How to Play Pirate's Treasure

Play pirate's treasure - girl running on lawn
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Pirate's Treasure is a variation on Capture the Flag that uses beanbag "treasure" instead of colorful flags. This game gets kids running, jumping, and throwing as they try to grab all the treasure for their own team. It's easy to learn and play, so it's perfect for any outdoor gathering with a lot of kids. Adults can play too, so try this at a neighborhood block party, school field day, or family reunion.

Each round takes only 15 to 20 minutes to play. That means you can play the game as a tournament or a best-of-three contest too. When you're done, move on to kickball or tag.

What You Need to Play

  • Hula hoops (one for each team; you can play with two or more teams)
  • Beanbags (10 for each team)
  • If you want to really get into character, give players on each team matching sashes, pirate's belts, eye patches, bandannas, or hats.

How to Set up the Game

  1. Set up the playing area. Ideally, you have a large grassy area or wide-open indoor space. Split the playing field into equal parts, one for each team; mark boundaries with cones, chalk, tape, etc. (or set boundaries, like "from here to the garage; from there to the big oak tree"). 
  2. Place a hula hoop in the center of each team's territory, then put 10 beanbags into each hoop. If you're playing on a paved surface, you could use sidewalk chalk instead of hoops; in a gym or carpeted space, use tape to mark off the treasure chest's dimensions.
  3. Players are pirates, hoops are treasure chests, and beanbags are the treasure. 
  4. Divide players into evenly sized teams. You can have two, three, or four, as long as you have enough beanbags to go around!

Rules for Playing

  1. Within each team, players can be plunderers (trying to steal opposing teams' treasure) or protectors (trying to keep their own treasure safe). Neither plunderers or protectors can step inside the hoops.
  2. If a protector nabs a player carrying plundered treasure, the plunderer must drop the treasure and perform a fitness activity (such as five tuck jumps or four swashbuckling arm swings) before returning to the game. In the meantime, the protector can grab the treasure and return it to its chest.
  3. Players can toss beanbags to a teammate to avoid getting tagged. Protectors and plunderers can switch places at any time.
  4. The game ends when one team has captured all of another team's treasure. If you're playing tournament-style or best-of-three, start over. Or you could switch up teams for a second round of the game.

By Catherine Holecko
Catherine Holecko is an experienced freelance writer and editor who specializes in pregnancy, parenting, health and fitness.