So I've got a unique opportunity coming up next week: I'm working at a outdoor skills camp with little to no training! I was hired on the strength of my mad storygameing skills, since the camps have a heavy focus on narrative and invesating the landscape with mythology and meaning. The particular camp I'll be teaching is Welcome to Middle Earth for 8-10 year olds. There's already a built-in general structure where the troop will have a "One ring" that they must hide from "Collum" and "the Orcs" (staff in costume) as a pretext for walking about in the woods and learning to move quietly. The kids will also learn skills from staff in different roles, like Archery from "the Elves" or firebuilding from "Aragorn." But the teacher (moi) has a lot of latitude in how they approach the camp activities and what sort of narrative bent they cast on it.
So among other things I want to do some simple story-building activities with the kids. Probably not a full-on game with lots of rules or components, but at least little improv exercises to get the kids talking and sharing instead of me doing all the blabbering and them fidgeting and heckling. I don't want to use any props more complex than playing cards, unless said props flow naturally from the environment or activities. One idea I have (probably after we've broken the ice with several days of less daunting exercises) is to go someplace in the woods and tell a story round-robin style about some event we imagine took place long ago on that very spot. Connection with the land, right?
So my question is: what storytelling techniques and level of complexity is good for 8 or so preteen kids? What are the strengths to play to, or the pitfalls to avoid? How best to teach or explain activities?
PS Please, I'd like comments from folks with experience trying roleplaying or storytelling activities with kids, in some form or other. I'm not looking for idle speculation; that I got in spades. Thanks!