Monday, May 07, 2018

Managing Energetic Kids - The Fox & the Hounds Game

Age and Intelligence beats youth and energy, but only if you actually use your aged intelligence. Kids are notoriously energetic. It is the purpose of every teacher and youth leader to wear down kids so they will take a nap and give you a badly needed break.

The great traditional game for wearing out children is "Tag".  There's only a problem with Tag as played with today's precious snowflakes. The problem is that the person who is "It" is the center of attention. And today's children want to be the center of attention no matter what.

So when we played tag with our school kids and my children in residential treatment, we used to have a problem getting the "It" person to chase and tag anyone. They wanted to stay "It" so they only pretended to chase people. Other kids wanted to be "It" so they would run up to whoever was "It" and try to make him tag them. Everybody got bored and stopped playing.

The solution was to invert the game so you have to run in order to be the center of attention. So we came up with this game called "The Fox and the Hounds".  Here's how you play.


  • Large playing field, or lightly wooded terrain.
  • Faux fur tail - basically a piece of fake fur or soft cloth about three feet long


There are no teams. There is one person who is the fox and everyone else is a hound. Can be played by 3 or more people.  If you have 20 or so kids, you can have multiple foxes for completely chaotic (and wonderfully exhausting) play.

How to play:
  1. Select your first fox. Explain that he or she remains the fox until someone grabs their tail. The fur tale is inserted in the back of the child's belt or pants (not too far unless you want to lose your pants when someone pulls your tail out.
  2. Explain to the rest that they are hounds and their job is to chase the fox, while making barking or baying sounds just like hounds.
  3. Give the fox a 15 second head start and turn him loose. Signal the hounds to begin the chase and watch the fun.
  4. When the hounds run down the fox and someone grabs its tail, stop the game. 
  5. Set up the new hound with a tail and turn him loose again, wait the 15 seconds and then release the hounds!
  6. Everybody wants to be the fox so the chase gets pretty energetic. The game usually lasts about 20 or 30 minutes before everyone is exhausted. 
Strategy Tips:
  • The structure of the game is a great equalizer. If the fastest kid in the group becomes the fox, the "hounds" learn pretty quickly to do what a wolf pack does. They chain run the fox. A couple of kids chase him till they get tired, then another couple of kids chase him and so forth until he gets exhausted and slows down to the point where someone can catch him. The chase patterns get so mixed up that even the slowest kids may snag the tail as the fox runs past.
  • At any rate the game is fast-paced, exhausting and guaranteed to wear out the little darlings using their own desire to be the center of attention against them. The Fox has everyone chasing him so he's the center of attention so he runs very fast to retain the attention of the group. The hounds want to BE the center of attention so they run very fast to catch him. This adds up to one exhausting session.

This one works great if you'd like the kids to go home worn out and sleep soundly. You have to learn to judge how tired they are or they nod off in their mashed potatoes at supper.

© 2018 by Tom King

1 comment: