Where’s Waldo is a great game for a big event and is a fantastic way to get members of the congregation involved in the youth program without a huge time commitment.
The game is played at the mall. It is probably best suited to a small to medium sized mall (it would be too difficult in a huge one). You will need to recruit volunteers ahead of time (about 10-20 of them) and their only task is to spend the length of time of the game at the mall. They can hide themselves or stay out in the open. It is best to recruit some volunteers that will be easily recognized by the students and some that the students won’t know very well (or at all).
The coordinator of the game will need to assign each volunteer with a character name, and communicate that name to the volunteer. Each character will be assigned a points value based on how likely the students are to find and/or recognize the volunteer. Waldo should be a significantly higher number of points and should either hide him/herself really well or be unknown to the students.
Before the game starts, give the students a sheet with the character names, points, and a space beside each name for a signature. Have them travel in pairs or teams of 3-4 and make sure each team has a watch, so they can be sure to be on time at the meeting spot at the end of the game.
The object of the game is for the students to find the characters and collect signatures. I find it is best to limit the students to one “ask” each time they find a character (i.e. if they find someone, ask “Are you Wanda?” and if it is not Wanda, they can’t just work their way down the list until they guess the correct name – they can’t ask again until they find the character again later in the game).
At the designated end time for the game (usually an hour to two hours is a good length of time, depending on how many volunteers you have), gather the sheets and add up the points. The team with the highest number of points wins.
Note for groups with a high percentage of un-churched or other-churched students: you don’t want the churched kids to have an unfair advantage by being able to recognize the volunteers from your church. One way around this is to have each character carry a prop or wear a particular costume, and then include a hint with each character name on the sheet handed out to the students. They can be cryptic, for increased difficulty (“Wanda is a real athlete!”) or very specific (“Wanda is carrying a tennis racquet!”)