Chicken in the Hen House

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I wasn’t sure what I expected when my friend asked me if I wanted to play Chicken in the Hen House, but the game turned out stranger than my wildest dreams. Chicken in the Hen House is the type of ice-breaking activity that attempts to fight the awkwardness of meeting new people by putting them into weird and hilarious situations.

My friend got a group of us together and explained the rules. Our group would be divided into teams of two. One person from each team would join an inner circle, while the remaining teammates form a larger, outer circle. Everyone in the inner circle starts moving clockwise, while the outer circle moves counterclockwise. Whenever my friend called out a formation, I would need to find my teammate as fast as possible and create it. The last team to do so would be eliminated, and the game would continue until only one team remained.


The fun and oddity of the game came in the pre-established formations. For example, if the my friend called out, “tent,” I would break away from my circle and grab my teammate’s hands. Raising them into the air, we’d form a human tent, and tower over the other haphazardly constructed camps. If my friend said the more challenging, “bunk bed,” I would lay on my back and grabs my teammate’s legs. My teammate would perform a sort of hurried push-up above my body, creating a human bunk bed. And we’d laugh in our march towards victory as we showed off our team’s incredible craftsmanship as others struggled to even begin. My friend might even call out the classic, “chicken in the hen house,” and I would create a barn with my body and hands, while my teammate pretended to be a chicken. Wings, clucks, and all. This continued with all sorts of different positions.

From the very first round, I fell in love with the speed of this game. I never stopped to think about how strange everything was. If I wanted to win, and I did, I needed to move fast. There was no chance my tent would be in shambles, while the other teams created a field of perfect tents. It was not an option for our bunk bed’s screws to be loose. We refused to fall apart at the last minute. Swift teamwork was the key to victory.

Even now, years later, stories about playing Chicken in the Hen House get brought up any time we’re all together. It bonded us together in the most impractical, goofy way.

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Adam Haibach