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Capture the Flag: A Classic Outdoor Game

Physical Game Provides Lots of Exercise


Cheerful multi-generation family running in park
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If you were ever a Boy Scout, you probably played Capture the Flag. It can be a bit rough and physical. For milder versions, see the variations. It's a great game for parks or other areas with some trees. You'll need some cover to keep from being captured!


School age children can play Capture the Flag.

Equipment Needed

You'll need two improvised flags and flagpoles. Bandannas or fabric scraps on sticks will do.

Where to Play

You'll need a large area that's not too open.

How to Play

Players are divided into two teams. Each team has its own territory with a boundary designated between the two. Each team must also designate a spot to serve as a jail. This need not be anything more than a particular rock or tree that a prisoner has to touch. Another decision that must be made is how large the designated safety zone around the flag should be. When the game begins, each team must decide where to place its flag. Once placed, it cannot be moved, although it can be guarded. Those guarding their own flag may not enter the safety zone around the flag unless in pursuit of an opposing team member.

Once the flag is placed, team members are assigned to guard their own flag or to enter enemy territory to try to capture the other team’s flag. Any player in enemy territory can be caught and put in jail. The classic Boy Scout rules say that the capture is made by holding the other player long enough to say “Caught” three times. Some play that tagging the other player is sufficient. Prisoners can be released by being tagged by a teammate, but only one prisoner can be rescued at a time.

A team wins the game by capturing the other team’s flag and bearing it back to their home territory. If a flag is seized but is recaptured before reaching the opponents' territory, the flag is set up where it was recaptured. If a game must be ended before a flag is captured, the team with the most prisoners wins.


Tagging the opponents rather than catching makes the game a little less rough. Another variation is played with Nerf guns. Instead of catching or tagging opponents, players hit opponents with a Nerf missile.

See More Classic Kids Outdoor Games

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