Traffic Jam

Enjoyment Factor: 6/10

Teamwork Rating: 8/10

Leadership Opportunity: 7/10

Age Range: 14+

Activity Time: 45 Minutes

Set Up Time: No Set Up

Equipment Requirements: Low



This is another activity that was around at my camp long before I got there but is a good intellectual puzzler for teams. It is an activity that really works best on a balance beam, ideally with segments marked every 12inches. If you have a balance beam (or even a log on the ground would work) but no segments on it then crack out a measuring tape and some washable paint!

the idea

With a group of 8-10 people arrange them on your balance beam with each person in a segment and the teams on separate sides but with one space in the middle. The aim of the game is to get the teams to swap sides and remain in the same order with the space in the middle at the end. There are a number of constraints, however, that make this much more difficult than it sounds!

  1. Obviously the teams must remain on the balance beam at all times. If anyone falls or touches the ground at any point then both teams must reset.
  2. There must always be a clear space on the beam and there can only be one person in a space at one time - i.e. a person can step forward into the space in the middle and since they have vacated their own space there is still a free space but it is now in a different position.
  3. You cannot move backwards! As soon as you step forward you cannot go back even it means the game cannot be completed then. If the game reaches a point where it is impossible to complete then the teams must restart.
  4. You can step over someone as long as you are moving into a space - i.e. if you are in team A and there is someone from team B immediately in front of you and the space immediately behind them then you can step over them (without falling or touching the ground) into the space and thus leaving your own space behind you as the new space.
  5. if you have more spaces than people in the team then use the same set up with the teams on different sides and the space in the middle but mark the extra spaces at either end to make sure they are not used.

Those are all of the rules to follow for this game and I have tried to make them as clear as possible. Using text it is difficult to describe the solution to this game but I will give it my best shot… What I would recommend is use a condensed version on a table with salt and pepper shakers as your different teams and the spaces marked out so you can see how the game works.

So the teams should be set up as follows:

A   A   A   A          B   B   B   B

With the teams on different sides and the space in the middle.

B moves first

A   A   A   A   B          B   B   B

A lot of the time the second person in B will then move as well this is a mistake! as you will then have two B's next to each other

A   A   A   A   B   B          B   B

Then all of the A's are trapped as there is no way to separate the two B's next to them as you cannot move back or have more than one person in a space.

The correct sequence is for A to step over B:

A   A   A          B   A   B   B   B

Then the following often happens which is common mistake 2

A   A   A   B          A   B   B   B

As the only option after this is for A or B to end up next to one of their teammates trapped in the middle.

The next move is for A to step forward:

A   A          A   B   A   B   B   B


A   A   B   A          A   B   B   B

A   A   B   A   B A          B   B

A   A   B   A   B   A   B          B

A   A   B   A   B          B   A   B

A   A   B          B   A   B   A   B

A          B   A   B   A   B   A   B

          A   B   A   B   A  B   A   B   

B   A          A   B   A   B   A   B

And so on until you get

B   B   B   B          A   A   A   A

See what I mean by it being a bit of a mess written in text! But what you will notice is that once you get under way is that the space swings from one side to the other and that you should have two members of the same team next to each other unless they have not moved yet or they are at the other side and will not need to move again.

Also, as you can see the game is fairly complicated to workout and when you add in the extra component of people from different teams climbing over each other it gets very difficult!

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