The Cup Game


Alex: “The game itself is easy; two or more people sit around eachother, each with a plastic solo cup in front of them (DON’T use glass cups). The players then proceed to simultaneously perform a series of claps and cup flips, (I have no idea how to describe exactly what you do in words) with this motion ending in passing your cup to the player on the right. After each pass, the tempo of the game increases, until the player eventually messes up the cup flipping pattern, gets angry and throws their cup in frustration. The winner of the game is the person that can go the longest without messing the pattern up.”

Me: “So what does it mean to you?”

Alex: “I played this game for the first time on Search 1 (11/22/2008). I was taught it by Stephanie, during our first long break, in that little cafeteria room. I from there proceeded to pretend I knew what I was doing and challenge everybody in sight. This gives the game added significance to me because whenever I think of it I associate it with that time and place. Playing it makes me remember Search and everyone that was on it with us. When playing with non-search people, it’s not the same because I feel they do not appreciate it as much as I do. As with the Search in general, it’s just one of those things that outsiders can’t really understand without being there.”

The Cup Game is a tradition on religious retreats, like SEARCH, which are aimed at religious youth. Part of the experience of a Search retreat is the lack of traditional entertainment, like TV, cell phones, and computers, meant to encourage the candidates (those teens experiencing the retreat for the first time) to socialize with each other. The plastic Cup Game has evolved and been passed around groups of high school students, because those cups were some of the only materials available. The game is a bonding experience that a lot of candidates enjoy, because it’s competitive and fun.