This month’s blog post is a chapter of a book written by Cole and titled How to Be a Missionary Kid. He wrote it for an English class assignment, and the title of this chapter is “Run Around in the Mud.”
It’s impressive how much fun we could have with merely the space around three houses on a muddy hill. Our houses were pretty spaced apart, so with the addition of the Chopper Pad, we had enough area to play epic games of every variety. The games I can remember playing are Capture the Flag, Fishbowl, Ball Tag, Piggy Wants a Wiggle, Freeze Tag, Disease Tag, Freeze Tag Disease Tag, The Red Ball Game, HAGSFT, HAGSBFT, Prison Break, and BANG! They were arguably all just variations and hybrids of tag and hide and seek, but each game had a unique set of rules that made it awesome to play.
One of our very favorites was Capture the Flag, one of the few games that Pal kids would join in. We used machetes to draw the center line in the dirt on the Chopper Pad, and from there we pretty much played with no boundaries. You could go as far as you like into the wild viridescent yonder, attempting to sneak unnoticed onto the other team’s territory, planning ambushes, and freeing your friends from jail. We usually made it a rule that you had to either be on the other team’s territory, chasing someone on your own territory, or right up at the line to prevent babyguarding. This was probably what made the games so much more fun, eliminating all the boring guarding and waiting, than Capture the Flag games I’ve played here in America or even on our mission center in town.
We traditionally used shoes for the flags, setting them in plain sight at either end of the Chopper Pad. If a person was able to make it through the ranks of opposers, snatch the flag, and sprint back towards their own side, the game was over. Some rounds lasted twenty seconds; some lasted ten minutes. We also added the rule that if a person carrying the shoe was tagged, they could drop the shoe where it was and go to jail instead of putting it back. Then, if the shoe got close enough to the center line, a tall person on our team could lay down, keeping a single toe on our own side, and stretch out to retrieve the flag from the opposing side.
Another classic, one of the other games in which the Pal kids would get involved, was HAGSFT, which stood for Hide And Go Seek Freeze Tag. (HAGSBFT combines it with Ball Tag.) A couple people are chosen to be IT, and they count to thirty while everyone runs away and hides. Everybody who hides is on a team together; their goal is to all simultaneously be touching the previously designated Base (usually a water tank or barrel). IT’s job is to prevent this from happening by chasing people down and tagging them, which makes them frozen until a teammate unfreezes them. If someone is touching the Base, they are immune to being frozen, but they can leave the base to run and unfreeze their teammates. If IT has everyone frozen at once, their team wins.
This one was probably even more well liked than Capture the Flag. Sometimes, when we struck the perfect balance of teams, we had games that went on for quite a long time – I think our longest game was somewhere around an hour. Over and over again, we’d run, unfreeze all our teammates, and then sprint back to the Base together only to realize that one or two of us had been recaptured. When at last we got everybody to the water tank, or when the IT team froze all of us, we’d all stop, sit down, rest for about four minutes, and then jump into a new half-an-hour long game.
And then, of course, there was football. I don’t really know what to say about it other than that it was fun. We had some amazing catches and spectacular slips and falls in the dirt, some of which ended in minor injury. But it was fun. Mostly.
And THEN, of course, there’s yet another sport that we partook in quite often, though we didn’t enjoy it as much as our other games. But since every good novel needs a few cliffhangers, I’ll explain it in about three chapters.