Introduction: Messtival: Very Messy Games

For many years I have been involved in running activities at events and camps for Scouts and Guides, ranging up to mass games for over 600 kids at once. In many cases these have included silly, wet or messy games which always proved very popular with the participants. However, in most cases we had to rein back our ideas somewhat due to consideration of budget, weather (some events were in cold times of the year), washing facilities or capacity, leaving me with a host of ideas not fully implemented.

After discussion with some friends, we decided to run our own messy games day, which we christened 'Messtival'. This means we could take part in the games, and they could be as over the top as we liked. The event has now been running for a few years and has been growing in popularity each time.

I do not make any claim that any of these games are completely original, and thank those people whose ideas I have adapted over the years.

This Instructable will take you through how to run a similar event- there are many ways to change it to suit your needs, but I hope it gets you started. It would be great to hear your ideas in the comments.

I won't reproduce the mess recipes here; please see my other Instructables where I have fully described them.
Gunge Recipe
Slime Recipe

You will find examples of other clean games and obstacle courses at my website These may eventually form a new Instructable. Also on the site you will find loads more info on making mess.

Step 1: Equipment

What you need will vary massively dependent on many factors, so this won't be an exhaustive list, but should give you a good starting point. Details will become clear in the individual sections.

Elephant eggs
Bouncy castle & Blower
Powder Paint
Balloon filler

Old clothes
Large bag/ Duvet cover
Clothes line and pegs

Large paper sheet
Ready mixed Paint
Paper plates

Cake decorating ingredients

Alien Eggs
Paddling pool

Alphabetti Spaghetti
Paddling pool
Foam Letters
Foam strips/ hose pipe

General Kit
Paddling pool
Hoses & fittings
Hose fittings inc splitters
Washing up bowls
Team T-shirts
Spare towels
Barrels/ dustbin
Cleaning cloths/ sponges
Spare Buckets

Step 2: Setup

I will cover details about the individual games on separate pages.

You will first need to choose a location- ideally this will be flat ground and have easy access to showers and water and importantly doesn't matter if it gets too messy. We now use a large garden, but have used a Scout hut grounds in the past.

Prior to the event you will need to pass on some key information to the participants, beyond the usual times and locations. It is worth warning people that they will get very messy- they won’t escape it! As you can see from the photos here, once you have a pool of goo and a group of people, everyone will end up covered. Dependent on the mess used, there is a chance of staining light colours, so it's worth pointing this out too.

For our games we split the participants into two teams, and issue them with a t-shirt in their team colour (a cheap one from the local Primark/ market stall or similar), but you may want to people to bring a coloured top with them. The rest of their clothes are usually best to be based around swim kit so we typically recommend swimsuit/ bikini with shorts or leggings for the girls and shorts/ trunks for the boys along with old footwear- trainers/ sandals etc.

Everyone will also need to make sure they bring a towel, wash-kit and a dry & warm change of clothes for afterwards.

For washing up we typically have a couple of bowls of warm water and a couple of flannels out so that if anyone needs to clean up between games they can do so easily.

In most cases the games are designed to work with two teams and run as relay- they can therefore be easily adapted to suit the number of participants, and indeed cope with people sitting out. Generally they will work with all ages above approx 8 years old without modification, but can be easily adapted for younger ages. The names can obviously be modified to suit any theme you may have for the event or to suit available props, costumes etc.

Setup can take a fair length of time- a typical event such as described here will take 4 people a morning to layout and mix mess.

We usually run finish the day off with a Barbeque, which handily means people also stay around for the clear up!

Step 3: Giant Painting

Giant Painting is a simple idea- teams simply have to create a giant painting of their choice, but using only parts of their body as brushes.

We provide a range of poster paints in a range of colours, and some paper plates that they can be squirted on too to. The painting is then made on a large sheet of paper. For this I was lucky to have the end of a roll of white Tyvek sheeting that could be used, but this could easily be don on an old bed sheet or on lining paper taped together. The size needed depends on the number of people, for our 16 or so people we used an area 3m x 3m which means most of the team can be doing something at the same time.

The winner is judged by an independent person.

Blindfold team members
Pick a theme for the painting

Step 4: Elephant Eggs

I have a bouncy castle which we run a foam machine into. Buried in the foam are loads of 'Elephant Eggs'- so named as the bouncy castle has elephants on it.

The eggs are simply balloons, but filled with painty water. We have sometimes used gunge filled balloons, but filling and tying them is a lot of effort as the gunge makes them slippery and they easily escape. We have also tried using water balloons, but these tend to be more difficult to tie. The filling is done by using a garden pressure sprayer with a custom nozzle, and with powder paint at 3% dilution in the water. We typically fill about 100 balloons.

The participants take it in turn to go into the castle, retrieve a balloon and return to their team. They have a bucket under a plastic garden chair to catch the goo which they have to sit on the balloons to extract. The next team member can only go when the previous 'egg' has burst.

The game continues until all the balloons are used up, with a dipstick used to determine which team has the most goo.

We run the game over a groundsheet to make it easier to collect balloon debris- beware this can get quite slippery!

Use a paddling pool instead of bouncy castle
To make it more difficult, ball pool balls can be also added to the castle to help disguise the balloons.

Step 5: The Chrysalis

In this game a range of clothes are hidden in a very large cloth bag, including a couple of comedy items (tutu, legwarmers etc.).

The bag was made by sewing two 12ft x 9ft dust sheets together- you could use a duvet cover, but it might be a bit small.
To the clothes we add a load of slime- in our case about 50 litres.

Each member of the team takes it in turn to go into the bag and put on one of the items of clothes, inside the bag. They then return to their team.

The game runs until all the clothes have been used up, with points scored for each item of clothing- items such as socks counting individually.

Participants keep the clothes on for remaining games
Clothes are hung on a line and then dipped in gunge instead of using bag.
All the clothes get put on one person

Step 6: Cakerate

The aim of cakerate is really simple- Decorate all of the members in your team's faces like a cake.

For this we have a table with various icing, chocolate spread, sprinkles, syrup, cherries etc, all put into paper bowls. Teams are given about 5 minutes to decorate each others faces, with the winner being the team with the most artistic designs.

An interesting twist is to have a load of small marshmallows kept to one side. Get one or two people to volunteer from each team and the rest of the team have to throw their marshmallows at the volunteers from around 2 metres away. However gets the most marshmallows stuck in a set time is the winner.

Step 7: Alien Eggs

One of my favourites! Using a largish tank that is stable (not easily tipped over), fill it with coloured gunge. In our case we use a paddling pool with 500 litres of gunge in.

Into this tank tip a number of balls- I usually use approx 100. Dependent on the difficulty of the game you can use any ball that will sink, so typically we use marbles, although golf balls work well too. Most of the balls should be one colour (black maybe), but ensure approx 10% are a different colour.

Team members take it in turns to come to the tank and fish out a ball and return to their team. Once they have hold of it they can’t change their mind. We usually run this that the participants have to get into the pool, but for a smaller event with a small tank (central heating tank or similar) they could just lean in.

If the ball is black they get to keep the ball, if it is coloured all of the team’s balls are tipped back into the tank.

The team with the most alien eggs at the end of a preset time is the winner.

Step 8: Alphabetti Spaghetti

Participants take turns to jump into paddling pool with gunge in which foam letters are hidden. Sometimes we supplement the letters with ‘spaghetti’ (foam strips or lengths of hose).

The first team to make up the chosen word wins- in our case we use the word 'Messtival'

This is a good game to play as the last one of the day due to the ensuing mess!

Step 9: Clearing Up

After The Games
Make sure you allow plenty of time for people to relax in the goo- most will relish the opportunity to get covered!

You might want to present the winning team with a memento- in our case we have created the 'Messtival Cup'.

Cleaning up
The gunge will wash off with water relatively easily, but sometimes needs a bit of wiping or scrubbing.

We set up a couple of bowls with hot water and flannels that can be used in between games to wipe faces/ hands etc.

A paddling pool full of water makes a good way of cleaning up the bulk of the mess- again a couple of flannels or similar help this along.

Once the participants have cleaned off the worst of the goo, we then have a shower available. Normally we put an outside shower in place- in our case an old Gardena garden shower attached to the hot water in the house, but we have used a hand shower head that you might attach to a bath as well.

Firstly- bear in mind the clear up can take quite a while! It is therefore best to do it whilst you have help. The gunge washes off easier if it is wet, so best not let it dry out.

The gunge can be disposed of down a normal drain, but it is well worth diluting it with water first so that it flows easily and doesn't block your drains. If left to stand for a few days after use it well generally break down to a watery consistency, which will aid disposal.
As the bulk of the goo is water, it is also possible to tip it out onto a grass or dirt area- you will then be left with powder.

Final Top Tips;
- Warn people beforehand about how messy they'll get
- Enlist some help to set up and clear away
- Have a wash station set up with flannels, warm water and towels
- Don’t get bogged down with rules
- Expect low flying gunge
- Make sure the hose is connected and all the cleaning up equipment is ready before you need it
- Have a camera handy or even better nominate a photographer

Photo Credits
Thanks to the following for providing photos- they remain copyright of their respective owners. Most photos are from 2013, but some are from our 2012 event.
N. Glemas
A. Roberts

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