety, you can also add rolling objects (skateboard, wagons, carts, etc), known as “rafts” to the playing area. You can then set up “logs” with distances too far to leap between, requiring students to use a “raft” to reach the next log.
Plan to ask adult leaders and volunteers dispersed throughout the “swamp” to serve as “alligators”, who are looking to see if anyone touches the “swamp”.
Alligator Swamp Game Instructions (Read Aloud To Group)
We’re going to play a game called “Alligator Swamp!” This game is a variation of “Don’t Touch The Lava”, but the objective is for everyone to work together to safely cross from the starting zone, known as the “cabin,” to the otherside in order to reach the goal, which is known as “town.” To play the game, everyone lines up at the “cabin” and the first volunteer to begin crossing leaps to the first “log,” which are the safe zones for crossing the “swamp” which is the area in between “cabin” and “town”.
However, once someone lands on a “log,” it must remain occupied by at least one person, or otherwise the “log” will sink and can no longer be used. Once everyone has made it past a “log” on the way to “town,” the final person can leave the “log” and move on. There is no limit to the number of people who can stand on a “log” at once, so long as there is space and they don’t fall into the “swamp”.
If a “log” sinks and there are still people waiting to cross, the mission has failed and everyone has to start over again at the cabin.
The mission also fails if anyone touches the “swamp” for any reason.
We will have volunteers serving as “alligators” spread throughout the “swamp” looking to see if anyone touches “the swamp” or if any “logs” sink because they are unoccupied. If they catch you, the entire group will need to start from the beginning!
NOTE: Be sure to explain any other objects you’ve added to the game area, such as rolling “rafts”.
Larger groups can be split into two or more teams and timed, competing for the fastest time to cross the “swamp”.
The game can also be sped up and made more challenging with just a single group by adding a timer. How long to set the time will depend on how large your playing area is, as well as the size of your group(s). Have a volunteer test run the course to get a rough estimate of how long it should take to cross and set your timer accordingly.