Time for another prop, after a morning of no props. So you recognise it as a boffer. Now I also need to say. I’m just going to stand here so everyone can… who can’t see me… This used to be quite long.
It’s just made of ethafoam but after a while the handle gets a little bit weak, and eventually you have to cut it off and start another handle. It’s probably got one more handle left in it after which it’s no longer useful as an exercise.
But having to introduce the polyethafoam, comes in two fashion colours, the murky grey and the grubby white which is over there. What’s so wonderful about this is it’s nice and light, and that often used in the tagging sort of exercise and when applied swiftly against the body (whack) it makes a fantastic sound and doesn’t hurt much. It doesn’t actually hurt at all, but here’s the exercise.
Starting with one person in the centre with the boffer, is that your object is by keeping your feet out in front, and by the way, this is the worm’s eye view of the world, check out the base of people’s shoes. Have a look at all the different varieties of soles or otherwise that you’ve got.
So as best as you can, imagining that I’ve created a circle on the ground. I’d like your heel to be directly on that line. So let’s create… so you either go back a little bit or these guys come in, so we have an exact circle in which people have put their heels. Fantastic.
Right. And just take half a bum space into the circle, half a bum space into the circle. That of course will vary. Okay, great. Fantastic. Good job.
So, one person starts with the boffer in the centre, one person from the circle calls out a name of someone else sitting in the circle. So this is reinforcing names. So for example, Scott, if you could just call out anyone else, other than me, their name in the circle, nice and loudly.
Timbo, okay. So I go look for Timbo. I see him over here, and my object is to try and boff him on his feet before he has a chance to call out someone else’s name. Let’s say he manages to do that before I get to him.
I now look for Kate. I see Kate, she’s half asleep. So I come over here and I manage to boff her before she manages to get a name out. In this case, it’s her turn to have some fun in the circle. You’ll get to sit down again, Kate, but for now would you mind just going through this process?
You now take the boffer, and I resume in your position. However, this is the critical piece, is that as I come back down, my posterior must not have touched the ground before I call out the next name. If I happen to not do that, the person with the boffer that as my butt makes the ground first and I’ve not called a name, is welcome to boff me back before I realise I haven’t said the name, at which point I have to swap spots and I’m back into the centre.
So say the name… Thank you, Kate. Say the name before your butt hits the ground. If you don’t and you still haven’t said a name, that person is welcome to boff you again.
Now we have two Scotts in the room, so is there a nickname by which either one of the two Scotts would like to be known as? This is Scotty and you’re Scott. Scotty. Scott. Alright. There’s no other doubles, is there? Great. Okay.
(There’s an invisible.)
Who’s the invisible?
Adam, oh, that’s right. Adam could not stay for this afternoon, but thank you for picking that up.
Well done. Excellent. Bonus points for you. Okay, so fast game’s a good game. You want to say the name really loudly, because in a moment there’s going to be a bit of noise. You want to be able to say that name rather loudly.
So Kate, could you start us off with a name? Any name.
So I managed to get Jillian so she takes the boffer, you stand in the centre, and I have to say a name before my butt hits the ground. Alright. She is ready. Steve!
Nice and loud, folks. Really at the top of your voice. That’s it.
Well done. Excellent. Alright, take the boffer. You get to sit down, Jillian.
How To Play Narrative
Ask your group to form a circle, preferably sitting on the floor with their legs extended in front of them, or in seats with both feet situated on the ground.
Place yourself (or a volunteer) in the centre of the circle holding a boffer (or other long, soft tagging instrument.) Explain that one person sitting in the circle will start by calling out the name of another person in the circle. Let’s say the name “HARRY” is called out.
Immediately upon hearing the name, you attempt to tag (touch) any one of Harry’s feet before he has a chance to call out a new name. Let’s say he quickly calls out “SUZIE” which means you now turn your attention to her place in the circle.
On this occasion, you managed to tag Suzie’s feet before she uttered another person’s name. This event will invite Suzie to swap roles with you (the person in the middle,) whereby Suzie takes the boffer and you assume Suzie’s spot in the circle.
To resume play, the person returning to the circle (you, in this example) must say the name of another person in the circle before their bottom touches the floor or seat. Note, I said before>
If a new name is called before their posterior hits the floor, the game continues as above.
However, if the person sitting back into the circle does not utter a new name before their butt hits the floor/seat, the new person holding the boffer is entitled to tag the former on their feet which will bring them back into the centre of the circle. Always hilarious.
The game continues with many people moving in and out of the centre of the circle.
Call it quits when the energy starts to wane or try something new (see Variations tab.)
Practical Leadership Tips
The rule of saying a name before your butt hits the ground is an absolute classic. In the beginning, it is often overlooked, and always appreciated by the rest of the group who will instantly burst into raucous laughter when some hapless person is quickly re-tagged.
Suggest to your group that legs and feet should remain fixed in position, and baulking is not permitted. Pulling one’s legs into their body to avoid a tag from the boffer may cause the person in the middle to chase after one’s feet, thus offering a greater possibility of someone’s face copping a whack. Ouch!
Do not under any circumstances use rolled-up newspaper as a tagging implement of choice. Only soft, flexible options should be pursued. Pool noodles are perfect.
Notice the approach taken to ‘eliminating’ people, ie people are invited to swap roles. In most cases, those who get tagged are only too willing to swap roles and become the tagger.
But, given that people always have a choice, if they do not want to swap roles, honour this choice and ask for a new volunteer – there is always, always, always someone who is willing to assume that person’s role in the centre.
If your group has two or more people with the same name, identify some unique variations for each of these folk before you start.
Hopefully, you can see why this game is called Wampum, it’s the sound a boffer makes when it makes contact with a person’s foot at velocity.
You could integrate Wampum as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse people.
Specifically, this activity offers ample opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
Anticipating & Evaluating the Consequences of One’s Actions
Promoting Personal & Collective Well-Being
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s wellbeing of enjoying a good laugh while (possibly) learning a bunch of new names.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to accurately call out the names of people sitting in the circle (and not be distracted) may speak to the benefits of being mindful, but this would not be considered the primary purpose of this game.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Wampum could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Multiple Boffers: Depending on the size of your group, introduce two or three people in the centre holding a boffer, to increase the speed at which the people in the circle can be tagged.
Hands Up: Stand in a circle, and ask each person to hold out one hand, palm-facing up into the centre of the circle. This time, the person in the centre aims to tap the palm of the person (with their open hand) who has just been named, before they name a new person.
Hilarious, interactive name-game for small groups.
Useful Framing Ideas
How quickly can you think on your feet? Can you react quickly when you hear your name called? In this exercise, you will be challenged to not only focus on the calling of your name, but to react quickly, often under pressure, when this occurs…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this energetic and fun name-game:
What did you observe during this game?
Did anything surprise you? What exactly?
What is the source of the laughter and fun in this game?
What were the most memorable moments in the game?
The inspiration for Wampum was sourced from The Bottomless Bag Again book, by Karl Rohnke.