Captain's Orders

An active, drama, camp game for large groups

How To Play Captain's Orders

This game is excellent for a competitive group. It tires everyone out really quickly and can provide a good opportunity to award a prize to the winner.

You have one person to be the leader or "Captain". He has to call out different actions but is limited to some (or all) of the following actions to call out. Pick and choose the best actions for your group. Or make up your own and share them in the comments.

Man Overboard
Players have to drop to the floor into planking position.

Captain's Coming
Players must stand at attention and salute the 'captain'.

Starboard / Port
Players must run to the designated side of the room.

Scrub The Deck
Players must squat on the ground and scrub the deck.

Climb The Rigging
Players must stand up and pretend to climb the rigging.

Man The Lifeboats
Three players have to pair up. They must sit in a row with the two on the end holding their hands out to make a boat shape and the person in the middle rows the boat.

Find North
The players have to pair up into groups of three and point in one direction.

A boy and girl pair up. The guy gets on one knee and holds the girl by her waist while the girl sticks her arms out imitating the scene from the movie "Titanic".


Added by
on 21 March 2012


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To anyone confused about why this is listed as a socially distant option, the actions listed are simply suggestions, so in order to play non-contact, simply remove those actions from your list and enjoy! Lots of fun and freedom to make it your own!

Posted by Aaron 1 year ago

how do you win?

Posted by ACraven 3 years ago

We did Captain's Girlfriend (Say 'wooh wooh' in a whistling sound and twist your body)

Posted by Harry 3 years ago

By default it may not be a social distancing suitable game but the way the game is played can be easily tweaked to work well for social distancing.

Firstly - ensure players are standning the required distance apart.

Secondly - ensure you don't use the actions that require players working together or running near each other. This will mean the actions are limited to what an individual player can do on the spot and you may need to make up some extra actions to keep this interesting.

Suitable action recommendations - Man Overboard, Climb the Rigging, Captain's Coming, Scrub the Deck, Man the Lifeboats (as an individual, rowing), Find North (individual player points north).

Posted by Joel 3 years ago

This is NOT a social distanced game like you said! please resort it elsewhere.

Posted by RFW 3 years ago

It was a great game

Posted by Jessica 4 years ago

We'll do these!

Starboard (run to the right side of the room)
Port (run to the left side of the room)
Scrub The Deck (squat on the ground and scrub the deck)
Climb The Rigging (stand up and pretend to climb the rigging)
Captain's coming (salute and don't move)
Polly Want a Cracker (flap arms like birds wings and run around the room)
Lost Me Wooden Leg (hop around on one foot)
We're under attack (duck from the bomb)
Mutiny (first person to jump up and down with their hands in the air is the new captain)
Sink or Swim (pretend to drown)
Shark Attack (both hands together like triangle above your head)
On the island (climb on a chair because the ship sunk)

Posted by anon 4 years ago

The kids always enjoy this game. We begin it with the call, “Cap’ns on Deck” where the players line up to salute. It is almost always followed by “At Ease!” where they continue to stand in line but with a side step right into a wide stance with their hands clasped behind them. Another call is “Bring out the ladders” where players form groups of five, single file with arms on the player ahead, Congo line style. The ladder can only be added on to at the back end. Another call is “Mermaids and Sailors” where groups of two are formed, with one player dancing a sailor’s jig, while the other wiggles a bit, primps her hair and alluring says, “Hi, Sailor!” This one is particularly funny when the boy pairings work out who is the mermaid. In our version, players are eliminated if they are “odd ones out”, i.e., the left overs who can’t make a pair or group of five, etc. we usually play at least 3 rounds. Ahoy!

Posted by Coach Babz 4 years ago

We used to do something similar at Afterschool Club. We played it like Simon Says, so I named it "Salty Seadog Simon Says". How you could extend this game, is: When players have begun to know this game well, print/write actions on small cards. The players make a pose (except Mutiny). The captain draws a card out of a bag and reads the pose (putting the card to one side). Whoever is making that pose stays in or out, whichever you choose. The captain then draws another card, and so on. The winner is the last one out, or whoever is still in when all the cards have been read out.

Posted by Gill 4 years ago

No quite the same as we do. We keep it all as single person actions and keep it moving fast. In summer we throw water at them with the scrub the deck instruction. (In not drought times)

Posted by Sally 4 years ago

Dear Sir or Madam,
The game is a great one, I used to play it when I was young, I'm 52. But I agree the end should not be played that way for kids, now for a couple retreat the end would be great.

Posted by British Brown 5 years ago

Its "helpful" when the person calling instructions remembers to do something other than what the instructions say! For example say "port" but point to starboard.
The Jr High segment of our group wanted to keep on playing even though most of the were out of breath!
Great game! Thanks for the forum to add suggestions!

Posted by DaveB 5 years ago

i like the titanic part

Posted by mia khalifa 5 years ago

Great game - for children - we add Swim the Sea (act swimming) and Sharks coming - adults/helpers chase all the kids who have to sit down when tagged! Usually causes huge excitement!

Posted by Anne Hamilton 5 years ago

Used this game at the camp I work at, great fun. We added an order where the Captain said "we're under attack" and they ducked from the bomb, worked well. Lots of fun.

Posted by Francesca 5 years ago

It’s sad that you can’t even do a simple titanic pose without having people against it. Young men “knowing” and growing up in a church should know to control themselves enough to handle a simple position. So sad.

Posted by Summer 6 years ago

I used to run this game a lot for children at church and we had one called 'climb the rigging '. They had to stand on the spot and with their arms and legs pretend they were climbing. A great one to wear them out. They loved it

Posted by Stephen 6 years ago

Shark Attack -- make a fin above your head (both hands together like triangle)

Man Your Stations -- students have a designated corner of the room (numbered off) that they must run too. Last one to their station is out.

Polly Want a Cracker -- students must flap their arms like birds wings and run around the room

Lost Me Wooden Leg -- studens must hop around on one foot

Posted by Josh 6 years ago

I added a new command called Arm Yer'Self. The players have to stick one arm straight out like it's a sword and say "aarrr!". The last player to do this is out.

Posted by Dan 6 years ago

Tatiana, there are different ways to play. Either use for an exercise so the class is moving and following direction or if looking for a winner then last one to follow the instruction or get to the place indicated is out. Keep going till you have a winner. A bit like musical chairs.

Posted by Emma 7 years ago

How does somebody win this game? This sounds like a blast and I'd love to play it with my students! I'm just not entirely clear on the objective:)

Posted by Tatiana 7 years ago

I added a command called Mutiny, to be called by the adult or youth leader... When they call it, the first person to jump up and down with their hands in the air is the new captain. That way others get a turn without kids having to be "out," but it isn't just an arbitrary choosing of the new captain.

Posted by victoria 7 years ago

good game to play !!!!!!!!

Posted by monisha 7 years ago

Some others:
Sink or Swim
The player have to pretend to drown.
Walk the Plank
Two players have to pair up. One stands with their arms behind their back as if handcuffed, while the other stands behind them and points as if towards an imaginary plank.
X Marks the Spot
Three players have to pair up. Two players huddle together and look at a map, the other player lies down with arms and legs out wide as the X.

Posted by Laura 7 years ago

When we played this as a youth group, we did "crows nest" where 3 kids had to link arms in a circle facing outward and we did "captains table" where 5 kids pretended to stand in a circle around a table and eat.

Posted by KT 7 years ago

Haha..funny but interesting.

Posted by roxy 8 years ago

We played this exact game during my my university's orientation! We called it ships&sailors. We had Captain's coming (salute and don't move), at ease (can move around again) beached whale (lying on the ground), mermaid (lay on ground and wave prettily), 5 men pointing north, 3 men rowing a boat, titanic, 4 men eating dinner (group up and act like you're eating), Ships (run left), sailors (run right) and then we would add whatever else we wanted, but it was always a great time! A hit with all the students!

Posted by 10 years ago

We played this in a way that ended up pretty much being Simon says, with the last person to perform the action out, and with some added actions such as the floor is lava, and their personal favourite touch the shoes of a certain youth leader. Hilarious to watch, and even better if the leader doesn't know it's coming. Game went really well, but I wouldn't use the titanic action for the same reasons as Nate.

Posted by Jim McIntyre 11 years ago

With young people being so knowing these days we try to limit any physical contact between boys and girls. even having a spare moment to talk has caused problems in the past. so the titanic call is extreemly inappropriate for youth groups hosting young non christian youth. we have a call called find the island, everyone climbs on a chair because the ship sunk.

Posted by 11 years ago

Thats a good idea nate. If you wanted to maybe alter the game and have a little fun. Personally the Titanic in my opinion was a love story so I think that player move is fine as it is

Posted by Chris 12 years ago

good game! for titanic i can see that be awkward. instead boys pretend to drown and girls paddle or something.

Posted by nate 12 years ago
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