The Games of Yesteryear Alive and Well

Casey Metz, Senior Crew Supervisor, (far right) joins the Hayman Crew for a teambuilding game up at Pike National Forest.

“Casey—what’s a mammal that spends most of it’s time in water, but doesn’t have fins or flippers, and is not a rodent?”

As I travel from crew to crew, I’m often greeted by crazy, point-blank questions. Anyone who has worked long days on a conservation crew understands that an intensely competitive game of Twenty Questions can’t be interrupted with insipid pleasantries like “how’s it going?” or “long time no see.” Twenty Questions requires holding all the facts in view at once, which requires an unbroken chain of concentration.

“Maybe a sea otter?” I ventured.

“Nope. Tried that.”

Most recently I visited the Hayman Crew, and was greeted this way:

“Casey—was Danny DeVito in Big Fish?”

Must be the movie game. In this game, the first team names a movie, the second team names an actor/actress in that movie, the first team names a new movie with that actor/actress, and so on, ad nauseam, until one team corners the other.

Cian Delahunty’s team is plotting their strategy during lunch break. He explains:

“We went with The Phantom Menace, which means they’ll probably go Ewan McGregor, and then we can go Big Fish, which doesn’t have anyone really except Ewan McGregor, unless it has Danny DeVito.”

These are the same word games that I played on crew, and many of the NCCC vets on our staff are familiar with them as well. These are the games that families used to play on the way to Grandma’s house, before minivans came equipped with DVD players.

Our crews work in analog environments, and it’s refreshing to see that in the absence of Lolcats and iPods, these 18-24 year olds have the curiosity to resort to this sort of folk entertainment. In addition to guessing games and the movie game, there are spelling games, improvised song parodies (my favorite so far is Tree Falling, to the tune of Tom Petty’s Free Falling) and, of course, riddles.

So in conclusion, here are five riddles that I’ve heard on different trail crews throughout the years. To simulate the trail experience, give them an honest try before Googling the answers:

1. The man who invented it doesn’t want it. The man who bought it doesn’t need it. The man who needs it doesn’t know it. What is it?
2. I am weightless, but you can see me. Put me in a bucket, and I’ll make it lighter. What am I?
3. What walks on four legs in the morning, two at mid-day, and three in the evening?
4. I have two U.S. coins that add up to fifty-five cents. One is not a nickel. What coins are they?
5. A woman gave birth to two sons who were born on the same hour of the same day of the same year but were not twins. How is this possible?

-Casey Metz, Senior Crew Supervisor


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