Deep Woods Marco Polo

by | All Youth, Outdoor Youth Group Games

This is a combination of hide-and-seek, flashlight tag, and Marco Polo. It’s best when played on a moonless night in the woods. Everyone needs a flashlight. My youth love dressing in camouflage, painting their faces black, etc, but any dark clothes will do.

Divide your group into Marcos and Polos. It doesn’t really matter how many of each you start with, so I just let them choose. Most of the group will probably want to be Polos, and it works best to start off with mostly Polos.

Send the Polos out in the woods to hide. They can hide individually (best for not getting caught) or in groups of 2 or 3, but to keep things pure we don’t allow guys and girls to hide together. While hiding, they can use their flashlights if they want, but of course the Marcos can watch where they’re going, so it’s best to stumble through the woods with your light off. Once hidden, the Polos will definitely want to keep their lights off (until they get caught).

After a count of 30 (which keeps the Polos from getting too far away), the Marcos set off in pursuit with their flashlights on. But it would be too easy if they could keep their lights on all the time, so before they can yell out “Marco”, they have to turn off their lights. When someone yells “Marco” all the Marcos have to switch off their lights and keep them off until they do a slow count to 10.
Any Polo within earshot of a Marco’s call has to respond by saying “Polo” (using at least normal speaking volume) within 3 seconds of hearing “Marco.” But if a Polo sees any flashlights on, then he can just stay quiet.

A Polo is found when a Marco shines a flashlight on him at close range and says his name. (If a Polo isn’t sure the Marco really sees him, he can sit still wait for the Marco to come up and tag him.) Once found, the Polo becomes a Marco and joins in the hunt.
As the game wears on there will be more and more Marcos searching for the best-hidden Polos, who will probably become bolder yelling out “Polo” louder and louder each time they hear “Marco.”

My youth loved it and managed to find all the Polos except me. I was hiding only 50 about feet from the campsite, but I hid by myself and stayed very still. The other leaders who stayed by the fire said they heard me, but the youth finally gave up, and I eventually came out of hiding when I no longer heard anyone yelling “Marco.” (It’s a good idea to have an air horn to signal the end of the game so you don’t accidentally leave a kid hiding out in the woods all night.)

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