What do you do when you have an epic discussion about the zombie apocalypse with your Teen Advisory Board, that leads to talking about real life scenarios and a “would you survive discussion?” You create a live action role playing game!
My TAB group has been more or less zombie crazed for the better part of a year. All of them have been begging for some kind of role playing game that involves taking over a large section of the library. After much discussion and a well thought out proposal from one of the girls, the Zombie Apocalypse program was born. My only request was that they plan the entire program from start to finish and help me with clean-up. This is the first program we have planned together as a group and I am super proud of how it all turned out. It took us 6 months and they all learned something about what it takes to run a library program. Needless to say, we will be doing this again very soon!
This was a monster huge program with a ton of prep work. I am breaking down the posts into a few parts. For this round I will walk you through the set-up.
Basic game outline for 30-40 teens:
- Collect enough supplies for your team: Food, Water, Medicine
- Build a shelter that will fit your entire team and get it approved by the Zombie Master (librarian)
- Avoid zombies!
We used 3 large rooms and our outdoor patio. If you are able to do this after hours you can use the entire library! This can be scaled up or down depending on the size of your group. I will explain why 40 teens was a bit much later on.
- Instructions for players
- Lots of empty cereal boxes, cracker boxes, etc..
- Empty water bottles, empty gallon water jugs
- Note cards to go inside boxes and jugs
- Small empty boxes or old microfilm containers for med kits
- Bandages- Torn strips of white cloth
- Pool Noodle shooters- Pom, Poms, Pool noodles, Balloons, rubber bands
- Giant Pom Poms
- Smarties or Nerds
- Bags to carry their loot
- Boxes of all sizes- the bigger the better!
- Other building supplies- Foam blocks, pool noodles, blankets
- The Game Operation or Trouble
- Glow stick bracelets blue- Dollar Store
- Glow stick necklaces green-Dollar Store
- Lots of bright green stickers- Think garage sale stickers
- Funny signs
- Tables for the Medical Station and General store
- Pop-Ice and lots of water for players
- Staff- We had 5 staff for 40 kids and could have used a few more people
- Fans- it gets hot!
The set up:
You will need to do lots of prep work for this game. This is a survival game that requires players to gather food, water, and medical supplies. They also have to build a shelter for their group. Start having library staff save food boxes, water bottles and jugs, and boxes of all sizes for shelters.
We save boxes like cereal, Cheez-its, Mac and Cheese, Pop-Tarts, etc. Each box would feed a certain amount of people. We wrote the number on the outside of the boxes.
You will need single serving water bottles and gallon jugs. Try to avoid Milk jugs for obvious grossness. The single bottle will water one person and gallon jugs will water the whole team. We used more of the single water bottles in the game and limited the amount of gallon jugs.
The evil supply twist:
Here is where you get to have some fun. My teens decided that this needed to be as realistic as possible and very survival based. They determined that based on movies and books, not all the supplies would be safe to use. Food could be spoiled, water could be contaminated, Med supplies could give you the zombie virus; nothing is really safe! So, inside each box and taped to the outside of each bottle and jug were instructions such as:
- Food has been contaminated. Go to the Med Station and do a task to get well.
- Water has been contaminated. Eat smarties to cure yourself and purify the water.
- While scrounging for food you broke your leg. Use the bandages on one leg and limp for the rest of the game.
- Rats ate all of your food. Discard all your boxes and go get more supplies.
- This box of food was poisoned. The whole team must go to the Med station for a cure.
- Your water is safe!
You can get really creative with these. My volunteer and I had a blast thinking up clever demises for each box. We also made the choice to have single water bottles be the only safe thing in the game. Gallon jugs could water the whole team, but often came with a nasty surprise! In addition, the only safe food boxes were Cheeze-its.
Bags to carry supplies:
You know those bags you get at conferences? This is perfect use for them. Each team got a bag to cart around supplies while they were building their shelter. You could also use paper or plastic bags.
Why my teens are obsessed with Cheeze-its and Sam’s club:
My teens are hilarious and we have lots of food based conversations. Somehow in the midst of discussing survival, Cheeze-its became a viable food source that can partially cure the zombie virus. I blame Dan who is one of my awesome teens who has since graduated and moved on to bigger and better adventures. #dansclubforever
She suggested that Sam’s Club would be the one stop shop for surviving the zombie apocalypse. The reason: Zombies can’t get Sam’s Club cards. At this moment my TAB group invented Dan’s Club (in honor of Dan). It’s also, the only surviving store in the apocalypse. Each team would have to get a Dan’s club card at some point during the game. There would be a Dan’s Club store in one of the rooms where teams could use their card to “buy” supplies. Once at the store, they would have to complete tasks given to them by Dan to get much needed supplies. Tasks included:
- Saying the alphabet backwards
- Patting their heads and rubbing their tummies while standing on one foot
- Doing the YMCA
- Doing the Chicken Dance
Dan decided to walk around in a Dan’s Club box during part of the game passing out Dan’s club Membership cards. Teens would have to brave the zombies and get a card to shop at the standing store. Here is a link to the card she created: (yes the spelling is bad- because spelling is not important during the apocalypse!)
Having a “store” helped. Otherwise we were hiding supplies in the rooms and hoping that teens wouldn’t hoard things. (we were very very wrong) I will explain more in the game play post.
We happened to have a ton of leftover microfilm canisters that were perfect for Med kits. Inside we put a few cloth bandage strips (old t-shirts, sheets, etc..) and a few packages of smarties. One kit was enough for the whole team unless they got a defective kit. We did not tell them what the smarties were for (purifying contaminated water) so this messed up a few teams who ate them immediately! I decorated the outside like this:
You can also use small boxes or paper bags. Some of the kits were empty and some kits had the note that said:
- This kit is contaminated with the Zombie virus. Your whole team now has the virus. Head to the Med Station for cures.
Each team had to build a shelter that would fit everyone on their team. Once it was built they had to get it approved by the Zombie Master (the librarian or one of the other staff). Approved shelters got a giant blue sticker. You could also use small flags or even a brightly colored sheet of paper to show that the shelter is approved.
Collect tons of boxes for this part. The bigger the better. We also used pool noodles, foam computer box inserts, and blankets. We did not give them tape. My teens decided that “there is no tape in the apocalypse.” I personally loved this idea, because otherwise it would be a tape nightmare. This also forces them to be super creative when building.
My teens decided that Nerf guns are evil and would cause nightmares for this event. (I silently cheered because they were totally right). They decided that the following items would be safe for weapons:
- Zombies could be stunned but not killed by using a “weapon”
- To stun a zombie for 10 seconds- hit them with the following items
This worked out really well. We had a few assembled shooters and then hid a few kits around the game area. We also hid the Giant pom poms and socks. All of the items were soft and didn’t hurt when you threw them at other players. Trust me we had a whole meeting devoted to testing this out! If you can’t afford the shooters or the giant pom poms the socks are a super cheap alternative.
Zombies wore a green glow stick necklace. Their job was to tag players using bright green stickers. Zombies had a limited number of stickers for each game. They could only tag players on their back, shoulders, or arms. When they ran out of stickers they just walked around and moaned or knocked over shelters that were still being built.
Med Station & The Cure:
We decided that we needed a med station in the middle of the room. We used three tables and kept med kits and cures at the table. Two volunteers ran this area and I would advise more if you have a large group. When teens got notes from supplies or were tagged by Zombie they headed to the Med Station. At the station, they had to complete tasks to get Med Kits or the cure. My teens thought that the game “Operation” would be perfect as one of the tasks. You had to get 3 pieces out without setting off the buzzer for the cure.
We put the cures in a paper towel tube and covered the ends. The cure consisted of a blue glow-stick bracelet. Once they got the cure they had to activate the bracelet and wear it for the remainder of the game. My teens made a rule that if they got tagged again while wearing the bracelet they immediately became a zombie. This was a bad idea. I will tell you why in the next post. There were only two cures out in the wild for players to find during each round. One only contained a pencil- no cure!
If their supplies had made them sick they had to do other tasks to get better or sit out of the game for 2 minutes.
Have lots of water and cups for your teens. They will get thirsty from running around. We had a water station in a corner and they could stop and get water or take a break if needed. Zombies could not tag anyone or wait for them outside the station. This was the neutral zone!
Break out the Halloween stuff and make your rooms look zombified! My teens decided to skip this part and only made a few posters for Dan’s club. It actually worked well for us and made clean up easier.
This is a lot of prep but totally worth it! We used a ton of recycled supplies and spent only $15! Next up, I will run through game play and include a link to the printouts I created for the game.