After reading Sri Chinmoy's comments, we've been giving more importance to playing games in our Joy-Days (and also in the Centre). This also resulted in rediscovering some of our childhood games. For inspiration of those interested, I describe some of them, from the most soulful to the most... hum... cheerful. I'll just give the basic idea and then you can choose how to operate each game. And I would be happy to learn from my brothers and sisters more games!
Complete the Poem
In this game, you show one of Guru's poems. However, a line or a word is missing. Disciples have to guess it right. You can have the disciples take turns until they get it right or you can have each person guess once and the nearest guess is right. There are different levels of difficulty. For example, an easy one:
"If a seeker wants to be inundated with boundless Peace, Light and ______, then he has to purify his nature." The answer is "Bliss". For more knowledgeable disciples, you can do harder ones.
You print two copies of one poem. One of them you can cut into each individual word or pairs of words, and put them inside an envelope. The other you save as a reference. Then somebody has to reassemble the poem correctly - and read it out. Works well even without competition. Disciples can just go through the different poems for some time. Example easy poem:
God’s Greatness and Goodness
My weakness and meanness
Just be watchful when you read Guru's books everyday. From there you can have amazing questions for nice quizzes! Also, you can have things from disciple's stories - for example: "In Ashrita's famous 24h bike race, how many miles did he do?" Then you can tell the story behind it.
Many possibilities. For example, once I showed a picture of Sri Chinmoywith his family and also friends from the ashram days. Then people have to guess which is which (family or friend). Browse through your pictures and you will find many questions.
You can have a word or a phrase and then people or teams have to guess it. In some cases you can give a hint to make it interesting. On Sri Chinmoy Answers, part 8, Guru says that, “From the spiritual point of view, America's capital is not Washington, but Philadelphia”. So I gave the hint "it's the capital of the USA" and then enjoyed as people became surprised that there is no "w" on that city! Afterwards you can tell the story behind it.
"Pentaphlon", "Heptathlon", etc
You can set up a few games together that count seconds towards one final stage: a 2-mile or 1-mile or 1500m race!
Suggestion for a pentathlon:
1) Tie your shoelaces as fast as you can – standing on one foot! Write down times.
2) Put up a lecture poster on the wall on the fastest time. A referee can give (or take) seconds for the poster being straight or bent, high or low, tape showing, etc. As a special, you might have some important information missing (ex., day of lecture) and then reduce the time of someone who noticed it and corrected. Write times.
3) You can have for example a poem puzzle here and note time
4) And something like singing a song you don’t know only by reading the music. Write times or give a score.
5) Finale time - have the disciples race a 2-mile or 1-mile or 1500m race! First you have to make a conversion chart (points to seconds). So those who did well in previous activities start the race a few seconds earlier! Whoever gets first to finish line wins!
Prizes Game (or "grab the nutella!")
This is a shooting game. You can have prizes (chocolate, incense, CDs, etc) arranged on some kind of structure like piles of chairs or tables. Each one has to throw a rubber ball and hit one of the prizes. To make it softer, we use a rule that the ball has to hit the ground first, bouncing up to hit a prize. A pot of Nutella has been traditionally the most sought-after prize. We set up a few other less wanted prizes in front of it, as a castle wall, so that disciples have to "dig through" to get to their most coveted prizes.