Raise the jolly roger

Arrrr ye YMCA matey! Come walk the plank on to me pirate ship! Have some swashbuckling pirate fun with a cannon ball toss, stranded island obstacle course, crocodile hunt, and more. Send a message in a bottle, create your own Jolly Roger, try your hand (or hook) at sand art, or be a pirate look alike as we make pirate hats and eye patches to cheer on the Pittsburgh Pirates!

Opening Ceremonies:

  1. Wear your favorite pirate outfit

Encourage campers to dress up like a pirate. This could include, but not limited to, eye patch, peg leg, hat, hook, bandana, etc.

  1. Show your Pirates Pride

Have campers and staff wear their favorite Pittsburgh Pirates gear. The can bring in the Pirate Parrot, wear their favorite jersey, wear their hats, etc.

  1. Staff can introduce themselves using their “pirate name”

Staff can create their own pirate name that is fun for the campers to remember. The campers can also help come up with pirate names for the staff to get them more involved.

  1. Learn how to speak pirate.

Staff teach the campers new pirate vocab words each day.

  • Ahoy: Hey!
  • Avast: Stop!
  • Aye: Yes
  • Black spot: to be ‘placin’ the black spot’ be markin’ someone for death.
  • Booty: treasure
  • Buccaneer: a pirate who be answerin’ to no man or blasted government.
  • By the Powers!: an exclamation, uttered by Long John Silver in Treasure Island!
  • Cat o’ nine tails: whip for floggin’ mutineers
  • Corsair: a pirate who be makin’ his berth in the Med-…Medi-…that sea ‘tween Spain and Africa, aye!
  • Davy Jones’ Locker: the bottom o’ the sea, where the souls of dead men lie
  • Doubloons: pieces of gold…
  • Fiddlers Green: the private heaven where pirates be goin’ when they die.
  • Furner: a ship which be yer own, not one ye steal an’ plunder.
  • Gentlemen o’ fortune: a slightly more positive term fer pirates!
  • Go on the account: to embark on a piratical cruise
  • Grog: A pirate’s favorite drink.
  • Jack: a flag or a sailor
  • Jolly Roger: the skull and crossbones, the pirate flag!
  • Keelhaul: a truly vicious punishment where a scurvy dog be tied to a rope and dragged along the barnacle-encrusted bottom of a ship. They not be survivin’ this.
  • Landlubber: “Land-lover,” someone not used to life onboard a ship.
  • Lass: A woman.
  • Lily-livered: faint o’ heart
  • Loaded to the Gunwales (pron. gunnels): drunk
  • Matey: A shipmate or a friend.
  • Me hearty: a friend or shipmate.
  • Me: My.
  • Pieces o’ eight: pieces o’ silver which can be cut into eights to be givin’ small change.
  • Privateer: a pirate officially sanctioned by a national power
  • Scallywag: A bad person. A scoundrel.
  • Scurvy dog!: a fine insult!
  • Shiver me timbers!: an exclamation of surprise, to be shouted most loud.
  • Son of a Biscuit Eater: a derogatory term indicating a bastard son of a sailor
  • Sprogs: raw, untrained recruits
  • Squadron: a group of ten or less warships
  • Squiffy: a buffoon
  • Swaggy: a scurvy cur’s ship what ye be intendin’ to loot!
  • Swashbucklin’: fightin’ and carousin’ on the high seas!
  • Sweet trade: the career of piracy
  • Thar: The opposite of “here.”
  • Walk the plank: this one be bloody obvious.
  • Wench: a lady, although ye gents not be wantin’ to use this around a lady who be stronger than ye.
  • Wi’ a wannion: wi’ a curse, or wi’ a vengeance. Boldly, loudly!
  • Yo-ho-ho: Pirate laughter


  1. Teach and talk like a pirate with all announcements.

Double up on all your adjectives and you’ll be bountifully bombastic with your phrasing. Pirates never speak of “a big ship”, they call it a “great, grand ship!” They never say never, they say “No nay ne’er!”

Drop all your “g”‘s when you speak and you’ll get words like “rowin'”, “sailin'” and “fightin'”. Dropping all of your “v”‘s will get you words like “ne’er”, “e’er” and “o’er”.

Instead of saying “I am”, sailors say, “I be”. Instead of saying “You are”, sailors say, “You be”. Instead of saying, “They are”, sailors say, “They be”. Ne’er speak in anythin’ but the present tense!

**If it is helpin’, start yer sentence wi’ a “Arr, me hearty,” in a deep, throaty voice — ye’ll find that the rest be comin’ much easier.

Huddle Group Questions and Activities

  1. Forbidden Pirate Word

At the start of the party, give each guest 10 gold coins. Choose a pirate word to be the forbidden word of the day. Since kids will be talking like pirates, some ideas for forbidden words include pirate, ship, matey and arrrrrrrr. For the first 30 minutes, kids simply continue with the party activities as planned, but when one kid catches another saying the forbidden word, the offending player must surrender one of his coins to his captor. When time us up, the pirate with the most coins wins.

  1. Pin the Parrot on the Pirate

This is just a variation of the classic “pin the tail on the donkey” and is as fun as ever.  Plus, not only is it a game it is also a craft activity.  You print out a color page picture of a parrot for each child and then have them color them.   You will need to enlist someone to draw out the picture of a pirate or enlarge a drawing with an obvious area on the pirate’s shoulder where the parrot will sit.  Then, you put a circle of tape on the back of each parrot, have the kids take turns being blindfolded (we used a skull and cross bones print pirate bandana) and trying to pin the parrot on the pirate.  Whoever gets the parrot closest to the pirate’s shoulder wins.

Before you can have your turn to pin the parrot, campers must answer a question. Questions could include:

  • Who would be part of your pirate crew?
  • What would your job be on the pirate ship?
  • What would your flag look like?
  • Where would you want to sail to?
  • How big of a crew would you have?
  • What would you want to wear?
  • What would be your catch phrase?
  • What would you name your ship?
  1. Hardy Har Har and Yo Ho Ho

Arrange all players in a circle. Give them time to ask the names of the players on either side of


Once the names are known, the person in the middle goes up to a player and says “(name)___,

hardy har har and yo ho ho.” That person then has to say the names of the people sitting/standing

beside him/her before the middle person finishes saying “hardy har har and yo ho ho.”


The person in the middle can randomly yell out hardy har har and yo ho ho and everyone has to find a new spot on the edge of the circle. Then repeat


4. The Toilet Paper Game

  • Take a roll of toilet paper and ask a person how many squares they want, but don’t tell them
  • Set a Limit From 5 to 50.
  • Count out the squares, Rip after the last square and give all of the squares to the camper.
  • Repeat until all the campers have desired amount.
  • Then go around and have each person say stuff about themselves for each square until they are finished. The first square has to be their name.


  1. My Name Is and I Like To…

Everyone in the group stands in a circle.
The first person says, “My name is and I like to ______ (insert hobby and act out a motion from that hobby.)
The rest of group then says, “(Person’s Name) likes to (hobby) and acts out motion. Example, “My name is Dave and I like Fish (action out casting a reel).
The next person repeats the process.
The rest of group then says that person’s name, hobby, and motion and the moves onto the first person’s info.
This continues until the last person goes, at which the entire group calls out the last person’s info and moves along through the whole group and repeats everyone’s info.


  1. Handprint Pirates

  2. First, get black red, and peach(any skin color) paint ready along with 3 different brushes.
  3. Paint thumb and bottom of the palm red- this will be the bandanna.
  4. Paint the middle of the palm with the paint you chose for the skin color.
  5. Paint all 4 fingers black and dab some black paint on the top of the palm just above the fingers.
  6. At this point, I usually look and quickly repaint the areas again if they look like they are drying already.
  7. Firmly press down on to the middle of a piece of paper. I usually have my son count to 5 or 10 and then have him lift his hand up.
  8. Paint thumb white and press down to make an eye.
  9. Paint pinkie finger black and press down on top of the white thumbprint.
  10. Paint on white mouth.
  11. When it has finished drying, draw or paint on black stripes, an eye patch, and the details for the mouth.

I did a search for pirate skull clip art and printed it, as well as a couple more for the pirate ship snack you see below. I used the option to print as contact paper. Glue the skull on the bandanna.

  1. Treasure Chest

-empty plastic strawberry containers

-mod podge

-foam brush

-ripped up newsprint or junk mail

-gold acrylic paint

-thick sharpie marker in black

treasure chest printables (skull, lock, and straps)

  1. Apply about two layers of newspapers and mod podge over the plastic container.  Allow drying completely to between  Be sure not to cover the interior snaps of the lid.  You will need about two layers.
  2. Paint gold.
  3. After the paint dries, apply our printables and mod podge.
  4. After that dries, sketch in lines to fake the wooden planks on the treasure chest.
  5. Fill with trinkets and treasures! Ahoy!

3. Pirate Eye Patch

Materials Needed:

  • Printer Paper
  • Pen
  • Craft Foam or Felt
  • Yarn
  • Scissors

Print out the eye patch pattern I provide (below). Trace it onto craft foam or felt and cut it out. Take note of where the two black lines are on the eye patch pattern. On your craft foam or felt eye patch, cut four small slits where those black lines are.

Cut a piece of yarn or elastic long enough to fit around the head of the person who will be wearing the patch. Push one end of the yarn or elastic up through one slit and then push it back down through the slit right next to the first. Tie the end to the yarn or elastic to secure it in place. Repeat this step for the other side. Before you tie the second side, make sure it fits. If you like, you can personalize it with dimensional paint or markers.

That’s all… Your pirate eye patch is now ready to wear. Find a stuffed parrot to perch on your shoulder, wrap a bandanna around your head, and you can even draw on a fake mustache using some black make-up!

Have fun being a pirate.

  1. Craft Stick Box

Materials Needed:

  • Craft Sticks
  • Wooden Craft Knobs
  • Craft Glue
  • Paint and Paint Brush –(optional)


If you want your box painted, it is easiest to paint each craft stick before you glue them together, especially if you want the sticks different colors. Let them dry completely.

Start out by making the bottom of the box. Lay 12 craft sticks evenly, side-by-side, on your work surface. Spread glue on one side of another craft stick and lay it perpendicular on top of your row of 12 sticks, along one of the edges where it will lay across all 12 sticks. Glue another craft stick similar to the first on the other edge of the row or sticks. Repeat these steps to make a lid for your box.

Now you can start building up the sides of your box. Put a dab of glue on both ends of two different craft sticks. Set each of these, glue sides down, so the ends rest on the ends of the two craft sticks you glued on to the bottom of the box.

Now, dab glue on the ends of two more craft sticks and lay them so the glued ends rest on top of the two you just glued on. Continue alternating craft sticks until your box grows to the height you want it.

For a nice finishing touch, glue a wooden craft knob on the top center of your lid. You can also glue 4 beads to the bottom corners of the box to give it legs.

  1. Catapult

  • 12 craft sticks
    • 2 clothes pins
    • Plastic spoon
    • Glue
    • Rubber band
    • Cotton balls or marshmallows
  1. Line up 2 craft sticks horizontally. Glue 10 craft sticks along vertically, so it looks like a raft or fence. This will be the platform for your catapult.
    2. Glue 2 clothespins together on top of each other (as shown in the picture).
  2. Glue your clothespins onto your craft stick “raft”. Let the glue completely dry (if you try and use it too soon it will just snap apart).
  3. Wrap a rubber band around the top prong of the clothespin. Wrap it so it’s fairly tight.
    5. Slide the plastic spoon into the rubber band. Make sure the rubber band is tight enough to hold the spoon in place. And you’re ready to use your Easy Catapult to start your target practice!

You can glue the spoon on the clothespin instead of using the rubber band. We prefer the rubber band because it makes it less likely for the spoon to break, and gives it a little more leverage.

  1. Black Sparkly Playdough

Here’s the recipe (which takes all of 4 minutes!):

* 2 cups of flour
* 1/2 cup of salt
* 1.5 cups of boiling water (important that it is straight from kettle)
* 2 tbsp oil
* 2 tbsp cream of tartar (or a squeeze of lemon juice)
* a few drops of glycerine to add extra shine and stretch (this is my own special ingredient!)
* black food coloring or 1 tbsp of black powder paint
* silver glitter

Method: Mix it all together in a bowl until it starts to come together. Then knead it for a few minutes and add the coloring and glitter. It will be very hot at first! It comes together beautifully and will last for months in a zip-loc bag in the cupboard. It will last a good few months before drying out.

7. Create your jolly roger

Your Mission: Imagine you are a pirate living hundreds of years ago. What would your Jolly Roger look like? What would the images tell others about you? 8.   Create your Own Jolly Roger


  • Create your jolly roger using whatever media you choose: painting, collage, computer-generated, etc.
  • It must be at least 8 ½ x 11 inches.
  • You must have at least 3 different images on your flag.
  • You should include a written explanation of each image and why it was chosen. You are trying to answer the question: What does this image say about me as a pirate?
  • After completing your Jolly Roger, go online to http://www.cosmosmith.com/jolly_roger.html and check out one other pirate’s jolly roger. Be prepared to share a little about that pirate in class.

Name of Pirate: _________________

Description of Flag: __________________________________________________________________

One interesting fact: __________________________________________________________________

  1. Message in a Bottle

What you need

Clean plastic bottle with lid, label removed


  • Help your child to write a secret message on the paper.
  • Tear the edges of the paper to create a ‘vintage’ effect.
  • Roll the paper up and tie with string to secure.
  • Slip message into the bottle.
  • Bust the  bottle out at bath time for extra adventurous fun!
  1. Wrist Parakeets

You’ll need:

If you want to get a little fancier, you’ll need:

We’ll make the parakeet’s body first, and then proceed to perching it on your wrist.

Wrap construction paper around the entire toilet paper tube. Then wrap a smaller strip of construction paper around the top – this will become your bird’s head. Yet another piece of construction paper becomes your bird’s colorful chest (it looks best if you round the top of the chest).

Draw eyes and eyebrows on the dot stickers, then stick them on the bird’s head. Tape (or glue) a small triangle of construction paper to the head for a beak. You can also use a triangle of self-adhesive foam for the beak (it gives the beak some really nice texture). Tape (or hot glue) 2 small feathers on the side for the wing, and 1 small feather on top for the crest. The body is done!

To make the tail, gather 3 duck quills together, fan them out slightly, and wrap scotch tape around the points of the quills (if you don’t want to purchase duck quills for the tail, just use more small feathers). Tape the tail to the back of the bird.

If you want to get a little fancier, you can wrap scotch tape around the points of the quills, then cover the scotch tape with color masking tape and hot glue it to the bird’s body.

The final step is to tether the bird to your wrist! Punch holes in both sides of the toilet paper tube. Don’t punch the holes in the center of the tube. Punch them slightly more toward the front of the bird. The reason is this – with the tail in place, the bird actually sits slightly askew on your wrist. It needs to be tethered slightly towards the front in order to sit correctly on your wrist. When in doubt, just plunk the tube on your wrist and you’ll see where the holes need to go.

Thread a pipe cleaner through the holes, sit the bird on your wrist, and twist the pipe cleaner under your wrist to secure the bird in place! Finito!


11. Make Your Own Pirate Hat!

Follow the directions on this page to make your own pirate hat, just like Captain Schnook and Captain Jerrrrrrr wear!
You can print these directions by clicking here. Don’t forget to close this window after you’ve printed it.
For more fun Arts & Crafts projects, click here.

 pirate hat 1  pirate hat 2  pirate hat 3
Start with a piece of paper.
(A sheet of newspaper makes a nice, big hat!)
Fold the sheet of paper in half. Fold the top corners down towards
the center of the page.


 pirate hat 4 pirate hat 5 pirate hat 6
Your paper should look like this. Lift the front bottom flap and fold
it up.
Flip the paper over, then lift the
bottom flap and fold it up.


 pirate hat 7
Your pirate hat is complete!


  1. Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Take me out to the ballgame

Take me out to the crowd

Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks

I don’t care if I never get back

So let’s root root root for the Pirates

If they don’t win it’s a shame

So it’s 1, 2, 3 strikes your out at the OLD BALL GAME!



  1. This Old Pirate

    This old pirate, has a hat
    Where a skull and crossbones sat.
    With an Ar, Ar, Ar, and an Ay Matey!
    This old pirate sailed the sea.

Additional Verses:
This old pirate has a hook, uses it to hold a book.
This old pirate has a map, keeps it handy in his lap
This old pirate has a bird, barely knows a single word.
This old pirate has a ship, travels the world in a single trip.
This old pirate looking for treasure, more than anyone could measure!

Sturdy for Common Things

  1. The Pirate Song

When I was one, I sucked my thumb, the day I went to sea
I climbed aboard a pirate ship and the captain said to me
I’m going this way that way, forwards and backward, over the Irish Sea To keep on track I follow my map, now that’s the life for me.

When I was two I buckled my shoe and then I went to sea
I climbed aboard a pirate ship and the captain said to me
I’m going this way, that way, forwards and backwards, over the Irish Sea
To keep on track I follow my map, now that’s the life for me.

v3: When I was three I bashed my knee

v4: When I was four I scrubbed the floor

v5: When I was five I went for a drive


  1. A Sailor (pirate) Went to Sea Sea Sea

A pirate went to sea sea sea

To sea what he could see see see

But all that he could see see see

Was the bottom of the deep blue sea sea sea

(Campers clap along with the song)


  1. The Big Ship Sails

The big ship sails on the alley-alley-o

The alley-alley-o, the alley-alley-o,

The big ship sails on the alley-alley-o

On the last day of September.

The captain says that’ll never never do,

Never never do, never never do.

The captain says that’ll never never do,

On the last day of September.

The big ship sank to the bottom of the sea

The bottom of the sea, the bottom of the sea,

The big ship sank to the bottom of the sea

On the last day of September.

We all dip our heads in the deep blue sea,

The deep, blue sea, the deep, blue sea,

We all dip our heads in the deep, blue sea,

On the last day of September.

  1. What Shall We do with a Lazy Pirate

What shall we do with the lazy pirate?

What shall we do with the lazy pirate?

What shall we do with the lazy pirate?

So early in the morning!

Walk the plank and splash in the water

Walk the plank and splash in the water

Walk the plank and splash in the water

Early in the morning!



  1. The Wheel of the Ship

The wheel on the ship goes round and round

Round and round, round and round

The wheel on the ship goes round and round

All day long

The flag on the ship goes flap flap flap

Flap flap flap, flap flap flap

The flag on the ship goes flap flap flap

All day long

The parrots on the ship go pretty pretty polly

Pretty pretty polly, pretty pretty polly

The parrots on the ship go pretty pretty polly

All day long

The treasure on the ship goes sparkle sparkle sparkle

Sparkle sparkle sparkle, sparkle sparkle sparkle

The treasure on the ship goes sparkle sparkle sparkle

All day long

The pirates on the ship go Arr Arr Arr

Arr Arr Arr, Arr Arr Arr

The pirates on the ship go

Arr, Arr Arr All day long


  1. Five Cheeky Pirates

(to tune of 5 currant buns)

Five cheeky pirates sailing on the sea

Up and down on the waves, spilling all their tea

Along came the captain with his parrot one day
Made a pirate walk the plank, and then he swam away

Four cheeky pirates sailing on the sea

Up and down on the waves, spilling all their tea

Along came the captain…..




  1. Pirate Captain Jack

(to the tune of Oh the Grand old Duke of York)

Oh! Pirate Captain Jack he had ten thousand ships

He sailed them round and round the world

Then he sailed them round again

And some of the waves were high

And some of the waves were small

And sometimes when the wind was calm, there were just no waves at all


  1. A Pirate had a Parrot Who was Sick Sick Sick

(To the tune of – Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick sick sick)

A pirate had a parrot who was sick sick sick

So he called for the captain to come quick quick quick

The captain came with his hat and his patch

And his wooden leg that made a kind of scratch scratch scratch

He looked at the parrot and he rubbed his beard

And he said to the pirate ‘you should not be feared’

He looked in his pocket for some nuts and seeds

Your parrot will get better if you increase her feeds


  1. Twinkle Twinkle Treasure Chest

Twinkle Twinkle treasure chest

Gold or silver, which is best

Pirate treasure shining bright

Rings and diamonds catch the light

Twinkle Twinkle treasure chest

Gold or silver which is best


  Crew Service Project

  1. Have campers “swab the poop deck” each day

To carry on the theme of the week, refer to things in a “pirate” way. Have the campers clean up the floors before they leave an area. This will help keep them accountable for their areas.

  1. Have campers plant and care for seeds

Understanding that nature is precious and we need to take care of it will help campers treat it with care.

 Camper Choice and Free Play

Camper Choice

          Campers can choose to participate in a different kind of treasure hunt each day. They can use the instructions provided to create the treasure hunt themselves or they can create their own.

  1. Create a Puzzle Treasure Hunt

You Will Need

  • Photos of the locations where you plan to hide clues
  • Prize(s)—We used candy, but you can use any number of things
  • Cardboard
  • Glue
  • Scissors or X-acto knife
  • Plastic ziplock bags or equivalent
  • Containers to hide the treasure in at each location

Preparation Time

30 minutes

Activity Time

30 minutes


Your home, neighborhood or park

#1: Plot Your Path With Pictures

First, decide on the locations for the clues and take photos of them. They can be indoors or outdoors, wide-angle shots or close-ups. These photos will become the puzzle clues for your treasure hunt.

Think about the players’ ages and abilities when you plot the path of your clues. Older kids may have fun chasing locations all around the neighborhood, while little ones may have more fun if their search is limited to your house or backyard.

I took photos of five locations where I was going to hide the clues.

#2: Create the Puzzle Clues

The fastest, easiest way to create puzzle clues for your treasure hunt is to buy precut, blank puzzle sheets designed to go through a computer printer or upload your photos to a puzzle-making site.

To save some money, you can make your own puzzles. It’s easier than you might think!

Upload your photo clues into a Word document and size them to take up one sheet of paper per image. If you want to include a riddle or hint along with the picture, add a text box to the image.

How many teams will be following your clues? Print out a copy of each image for each team. (We had two teams playing, so I printed out two sets of clues.) A color printer produces the clearest clues, but if you don’t have one you could print in black and white or print them at a copy shop.

Glue the photos to cardboard. Be sure to distribute the glue evenly because once the glue sets, you’ll need to cut the cardboard into small pieces. You don’t want to have spots that aren’t glued down.

If you’re using thin cardboard, place photos between some heavy books to dry, to prevent curling. This is just like pressing leaves or flowers.

Be sure to keep track of where each photo will be placed along your treasure hunt route. It will be harder to identify the photos once they’re cut up.

Next, cut into puzzle pieces. It’s a little time-consuming but it’s fun to see what shapes you can come up with. You can cut simple shapes with scissors. For more intricate pieces, use an X-acto knife.

If you have older children or large teams participating, you can cut the pieces smaller and make the shapes more complex.

I recommend shapes no smaller than 1 inch (2.5 cm) for older players and no smaller than 2 inches (5 cm) for younger players.

Remember, you don’t want them to get frustrated and give up on your treasure hunt.

Put each puzzle into ziplock bags and place them in the clue locations. The first puzzles are given out at the start of the treasure hunt—one to each team. Subsequent puzzles lead the players to the next location.

You can place a prize at the end, or have each team race against each other for bragging rights—your choice.

Optional: To add an extra incentive, place a treat or small prize at each location so there’s an immediate reward for completing a puzzle. If you’re going to leave treats outdoors, put them in a container to keep the critters out!

#3: Play the Game

Divide your players into teams, give each a bag containing the first puzzle, explain the rules and set them loose.

For our treasure hunt, we kept with the Big Bang Theory theme and split into two teams: Team Sheldon and Team Will Wheaton (two characters from the show). I thought about having the kids dress up as their favorite characters, but it was a hot day and they just wanted to get on with the game. If you were doing a Big Bang Theory–inspired birthday party, that could be a fun option to include.

Some Final Thoughts

However, I made a rule that they had to complete the puzzle before moving on to the next location, even if they guessed what it was before the puzzle was done. That way, both teams had a fighting chance and the game lasted longer than 5 minutes.


  1. Alphabet Treasure Hunt

Treasure Hunt #1: The Alphabet Treasure Hunt

Looking for the alphabet is a fun treasure hunt because you aren’t just looking for letters, you’re looking for gold coins with the letters written on them.

Buy a few packages of plastic “gold” coins at your local dollar store and use a permanent marker to make two sets of coins. On one, write the alphabet in uppercase letters, and on the second write the alphabet in lowercase letters.

There are a few ways to go about this treasure hunt.

  1. Give your child a “treasure map” with the alphabet written on it (a piece of paper on which you print the alphabet) and hide either all the coins with uppercase letters or all the coins with lowercase letters around the house. As he finds them, he should cross off the letters on his map.


  1. Give your child all the uppercase (or lowercase) coins and hide the corresponding ones. Have him find the matches.
  2. Say a word. If your child can identify the letter it begins with, he earns the correct coin.
  3. Give your child an uppercase coin. If he can name a word that starts with that letter, he earns the lowercase coin.


  1. Read the Clues, Matey (Sight Words and Rhymes) Treasure Hunt

Treasure Hunt #2: Read the Clues, Matey (Sight Words and Rhymes)

Once your child is a little bit older and can read basic sight words, you can set up a more involved treasure hunt with clues. Again, this can be done a couple of ways.

  1. Give your new reader a slip of paper with an age-appropriate sight word on it, such as “chair.” She will go to where the word directs her, find the next word and so forth, until she finds the treasure.
  2. Provide your child with a slip of paper with a simple word on it, telling him that the next clue can be found in a place that rhymes with the first word. (For example, your clue might say “chairs” and the next clue is on the)
  3. Give your more advanced reader written sentences or riddles describing where to go next. Only provide help if she’s really stuck.
  1. Arggh, Follow the Sound of My Voice (Directional Words) Treasure Hunt

Some children aren’t ready to read yet or don’t have the attention span to find all of the coins. That’s okay. For those children, it’s a good opportunity to practice directional words (also known as positional words).

Set up a verbal treasure hunt, placing the coins in places that require you to give directional clues. Some words to consider include: above; below; on top of; behind, under; next to; between; to the left and to the right.

 3. Follow Yer Map Treasure Hunt

This type of pirate treasure hunt is more complicated than the others. You and your child first need to decide where you will be hunting for treasure. If you will be staying in your house, the first move is to sit down and make a map of your home together. If you will be going outdoors, you’ll need to make a map of the neighborhood.

Once you have your map made, it’s a good idea to laminate it or make extra copies. That way you can draw the intended route to treasure directly on the map and let your child find his way to where “X” marks the spot!

Free Play Ideas

  1.  Pirate Obstacle Course

An obstacle course can be a great way to run off some energy!  There are tons of great ideas for a pirate themed obstacles course. Here are just a few ideas:  your little pirates can walk the plank (balance on a board), weave around sharks or crocodiles, jump across quicksand (brown paper or towels), pop a cannon ball (black balloon), swim across the sea (a blue blanket or tarp).

  1. Rock Hop

You lay out a number of “rocks” equal to the number of players and large enough for the kids to stand on — cut the “rocks” from paper grocery bags or brown wrap and write a number on each one. Appoint a counselor to control the music.  When the music starts the pirates must hop from rock to rock (you can’t touch the water or the crocs may get ya!)  When the music stops you draw a number and the pirate on that number gets a prize.  The kids love this one and it’s nice because there is no pushing trying to get the last rock and no hurt feelings because no one is “out”.

Closing Ceremony

  1. Friendship Bracelets

Pass out the friendship bracelets. Tell everyone they can’t put them on themselves. They need to go find their enemy and make amends because they probably won’t see each other again.


2. Come Up With Emergency Code Words

Tell everyone to think of one word that will be their emergency code word when they miss camp so much they feel like they’re going to die. All people will need to do is write a letter with that word or call each other and say that word and hang up, and we will totally get it. No one can have the same word. Group leader calls “Glisten.”


3.   Observe a Moment of Silence

Everyone should be completely silent and observe the sanctity of camp. If people can’t stop crying, point out how it sounds exactly like nature’s tears, which is rain. If people aren’t crying, have someone play James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain”, but first explain how the song is about James Taylor’s best friend who died in a plane crash. Hold hands and sway during “Fire and Rain” no matter who you are sitting next to because we are all best friends tonight.


  1. Express What You Love About Another Camper

Have everyone take one tissue paper flower. Tell campers not to select their own name. They should be mature and pick someone else’s name and not look through all of them until they find Craig’s name just because he is a babe. Everyone will then have to stand up and say what they love about that person and what they learned from that person and how nobody back home understands you like the person on this Kleenex flower does.


  1. Silent Writing Time

Every camper will have some silent writing time to write about this sacred experience and how real life will never be the same as camp, but that we must learn to power through. Then we’ll read our thoughts out loud by candlelight. When each person is finished sharing we’ll blow out their candle and say, “ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END MY FRIEND” and then the sharer has to repeat back, “ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END MY FRIEND.” Tell everyone this is serious and that there’s no laughing or it shows how much you don’t really care about your only real friends, who you only have about twelve more hours with until you have to go back home where no one understands you.



  1. Trust Walk with Bandanas

Divide campers into four groups.

  • Group A will have bandanas placed over their eyes. They are the blind people.
  • Group B will wear bandanas over their ears. They are the deaf people.
  • Group C will have bandanas tied around their arms. They are the no arms people.
  • Group D will take off one shoe so they won’t be able to walk right. They are the birth defect people.

Everyone will then have to help each other silently walk from the dining hall to the amphitheater, then down to the lake where each person must put at least one toe in the sacred waters of Lac La Belle. This shows how we cannot live without each other and without the camp. If people talk, tell them this is not funny and ask them how would they feel if they actually had a birth defect and had to walk funny all their life.


Extra Games

  1. Walk the Plank

The first thing you will need to play walk the plank is, of course, a plank.

You can build your own by nailing a long plank of wood to smaller blocks of wood and standing it on the ground like a table (you only want the plank to be a few inches off of the ground, so use sturdy, but short blocks of wood). Once you have a plank, position it over a blue tarp or blanket to represent the ocean. Another fun idea is to place it over a baby pool.

To play the game, line up your party guests and have them walk across the plank. The idea is to make it across without falling into the water. Any player who falls off of the plank is out. Players who cross the plank successfully must do it again – this time backward. Increase the difficulty each time, such as crossing sideways, on one foot and while blindfolded.

  1. Cannon Ball Pop

To play this game you will need several black balloons. Make a slip of paper for each balloon. On half of the papers write something indicating a winner, such as, “Collect Ye Treasure.” On the other half, write something referring to a loser, like, “Walk the Plank!” Fold the papers and insert them into the balloons before inflating.

Scatter all of the balloons around the play area.

Gather the pirates and tell them that they are under attack and must detonate the cannonballs before they reach their ship. Players will then stomp or sit on the balloons to pop them. A player who gets a winning message collects his prize and is out of the game.

Players who get a losing message keep trying. The game continues until every pirate wins a treasure.

  1. Find the Crocodile

This game is especially fun for fans of, or the Disney animated program, who will recall that Tick-Tock the crocodile swallowed Captain’s Hook’s hand, and has been hunting him ever since. Luckily for Hook, the croc also swallowed a ticking clock, so the Captain always hears him coming.

Send one player out of the room. This player is Captain Hook. Set a ticking kitchen timer for two minutes and tie it to a stuffed crocodile. Have the rest of the players hide the ticking crocodile. Bring Captain Hook back into the room. If he can find the crocodile before the timer goes off, he wins a prize.

If the timer goes off first, however, he is “eaten by the croc” and out of the game. Play enough rounds so that everyone has a turn to be Captain Hook.


  1. Cannon Ball Toss

Gather your pirates in the backyard. Pair them up and have them stand face-to-face with their partners. Give a black water balloon to each set of pirates. Players that stand across from each other must toss the balloon back and forth until one of them drops it or breaks it, and is out of the game. The winning players from each pair then challenge each other, until only one player remains.

To increase difficulty as the game progresses, you can have players take a step back after each toss, stand on one foot while playing or try and play while blindfolded.

  1. Destroy the Pirate Ship

For this game, you’ll need two large cardboard boxes. Kids can decorate them to look like pirate ships if they want. Place the ships a couple of feet away from each other. Divide guests into two teams and have each one gather at a pirate ship. When you signal the start of the game, each pirate crew will try to destroy the other ship with cannonballs. You can purchase a large amount of soft play balls, such as the kind used in ball pits or you can make your own cannonballs out of things like crumpled up newspaper or aluminum foil.

When time is up, count how many cannonballs are in each box. The team that landed the most in the opposing ship wins.


  1. Peg Legged Treasure Chest Relay

This race is played like a three-legged race. Add pirate accessories to make it more exciting. Have two members from each team put on a pirate hat, vest, and eye patch and then race, with two of their legs tied together, to a pile of treasure. They must put as much treasure as they can into their hats and race back. When they return, they empty their hats into a large treasure chest and hand off the accessories to next set of players. The first team to fill their treasure chest wins.

  1. Pirate Ship Race

To play this game you will need two small, toy pirate ships and a baby pool. Fill the pool with water and place the ships on one side of the ship. Players must blow their ships across the pool. The first ship to reach the other side wins. If the ships don’t float well, you can place them on small rafts.

Another idea for pirate ship racing is to build two pirate ships out of cardboard boxes.

Divide guests into two teams. Have one player from each team sit inside of the pirate ship. Another player from each team must push their teammate, in the ship, around an obstacle course and back. The players then switch off to the next set of pirates from their team. The race continues in this relay-style until one team has had all of their players complete the course.


  1. Pirate Hook Relay Race

For this game, each team will need a pirate hook. The first player for each team wears the hook and runs to a pile of mesh, chocolate-coin-filled bags. Players must hook the bags and bring them back to their teams. The remaining players in line must also put on the hook and do the same. The first team to retrieve all of their coins wins.

  1. Cannonball Volley

Divide players into two teams and have them stand on either side of a volleyball net (or imaginary line). Give each team a bucket of black water balloons and a large sheet or beach towel (you can even paint pirate flags on them). The serving team places their balloons in their flag and launches them over the net. The opposing team tries to catch them and volley them back. Play continues, switching serving sides until everyone is wet and laughing.

  1. Bail the Boat and Swap the Deck

Bail the Boat – This one is a variation of the relay race where you carry cups of water from the “boat” to a container first team to fill their container wins.  You can “pirate it up” with a story about how both teams ships are sinking and they need to bail quickly to avoid Davy Jones’s Locker.

 Swab the Deck –  In this relay race, you give each team a broom and the kids take turns sweeping a ping pong ball across the room around a cone or a pirate themed object and back, then hand the broom to the next teammate.  First team to finish wins.

 Riddle Me This

  1. Why does it take a pirate so long to learn the alphabet?
    1. Because they get stuck at “c.”
  2. Why do pirates always carry a bar of soap?
    1. So if shipwrecked they can wash themselves ashore.
  3. Why did the pirate buy his earring at the dollar store?
    1. He only wanted to pay a buck an ear.
  4. Why couldn’t the pirate play cards?
    1. Because he was standing on the deck.
  5. Why couldn’t the kids go to the pirate movie?
    1. Because it was rated ARRRRRR.
  6. What do you call a pirate who skips class?
    1. Captain Hooky.
  7. What do you call a pirate with two eyes and two legs?
    1. A rookie.
  8. Why do pirates like Apple?
    1. Because they invented the Aye Pod.
  9. Why don’t pirates get hungry when shipwrecked on an island?
    1. Because of all the sand which is there (sandwiches there)
  10. What does a pirate always look for, although it’s right behind him?
    1. His booty
  11. What do you get when you cross a parrot and a shark?
    1. A bird that will talk your head off
  12. Which side of the boat do pirates avoid?
    1. The outside
  13. What’s the difference between a pirate and a strawberry farmer?
    1. A pirate buries his treasures, and a farmer treasures his berries
  14. Why did the pirate cross the road?
    1. To get to the second-hand shop
  15. How do you make a pirate very angry?
    1. You take away his “p.”
  16. Why do pirates make the best singers?
    1. They love to hit the high Cs
  17. What happened to the pirate whose wooden leg caught fire?
    1. He burned to the ground
  18. What did the ocean say to the pirate?
    1. It just waved
  19. Why didn’t the pirate shower before he walked the plank?
    1. He figured he would wash up on shore
  20. Why are pirates pirates?
    1. Because they just ARRRRRR!