MANTRACKER: A How-To Guide
Mantracker is all about teams of 2-3 reaching the final destination without getting caught (good luck) by the leaders/Mantrackers. This is a great game for any size group and can be played in really any type of location.
- 1 Map per person/team – Students need to know where to go.
- Sharpies for Mantrackers – To MARK a student when they are caught.
- End Game Location Marker – Something easy to see.
- Mantracker Vehicles – Up to you and your leaders and the location.
- Snacks – Your call for after the event. I also recommend water.
- Time Cards – To keep track of students.
- Headcount Sheet – Don’t want to lose anyone.
This game is extremely easy to prepare and set-up. The hard part is you need to take care of some of these details a few weeks in advance so everyone is ready the night of the event.
- The basic idea is that students will run from “POINT A” to “POINT B” without getting caught. However, students don’t want to run forever and it’s not fun for them or you if they get lost. Here are a few location suggestions.
- Backyard near the Church: This is the best because kids have a place to be when they arrive and some of them may even know how to get there (That doesn’t help them in the game, trust me.)
- City Park: This is good because it’s a contained area and most likely you can get your hands on a pro map. If there are lots of trails have kids stick to the trails.
- Large Church: You could play this inside of a very large church. This would make the game MUCH FASTER but that may not be a problem.
- No matter what you pick you need to be able to provide each team with a MAP.
- You can also place this at any time of the year but we tend to do it in the summer.
- The MAP serves as both a general guide, place for your contact info and some basic ground rules to follow.
- I have found it best when using a Google Map to keep some street names so kids can figure out where they are but not so zoomed in that all the names are there.
NOTE: Honestly even if they know exactly how to get there they still need to avoid getting caught. We played to the same location two years in a row and they were WORSE the second year and everyone had there been before.
- Students need to travel around in teams of at least 2. This is CRAZY important and something we stress a lot in the rules. To facilitate this, we tied kids together at the wrist. Made for an epic adventure and story and I knew no one could get lost.
NOTE: That was our method because a kid wandered off year one, but it’s not a hard rule.
- You need enough adults in cars, on bikes, or on foot between your start and finish locations to make it fun and challenging. I have 10-12 people for 50 kids if that helps you. Give your leaders the location early so they can plot out a good route. If you have any policy concerns you could also put two leaders to a car.
- Make time cards, enough for each person to get one at the end of each round. These time cards can just be a small slip of paper but they need the following on them.
- Name: Jesse Criss
- Place: 18th
- Marks: 6 Marks
- This will help you with scoring and be something your leader can handout at the end location.
End Game Location Marker
- You need something to identify the end game location. Think of a BIG SIGN, Balloons, Youth Banner or something Amazing Race style. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s visible.
- 10-12 Mantrackers per 50 kids
- 1-2 Leaders for Starting Location to give Rules
- 1-2 Leaders for End Location and manage Time Cards
- If you have more people, leaders can run and play with kids.
This is a basic rundown of how to play the game. Please remember that you will need to modify this to fit your needs. Its super flexible and can easily be adapted.
How to Play
- Have every student sign-in and give a contact number for the headcount sheet (just in case someone gets lost). Give a copy of the sheet to the END LOCATION leader.
- Students, in partners (tied together) will need to get from the STARTING LOCATION to the END LOCATION marked on your map without being spotted by a Mantracker.
- All Mantrackers will be traveling around the playing area on foot or in some other form of transportation.
- If the Mantrackers are on cars or bikes, students are spotted if they make solid eye contact with a Mantracker and are called by name
- If the Mantrackers are on foot they must TAG students with a 2 hand touch style.
- Mantrackers can’t hover or puppy guard.
- If students are spotted by a Mantracker in a vehicle or tagged by a Mantracker on foot they MUST stop and receive a MARK on their hand from the Mantracker who spotted/tagged them.
- Students can’t run away (If they run away, more points will be added against them at the end of the game.
- Students must come to Mantrackers when SAFE to do so
- All the MARKS on hands, position they came in and time they arrived at the finish line will be calculated to decide the winner.
- Students must travel by foot and cannot use any form of transportation other than your own two feet.
- Do not go into anyone’s yard or personal property (car, truck, garbage cans etc.)
- The finish line will be marked with an “End Game Location Marker,” and once students have arrived they can wait for everyone else and enjoy some snacks (they will be hungry!)
- No vehicles for students of any kind (Car, bus, bike, plane, train etc.)
- If students get SPOTTED they MUST report to the MANTRACKER
- Stay off people’s private property
- Look for the END GAME MARKER at the finish line
- Remember every mark counts against you so BE CAREFUL…
- You must STAY TIED together the WHOLE TIME… no solo play.
- Once every student has arrived decide the winner based on the following criteria.
- Total Marks THEN Place they came in
- If someone comes in 1st Place but was caught 20 times, they shouldn’t beat the person who came in 4th Place who was caught 3 times.
- EXAMPLE: Say the person who comes in first gets caught 10 times and the person in 2nd got caught 9 times… did the person in 2nd win? YES because they had less MARKS.
- I like to give away a prize to whoever was overall caught the most… they usually deserve it.
This year we gave all our kids a raw egg to run with that had a number on it. If they were able to complete the whole night without breaking their egg they were entered into a draw to win an extra prize. It was a fun edition and worked extremely well.
This is a great game but when it’s all over make sure you review how things went.
- What worked well?
- How did the scoring go?
- Were leaders fair?
- How could we have added to the event?
- Where else could we play Mantracker?
The goal with this Walkthrough is to give you a glimpse of the top to bottom plan for an event. There are a few things I have always tried to remind myself, my leaders and my students at every event we do.
- Flexibility is primary: Things always need to be adapted. As much as this guide works it need to be modified to fit your context, location and needs. But more importantly things always come up the night of any event. Our job is to be flexible and adapt on the fly. Its why it’s so important to have a plan and a guide to the event.
- 10% Rule: Never forget that 10% of people that come to anything that you do will not be happy. Some part of what happens will bother them. We need to listen and learn from the 10% but don’t let it override the 90% that are having a fantastic time.
- Have Fun: Just enjoy yourself, have fun, and follow the above things and you will have a BLAST.
If you have any questions or any ideas to add please contact me through Fresh Ministry Consulting.
Jesse Criss is the Grade 11/12 Pastor at Willingdon Church and he recently founded FRESH MINISTRY CONSULTING. He is a veteran Youth Pastor with 17 years worth of experience, is married and has beautiful twin girls.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.