Great People Hunt Coordinator
Number of People: 1 (plus a bell-ringer)
The Great People Hunt is a large-scale, dramatized game of "Hide and Seek" in which the Senior Teens (and alumni) hide and the younger kids hunt. Those caught are sacrificed to the sea gods off the pier. As coordinator, you should work closely with the Senior Teen leaders. They take on the bulk of the task organizing the Great People; your job is to handle the on-island event coordination, help pass on the culture of the game, and make sure things are in control during the event itself. A large portion of the fun of this game is folklore and tradition, which has been passed down through the generations and has now been documented electronically. Apologies if this document is a bit long.
Your Job - before the conference
Email the Children's Program Coordinator and get a rundown of the size of the children's groups.
Get in touch with the Senior Teen leaders. Make a plan to visit the group for 20 minutes on Monday or Tuesday.
Do the math and figure out how many Great People and how many Hunters there are.
Decide whether or not you're going to allow "Senior Teen Alumni" to hide.
Pack a stopwatch or other timekeeping device so you can tell time during the event.
In terms of number of participants, you ideally want around 15-20 Great People and roughly 2x - 3x that many Hunters. (25 Great People and 50ish Hunters has worked.) If there are too many Great People and not enough Hunters, you can either disallow Alumni, or suspend Real Rule #7 and let the Junior/Mid Teens go crazy. It will definitely speed up the game, but you may wind up with a bunch of little kids who don't get any bounties and that's no fun.
A word on Alumni: Since 2007, we've allowed Senior Teen Alumni to join the Great People. "Alumni" are adults (usually under 25) who find hiding in the Hunt fun, often because they used to do it as Senior Teens. As a result, many Senior Teens assume that Alumni will be allowed to hide each year. In 2017, we had too many Senior Teens and had to limit the number of Alumni that could hide. Ultimately it is your decision whether or not to allow Alumni, but if you buck the trend from previous years, it may or may not go over well with Young Adults that had different expectations. Communicate this decision early, often, and firmly. Consider asking the Chairs for a list of registered folks under 25 and email them in advance. You should also write an article for the Dockside Post (fun to do anyway) and make announcements at meal time.
Your Job - on the island
Visit the Senior Teens, talk up the game, read them the Unwritten Rules, and make yourself available to help with hiding places.
Ask Junior Teen and Mid Teen leaders to talk to their groups. You may want to visit them as well. Emphasize Real Rule #7 (if applicable) but see the note about New Shoalers.
Talk to Conference Services early in the week and arrange for a lifeguard during the post-game plunge. They are only needed for an hour (or less).
Arrange for at least one helper to ring the bell during the Hunt (ask a Ding-A-Ling).
Arrange for a handful of people to corral the hunters for you in the Lobby (or on the Front Porch) while the Great People hide.
Keep an eye on the weather for Wednesday. Thunderstorms are cause for immediate cancellation, and if rain starts falling before the event, the Front Lawn can get quite hazardous.
Run the actual event, usually Wednesday night after dinner.
When the Hunt starts, gather everyone on the Front Stairs for pre-game festivities. The Great People will line up near the Wellhouse. Welcome the crowd, read the Real Rules, and then have the Great People introduce themselves by counting off. The Great People often make a fake map with their hiding places, taunt the crowd with it, then rip it up and eat it. Remember to put on a good show! The parents love pomp, circumstance, and terrible jokes. The Teens know the traditions, but the more you can set the stage for the young kids (and the parents) the better.
Before ringing the first bell, send the kids up into the Lobby (no peeking!). Parents will often step up to corral the kids but it doesn't hurt to pick a few helpers beforehand. Ring the first bell to release the Great People so they can hide. At the 4 minute 30 second mark, give the parents a 30 second warning so the Hunters can count down (10 - 9 - 8 - etc). When they get to zero ring the second bell to release the Hunters.
As the hunt goes on, try to keep track of which Great People have and have not been caught. At least you should keep a count – this is harder than it sounds! Note that there isn't really an "end" point to the game (except "everyone's been caught"), but parents will start to get itchy if it gets even close to 30 minutes long. The teens usually show up eventually.
The Real Rules
Great People may not hide IN buildings, ON TOP of buildings, or UNDER buildings. They may be ON a porch but they may not be UNDER a porch. They must stay within the Children's Boundary and may not hide in Authorized Personnel Only areas.
After the opening ceremonies, the Hunters will gather in the Lobby. The first bell will ring. The Great People then have FIVE (5) minutes to hide.
The second bell will ring. The Hunters will be released. The have FIFTEEN (15) minutes to seek out the Great People.
The third bell will ring. This indicates that the game is almost over and there are only FIVE (5) minutes left!
If a Great Person manages to run back to the Wellhouse before they are tagged, they are home free.
Note: should this actually happen, it does not free all of the previously-captured Great People.
The GPH is ONE-HAND TAG. It is NOT a tackle sport. If a Great Person is tagged they must surrender to the person who tagged them. When you capture a Great Person your entire team MUST escort them back to the Wellhouse before resuming your hunt.
Junior Teens and Mid Teens must hunt with a smaller child and must surrender their (first) bounty to the child.
Note: This rule applies to Old Shoalers; New Shoaler Junior/Mid Teens should be allowed to hunt "for real" on their own in their first year.
Note: If there are a larger-than-usual number of Great People (or smaller-than-usual number of Hunters), consider suspending this rule entirely.
Note: DO NOT hold on to the hand of the younger child while chasing a Great Person! [Every injury I've seen in the last 20 years has been because of this. -BC]
In the event of a disputed tag or "home free" claim, the GPH Coordinator's ruling is final.
Talking to the Senior Teens - the "unwritten" rules
For the most part, the history and culture of the game passes itself down from generation to generation of Senior Teens. Your job is to help it along. If you are allowing Senior Teen Alumni to hide, make an effort to meet with them before the game as well. There are always a few Great People who are New Shoalers and don't know the game, or new Senior Teens who need to be told the unwritten rules. Some folks are reluctant to play. Not every Senior Teen needs to hide; don't force them. (But they can't hunt; that's not fair.) Tell them about the game, share any memories you have of past Hunts, and encourage them to have fun with it.
#1: This game isn't about you, it's about the younger kids. Have fun, put on a good show, and remember that the best possible outcome is to go down in a blaze of glory on the Front Lawn under a pile of six-year-olds.
#2: Everybody. Gets. Caught. But the kids don't know this is a rule, so —again — make a good show. Tagging the Wellhouse and getting "home free" isn't as challenging as it seems, and it's definitely not interesting for the crowd, so don't really try. (I should know, I did it twice. -BC) If you do try, you have to "stick the landing". You can't just run past and touch it.
#3: Everybody goes in the water, even if you make it home free. Life vests are available on the pier if you want one — no judgement. You don't have to swim from the dock to the shore if you don't want to. Tradition dictates that we sing "Kumbayah" and march slowly up the pier. Verses include "The water's cold/freezing/salty/wet, my Lord", "The tide is high/low, my Lord", and "We won't get caught, next year". Encourage the teens to come up with new ones. Pick someone to lead the song and shout out the verses. Once everyone is on the pier, the first person in line can run for the floating dock and everybody can stop singing. DON'T RUN DOWN THE GANGWAY.
#4: Go over the Real Rules for hiding. Stay out of Authorized Personnel Only areas, like the WTF and the garden behind EMB. Deep in the prickers is great, but ow. Share ideas for hiding places; if you're stuck, ask another Senior Teen. Use the Buddy System: make sure that someone else knows where you're hiding, so if we get to the end of the game and you haven't come out yet, we can come get you. Please don't make me come get you.
#4a: Wear black. Wear camouflage. Wear a costume. Wear a cow suit. Wear a suit and tie. Wear an outer layer, then strip it off when the kids go into the Lobby. No matter what, wear a swimsuit underneath, and bring a towel. Practice the chant so you can do it Wednesday during dinner (2-4-6-8, We are the People Great, We won't be caught). Remember that Wednesday is usually Lobster Night, so be careful of the Waitrae.
#5: Bounties should be no more than a small ice cream ($3 as of this writing). Try very hard to make sure that Mids and Juniors don't get more than one bounty.
#6: Bring a timekeeping device like a watch. You will not be able to hear the warning bell. Don't use a phone, because the lit-up screen will give you away. Don't use anything that beeps (I made that mistake one year -BC). If 20 minutes has passed and you're still in your hiding place, get out of it and run for the Front Lawn. The Wind Tunnel (between Gosport and Cottage A) is dramatic but tricky. The Tennis Courts are a kill zone. More people will see you coming if you come around Brookfield (and feel free to use the volleyball court if you need to). The softball field is the cheap way out and no one ever looks in that direction, so be prepared to run into Right Field and take the long way around.
last update: Ben Cordes, July 2023