How the Old People Captured the Flag

Deutsch: Capture the Flag, Fahne im Spiel

Deutsch: Capture the Flag, Fahne im Spiel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week I am facilitating a leadership challenge with about a dozen high school students. The program is great in that it not only teaches the students about leadership, but also forces them to immediately put into practice what they are learning. One of the ways we do that is through giving a small group charge over planning evening activities. Last night’s topic was “Team Competitions.” The small group’s choice was Capture the Flag, “old people” versus students. Now, please keep in mind that the old people group consisted of all our staff–from ages 15 to leaving the mid-thirties, so we were not so “old.” Out of shape, definitely, but not old.

If you are unfamiliar with Capture the Flag, the basic premise is that two teams must compete over a wide area to capture the other team’s flag and return it to their land without being captured (tagged). So, a large game of two-team tag with a twist. The “old people” decided to wait it out a while, mainly because many of us were out of shape and did not care to run more than needed. Eventually, the student team began running over to try for our flag and we caught them, sending them to jail where they could be rescued by their team. Unfortunately for them, we often caught the other teammates when they tried to free the captured individuals.At the end of the first game, the old people won, despite the lack of speed and stamina we brought to the table. Here is how we did it:

  • We planned Very quickly, the members of our team put together a plan. This was admittedly not done prior to the start of the game, but soon into it when the young’uns began running into our territory. What we found is that if stayed on one side of our area, allowed them to cross deep into our territory, we could run behind them and essentially corner them. Then by tagging the students, they were sent to jail and will draw more of their teammates in, where we could repeat the process.
  • We communicated During each lull of the game, when no one was trying to reach our flag, we would huddle together and assure that everyone was on the same page. We knew which of the students would be next to run (they often looked like horses excited to start a race). We could communicate about who would be best to go after them, usually by seeing who had the longest break from chasing the previous intruder and therefore least winded.
  • We executed the plan with patience The biggest advantage the “old people’s” team had of the students was patience. For the most part, we did not feel the need to do something right away, but allowed the other team to make their move, where we would capture them. Once we had captured all but four of their team members and we only had three of our team in jail, the odds were much better. Our seven versus their four was an easy ambush that allowed us to release our captive teammates, create more chaos for them, and capture their flag.

Unfortunately, when challenged to a rematch, the students team did win based on their speed and athleticism. But the “old people” were very happy that we were able to outsmart our competition by successfully planning, communicating, and executing.

When have you been able to see a plan successfully executed?

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