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Steal the Bacon – How to Play

Steal the Bacon is a timeless and dynamic game that brings an air of excitement and competition to scouting events. Originating as a simple team game, Steal the Bacon has become a favorite among scouts for its ability to foster camaraderie, quick thinking, and a spirit of fair play.

The essence of the game is captured in its name: two teams face off in a battle to “steal” an object, known as the “bacon,” from the center of the play area and safely return it to their territory without being tagged by an opponent. This straightforward premise belies the depth of strategy, agility, and teamwork required to excel at the game.

Incorporating Steal the Bacon into scouting programs offers leaders a versatile tool to teach valuable life skills such as cooperation, strategic planning, and the importance of physical fitness, all while ensuring the scouts are engaged and having fun.

Whether played in a wide-open field under the sunny sky or in a more confined indoor space, Steal the Bacon adapts seamlessly to its environment, making it a perfect fit for any scouting event. As scouts dash and strategize to “steal the bacon,” they not only build physical strength but also forge stronger bonds with their teammates, embodying the scouting spirit of friendship and teamwork.

Materials and Setup

The materials needed to play Steal the Bacon are refreshingly simple, ensuring that the focus remains on fun and strategy rather than on complicated setups or expensive equipment.

At its core, Steal the Bacon requires nothing more than a soft object to serve as the coveted “bacon” — this can be anything from a small, plush toy to a bean bag or even a rolled-up sock. The choice of bacon should prioritize safety and ease of handling, allowing scouts of all ages to participate without risk. Additionally, markers to delineate team boundaries are essential. These can be cones, ropes, or even natural elements in the environment like sticks or stones, depending on what’s available and suitable for the playing area.

Setting up the game involves designating a rectangular play area, ideally around 20 to 30 feet in length, to accommodate dynamic movement and strategy. The play area is then bisected to create two equal zones, one for each team, with the “bacon” placed directly in the center line. The size of the playing field and the positioning of boundaries can be adjusted based on the number of players and the space available, ensuring that Steal the Bacon can be enjoyed in a variety of settings, from spacious outdoor fields to more confined indoor areas.

For scout leaders looking to adapt Steal the Bacon to different group sizes and settings, flexibility is key. Smaller groups might benefit from a reduced playing area to maintain the game’s intensity, while larger groups can be accommodated by increasing the field size or even playing in teams of multiple scouts. Regardless of the setting or group size, the essence of Steal the Bacon — teamwork, agility, and strategy — remains unchanged, making it a versatile and beloved component of scouting events.

Strategies for Winning at Steal the Bacon

Winning at Steal the Bacon requires more than just speed and agility; it demands clever strategies and teamwork. One effective tactic is stealth and surprise; players can feign disinterest or distraction before suddenly sprinting to grab the “bacon.” This can catch the opposing player off guard, giving the runner a crucial head start. Additionally, teamwork plays a pivotal role in success. Although only one scout from each team runs at a time, team members can offer vocal support and strategic advice from the sidelines, helping the runner to anticipate the opponent’s moves and find the best moment to dash for the “bacon.”

Another strategy involves endurance and patience. In some cases, it’s wise to wait and see if the opposing player will make a move towards the “bacon” first, allowing the waiting player to react quickly and either grab the “bacon” first or tag the opponent as they return to their side. Moreover, practicing a quick, secure grip on the “bacon” can prevent it from being knocked loose during a tag attempt, ensuring the runner maintains possession all the way back to their team’s territory. These strategies, combined with a spirit of fair play and teamwork, can significantly increase a team’s chances of winning in Steal the Bacon.

Safety Considerations for Steal the Bacon

Ensuring the safety of all participants in Steal the Bacon is paramount, and a few key guidelines can help maintain a secure environment.

  • First, it’s crucial to establish clear, visible boundaries for the play area, utilizing markers that are easily distinguishable to prevent players from inadvertently running outside the designated zone, which could lead to collisions or falls.
  • When explaining the rules, emphasize the proper way to tag — using gentle touches rather than aggressive grabs or pushes, which can cause injuries.
  • Selecting a soft, lightweight object for the “bacon” is also vital. This reduces the risk of injury if a player accidentally gets hit by the object during the excitement of the game.
  • Furthermore, before starting, scout leaders should inspect the play area for potential hazards such as rocks, holes, or uneven ground that could trip up players.
  • Incorporating a brief warm-up session before the game begins can prepare the scouts’ bodies for physical activity, decreasing the risk of muscle strains or sprains.
  • Finally, encouraging players to wear appropriate footwear offers additional protection against slips and falls, ensuring everyone can focus on enjoying the game while staying safe.

Benefits of Playing Steal the Bacon

Steal the Bacon offers a multitude of benefits that align perfectly with the scouting ethos, notably in fostering camaraderie and enhancing physical and mental agility.

The game naturally encourages scouts to work together and support one another, building a strong sense of team spirit and unity. Through the shared goal of winning the game, scouts learn the value of collaboration, communication, and mutual support, all of which are foundational elements of lasting camaraderie.

Moreover, Steal the Bacon is an excellent conduit for developing quick thinking and physical fitness among scouts. The fast-paced nature of the game demands rapid decision-making and adaptability, as players must constantly assess the situation, anticipate opponents’ moves, and devise strategies on the fly. This hones their problem-solving and strategic thinking skills in a fun, engaging environment.

Physically, the game promotes agility, speed, and coordination. The running, dodging, and swift movements required to play effectively contribute to overall physical conditioning, enhancing cardiovascular health and physical stamina.

Thus, Steal the Bacon not only strengthens the bonds between scouts but also contributes significantly to their mental and physical development.

Adapting the Game for Scouting Events

Adapting Steal the Bacon for various scouting events can infuse traditional gatherings with new energy and excitement, while offering a customizable game that caters to the unique dynamics of each group. One way to incorporate it is as a spirited icebreaker at the beginning of scout camps or meetings, helping scouts to mingle and break down social barriers. For larger events, such as jamborees or camporees, Steal the Bacon can be transformed into a tournament with teams competing in a knockout format, adding a competitive edge that can foster team identity and spirit.

To keep the game fresh and challenging for scouts who have played it before, consider introducing variations.

  • Nighttime Play with Glow Sticks: Transform the game into a nighttime adventure by using glow sticks to mark the boundaries and the bacon. This adds an element of mystery and challenges scouts to rely more on their communication skills and senses.
  • Multiple Bacons: Place several objects in the play area to serve as bacons. This requires teams to develop more intricate strategies for both offense and defense, making the game more complex and engaging.
  • Movement Restrictions: Introduce rules that restrict how players can move when carrying the bacon, such as hopping or crawling only. This tests the scouts’ physical agility and encourages creative problem-solving.
  • Multiple Players Called: The umpire can call multiple numbers at once, allowing several players from each team to enter the field simultaneously. This variation increases the intensity and complexity of the game.
  • Thematic Calls: Instead of numbers, use thematic categories like animals, characters, or any fun theme that fits the occasion. This adds a humorous element and can be tailored to match the theme of your scouting event.
  • Educational Twist: Use “Steal the Bacon” as a learning tool by assigning each player a fact (e.g., a city name) instead of a number. When the umpire calls out a question (e.g., “The capital of Missouri”), the player representing the correct answer (in this case, “Jefferson City”) runs out. This variation reinforces educational content in an engaging way.

For scouts with disabilities or mobility issues, adapt the game to ensure inclusivity. This could involve modifying the size of the play area, using verbal cues for visually impaired scouts, or incorporating wheelchair-friendly rules. Such adaptations ensure that Steal the Bacon remains an enjoyable and engaging activity for all scouts, regardless of their physical abilities, promoting inclusiveness and the scouting spirit of camaraderie and friendship.

How to Play Steal the Bacon

Materials Needed

  • Bacon: A soft, easily grabbable object such as a bean bag, small plush toy, or a rolled-up sock. This will serve as the “bacon.”
  • Markers: Cones, ropes, or any visible items to mark the boundaries of the play area and the center line.

Setting Up the Game

  • Play Area: Choose a flat, open space suitable for running. An area about 20 to 30 feet in length works well for most groups.
  • Boundary Markers: Use your markers to delineate the play area’s boundaries, ensuring it’s clearly divided into two equal halves.
  • Center Line: Place another marker or a visible line at the midpoint of the play area to indicate where the “bacon” will be placed.
  • Team Zones: Assign each team to a half of the play area, making sure they’re on opposite sides.

Rules of the Game

  1. Divide Players: Split participants into two teams, trying to balance the numbers and abilities as much as possible.
  2. Assign Numbers: Secretly assign each player a unique number, ensuring players on opposing teams with the same number are matched up against each other.
  3. Position Teams: Each team stands behind their boundary line, facing the center of the play area where the “bacon” will be placed.
  4. Place the Bacon: Put the “bacon” at the center line, equidistant from both teams.
  5. Call Numbers: The game leader or referee calls out a number at random.
  6. Steal the Bacon: Upon hearing their number, the corresponding players from each team rush to the center to grab the “bacon.”
  7. Score Points: To score, a player must pick up the “bacon” and return to their team’s side without being tagged by the opposing player.
  8. Tagging: If the player with the “bacon” is tagged by their opponent before they cross back into their team’s area, no point is scored, and the opposing team may earn a point instead (depending on your variation of the rules).
  9. Winning: The game continues with different numbers being called until a pre-decided number of points is reached or everyone has had a turn. The team with the most points at the end wins.

Tips for a Safe and Fun Game

  • Ensure the “bacon” is soft and safe to grab and run with.
  • Clearly explain the boundaries and rules before starting to minimize confusion.
  • Encourage good sportsmanship and teamwork throughout the game.

More Resources

Games for Scouts

More Games

Games like Steal the Bacon are integral to Scouting because they encapsulate the spirit of learning through play, fostering essential life skills such as teamwork, leadership, quick decision-making, and physical fitness. They provide a fun, engaging platform for scouts to practice cooperation, strategy, and fair play—core values of the Scouting movement. Additionally, these games promote inclusivity and adaptability, encouraging scouts to think creatively and work together regardless of their differences.

By blending physical activity with mental agility, games like Steal the Bacon contribute to the holistic development of scouts, preparing them for challenges both within and beyond Scouting. See more games.

Related Cub Scout Themes

Integrating Steal the Bacon into Cub Scout pack meetings injects an element of excitement and engagement, offering scouts a platform to learn valuable life skills through play. This game adapts seamlessly to various themes, each enhancing the scouting experience in unique ways. Here are a few themes which connect to this timeless game:

Steal the Bacon enriches these pack meeting ideas by blending fun with educational outcomes, making it a cherished activity that promotes teamwork, strategy, and physical fitness among Cub Scouts.

Frequently Asked Questions for Steal the Bacon

What age group is Steal the Bacon suitable for?

Steal the Bacon is suitable for scouts of all ages, from Cub Scouts to older Scouts and Venturers. The game’s rules and complexity can be adjusted to suit younger players or made more challenging for older participants.

How many players are needed to play Steal the Bacon?

The game requires at least four players (two on each team) but can accommodate larger groups. Larger groups increase the fun and complexity, making it a versatile game for events of any size.

Can Steal the Bacon be played indoors?

Yes, “Steal the Bacon” can be adapted for indoor play. Ensure the indoor space is large and safe enough for running, and use soft markers for boundaries to prevent injuries.

What do we do if there’s an uneven number of players?

If there’s an uneven number of players, you can rotate an extra player in and out of the game, have a leader join to balance the teams, or designate one player as a “wild card” who plays for both teams at different times.

How do you ensure the game is safe for all players?

To ensure safety, use a soft object for the bacon, establish clear rules for tagging, and make sure the play area is free of hazards. Supervise the game closely to monitor for rough play and enforce the rules to keep everyone safe.

Are there any variations of Steal the Bacon that make the game more challenging?

Yes, variations can include playing with multiple bacons, incorporating special rules like moving in specific ways (e.g., hopping), or playing in the dark with glow sticks. These variations keep the game fresh and challenging for experienced players.

How do you resolve disputes in the game?

Having a neutral referee or game leader who watches the game closely can help resolve disputes by making impartial decisions. It’s also important to encourage scouts to play with integrity and respect for their fellow players.

How can Steal the Bacon be made inclusive for scouts with disabilities?

Adapt the game by adjusting the play area size, using verbal cues for visually impaired scouts, or modifying rules to accommodate mobility aids. The key is to ensure everyone can participate and have fun together.

Wrapping Up the Bacon

Wrapping Up the Bacon

In conclusion, Steal the Bacon stands as a timeless gem in the treasure trove of scouting activities, offering an exhilarating blend of physical challenge, strategic depth, and unbridled fun. This game, with its simple setup and flexible rules, seamlessly adapts to any scouting event, encouraging camaraderie, quick thinking, and physical fitness among scouts of all ages. Through the various adaptations and variations, Steal the Bacon continues to evolve, ensuring it remains a fresh and engaging activity that captivates both new and seasoned scouts alike.

Beyond just a game, Steal the Bacon embodies the core values of scouting—teamwork, integrity, and inclusivity. It challenges scouts to think on their feet, work together towards a common goal, and most importantly, to enjoy the spirit of friendly competition. Whether played under the sun-drenched sky, by the flickering light of a campfire, or within the bounds of an indoor gathering, “Steal the Bacon” promises laughter, excitement, and memories that linger long after the game has ended.

So, the next time you’re looking to inject some dynamic fun into your scouting event, remember that Steal the Bacon is more than just a game—it’s a catalyst for building stronger, smarter, and more cohesive teams. Let the call of Steal the Bacon echo at your next scout meeting or campout, and watch as it brings your scouting community closer together, one exhilarating dash at a time.


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