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Ships and Sailors Game

Ships and Sailors is a game where one player gives commands and the others must follow them. A little like Simon Says or Chicken on a Hut or Jackrabbit, except with a nautical theme.

Use Ships and Sailors game for Vacation Bible School, camp, or youth group. It works for a large group and can be played indoors or outside. It requires some memory and listening skills, so it works best for middle school and older.

Start with a few commands and then throw more in the mix as the sailors learn them. You might find it helpful to have a printed list of the commands.

Some of the commands require the sailors to get in a group, forcing some people to be out. So this game moves along pretty quickly.

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Ships and Sailors Game


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  1. Choose one player to be the captain. Everyone else is a sailor.
  2. The captain calls out a command and all of the sailors must do it as the captain counts to 3 to 5 seconds (or even more for younger players) and then says "Halt!"
  3. Any player who has not completed the action when the captain says halt is out.
  4. Play continues until only one player or one small group remains.

Ships and Sailors Game Commands

Ships and Sailors Game Single Person Commands

  • Captain's coming: Stand up straight and salute. Don't move until the captain says "At ease".
  • Sail west: everyone runs to the right side of the playing area.
  • Sail east: everyone runs to the left side of the playing area.
  • Pirates: everyone moves to the front of the playing area.
  • No pirates: everyone moves to the back of the playing area.
  • Sea sick: Sailors pretend to throw up.
  • Hit the deck: everyone lies down on their stomach.
  • Beached whale: Sailors lie down on their backs.

Ships and Sailors Game Group Commands

  • Man overboard: Everyone finds a partner. One kneels down. The other stands behind, and puts a hand on their partner's shoulder. Both put their hands above their eyes like they are scanning the ocean.
  • Three hands rowing: Three sailors line up in a group and pretend to row.
  • Four hands playing cards: Four sailors get in a group and pretend to play a card game.
  • Five hands eating: Five sailors get in a circle and pretend to eat.
  • Walk the plank: Six sailors line up, with their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them.

Related Ideas

Jack Rabbit Posing Game

This is a fun game for teenagers, but would work for other age groups also. The idea of this game is to remember different poses and to strike the correct pose quickly.

Chicken on a Hut Game

Chicken on a Hut game is a team building game which makes a fun break in a meeting. Because of the physical contact with the partners, when playing this game boys are partners with boys and girls are partners with girls.

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  1. Hannah Avatar

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