Games, Challenges and Competitions

Extreme Musical Chairs

Recently, I caught an episode of a program called Oh Sit! which was a game show on the CW based around the classic game of musical chairs (you can see a video of it at the bottom of the page). While the Nickelodeon-ish game for adults was not very entertaining, for a number of reasons (bad commentary, mean spirited players, etc.), it did occur to me that this could be a lot of fun at camp, with some modifications, of course.

Musical chairs has always been a fun and popular game with kids. It can also get a little too intense at the end when a few kids are pushing and shoving for that last chair. On the show Oh Sit!, contestants have to run around in a circle going through, over and under a variety of obstacles. When the music stops contestants make their way across bridges over a moat to claim a chair. There is a point system that encourages players to actually run the obstacle as well.

If I were to run a game of ¬†Extreme Musical Chairs at camp, this is how I would do it…


  1. I would only run the game with a group of no more than 15 players.
  2. The music would come from a DJ system.
  3. It would be a spectator activity. The whole camp would be in attendance. It seems tailor made for Color War.
  4. I would hold the game in a grassy or sandy area, or I would have lots of gym mats laid out to help avoid injury.
  5. Everyone would wear helmets and pads. This alone gives the impression that it’s not your mother’s musical chairs we’re about to play.
  6. No shoving, pushing, tripping or any other intentional contact would be allowed. Failure to comply means disqualification.
  7. Chairs would be placed in the center of the playing area just like in classic musical chairs.
  8. Under each chair would be an envelope containing a card with a point value of 100 – 1000 points.
  9. Depending on the number of contestants, there would an equal number of staff and CITs that form a circle surrounding the circle of chairs ready to play Rock-Paper-Scissors once the music stops.
  10. A variety of obstacles create a third circle around everything else (see diagram below). Here are some obstacle course ideas.
  • walking across a balance beam
  • crawling under a table
  • throwing a bean bag through a hole
  • weaving through cones
  • running through a ladder laying flat on the ground
  • toss a ring onto a stick
  • shimmy under balloon table



  1. When the music begins all the players (each starting in a different location) race around the obstacle course. For each obstacle they get through a player earns 100 points. (So I would have a way of scoring this, either by having an older camper assigned to a player and counting the obstacles completed or by having players collect cards at the end of each obstacle.)
  2. When the music stops players find a staff member or CIT that is standing in the circle between the obstacle course and the chairs. They must beat the staff member or CIT in Rock-Paper-Scissors three times.
  3. Once the player has beaten the staff member or CIT they must sit down in any available chair.
  4. The last player is eliminated, as there should be one less chair than there are players.
  5. However, there are 2 eliminations each round. Once the players are all seated they open up the envelope under their chair revealing their bonus points. The bonus points are added to their obstacle course points, and the player with the least amount of points is also eliminated.
  6. The remaining players get ready to run the course again and the envelopes are redistributed under different chairs so nobody knows which chair has the most bonus points.
  7. The game continues until 3 players are left. The players race through the obstacle course until the music stops.
  8. When the music stops, each player races to one of three tables. On that table is a 9 piece puzzle.
  9. Once the player has successfully completed the puzzle (check by a referee), the player runs to claim the only chair left.

Award presentation with fireworks and a BBQ are in order. Okay, maybe just a medal for the winner and ice cream sandwiches for the winning cabin/group.


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