All Youth

Capture the Otter – Extreme Landmine Edition

Tried this with a group of 15-20. Can probably be adapted by adjusting the number of tennis balls, but can’t imagine it working well with fewer than 9 or more than 30 students.

1 otter (any stuffed animal, or even a sock full of marbles, will do)
5 tennis balls

One student is “it” and stands facing the wall. The rest of the youth are out in the playing area constantly passing the balls and otter around. No student may have more than one item, and you’re not allowed to hold anything.

After a few seconds, “it” yells “Stop! One thousand 1, one thousand 2!” and then turns around to face the group. All the students try to hide what they’re holding so that “it” can’t tell if they have the otter, a ball, or nothing. “It” then begins to guess who has the otter. If he calls the name of a student who has nothing, that student reveals his empty hands, and “it” keeps guessing. If “it” correctly guesses who has the otter, then that student becomes the new “it”. But if “it” guesses a student holding a tennis ball, that student yells “landmine” and all the students with balls turn and throw the balls at “it”. Students with balls cannot run toward “it” – they have to throw form where they are. “It” can duck and weave but cannot run away. Then “it” turns back to the wall and play resumes.

Read more

Taste of Moses

I’m always looking for new ways to introduce a Bible story. One of our most successful to date has been “eating our way through a story.” Here’s how we covered the story of Moses.

Exodus 1:22-2:4 – Pharaoh orders execution of children, so Moses hidden in a basket and floated on the Nile (Weave a basket out of Twizzlers Pull and Peel)

Exodus 2:5-10 – Moses rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised to be a prince of Egypt (Chocolate Coin)

Exodus 2:11-17 – Moses learns his true identity and kills an Egyptian slave driver, forcing him to flee Egypt, he becomes a shepherd (Goat’s Milk – available at most grocery stores)

Exodus 3:1-10 – While tending his sheep God speaks to Moses through a burning bush (Hot Sauce)

Exodus 7:14-17, 8:1-2, 8:16-17, 9:2-4, 9:8-9, 9:18-19, 10:1-4, 10:21-23, 11:1,4-7 – Moses returns to Egypt to free the Israelites, God accomplishes this through the 10 Plagues of Egypt (Dark Chocolate Chips -Bitter and sweet – They suffered with the plagues but had hope of release)

Exodus 14:10-16 – Moses leads the people out of Egypt and to the Red Sea, when trapped by Pharaoh’s army God parts the waters (Red Kool-Aid Koolers)

Exodus 19:7-9, 20:1-17 – Israelites camp in the desert and receive a gift from God of the 10 Commandments (Dinner Rolls – The Israelites called God’s word the bread of life)

Deuteronomy 27:1-3, 34:4 – Moses sees, but never enters the promise land, the land of Milk and Honey (honey)

Read more

Marshmallow Catch

I love marshmallows, and now the kids in our youth group do too. Whenever they see me with a bag, they know it’s going to be fun. For this game, you divide the kids into two teams. Each team has a “thrower” (I pick one at random) who stands with their back to the rest of their team. They get a bag of marshmallows. The rest of their team stands behind a line with a cup in hand.

When I yell go, the “thrower” throws their marshmallows over their head as their teammates try to catch them in their cups. I give them a time limit. ( 2 minutes) When their time is up, the marshmallows are counted. Then the game is repeated for the next team.

You can also have the teams play at the same time…. a little more fun for competitive kids.

Read more

Beat The Guru

Designate someone to be the “Guru” (or master, or superstar, whatever name you like best), personally I think it works best when the Guru is an adult leader. Then take volunteers of challengers who will attempt to “beat the guru” and some minor tasks (stand on one foot the longest, trashketball, catch more popcorns in your mouth, tic tac toe on the marker board, etc). If they can beat the guru in the task, then can win a little treat.

A variation: Beat the Guru: Casino Style
Same game as above, except give each student a cup or baggie of M&M’s or Skittles, and before they challenge the guru, make them make a wager of candies. If they bet 5 candies and they win, they get 5 more. If they lose, they must pay up!

Read more

Hot Seat

This activity is intended to encourage students, primarily from the lips of their peers. Hearing affirmation spoken aloud in the presence of an audience is a powerful thing, and I think teenagers gobble this up because they are starving for it, though they rarely show it. I highly recommend setting an appropriate mood for this activity, as it is meant to have a lasting emotional impact, and cannot afford to be derailed by silliness or selfish humor. This is meant for retreats or camps where a group has been together for at least a day.

With the audience seated, place one chair, the Hot Seat, in front of the group, or on the stage. Then simply explain the concept of the Hot Seat in a similar way to this:

“This is the Hot Seat. Tonight you will all get a chance to sit in this seat. It is the Hot Seat. When one person is in this chair, I want the rest of you to take the opportunity that you have to speak words of kindness and encouragement to the person up front. You can let them know what your friendship has meant, or just affirm something amazing you have seen them do today, but use your words for good, to build them up. Please respect the person in the chair by having only one person speaking at a time. Once three people have had a chance to encourage you in the Hot Seat, please go back to the audience so that someone gets a chance to be in this chair. Remember, this is someone’s chance to hear encouragement from you, so please don’t waste their opportunity by trying to make yourself look funny or cool by what you say. This is for them, so put the person in the chair first. That said, the Hot Seat is all yours.”

After this it just takes a second for a student to go first. When I led this, I sat down and watched 23 students build up one another for about 45 minutes. I didn’t say a word the whole time. It is amazing how you will see a group come together through this, and it makes students realize how much others really think of them (especially those kids who try to remain aloof from the group–they’re loved!)

Read more

Blend Of Questions

Find three volunteers who have strong stomachs–the type who claim they’ll do anything! Next, pick three ‘teammates’ for each of your three volunteers.

Tell them that, as a team, they will have to answer a series of questions. For each wrong answer, the ‘volunteer’ on their team will have to take a chug of a drink. (The teams are not allowed to look up any answers…they can only discuss an answer as a team for about a minute)

Next, using a blender, blend up the items listed below in front of all the students. Tell the students that this is the ‘drink’ that they’ll have to chug for each wrong answer.

The team that takes the least number of ‘chugs’ wins.

Food to blend up:
baby food
chocolate syrup
a can of Soda
frozen veggies

Questions to ask:
– Barack Obama is what number president? (A: 44th)

– What is the capital of the state of California? (A: Sacramento)

– In what European city can you find the Notre Dame cathedral, home of the fictitious Hunchback of Notre Dame? (A: Paris)

– What is the third book of the Bible? (A: Leviticus)

– How many feet are in a mile? (A: 5,280 ft.)

– Ask a question about your specific church
(Ex. What year was our church founded?)

Read more

Project Runway

This is great for a girls’ night or sleepover.

It follows the basic flow of the show Project Runway, you first design an outfit out of random household items (I used garbage bags, aluminum foil and duct tape last time), then you do hair and make-up and finish it off with a runway show and pictures.

You can spice it up to have your own twist and give out prizes for different categories. Last year we gave prizes for best designed outfit and worse make-up.

It was great and the girls had a blast doing it.

Read more

Go Wild

This is a game I made up to play with our youth. This can be played with any age group but the middle school ages and down like to play it best. It is very simple. Just turn on some music and let the kids “Go Wild”.

There are a few rules. 1. No touching any other kids. 2. No jumping on tables. The leader randomly stops the music. Once the music stops everyone must freeze in whatever position they are in. If they move then they are out.

It’s fun to see what positions some kids get stuck in and it’s also fun to start and stop the music a few seconds apart, just to throw them off.

Read more

Trash Can Game – Team Variant

The game is played out just as it is in the Trash Can Game (free-for-all), except that everyone is on one of two teams.

Form a circle around the trash can, then have a leader count everyone off 1-2-1-2-1-2…etc. The goal of each team is to work together to get the other team members to touch the trash can without touching the trash can themselves (though at times self-sacrificing can be worthwhile to take down those difficult opponents). Confusion can set in as people quickly are tagged out and players often ask others which team they are on.

Read more


Very similar to baseball. We use a drumstick for a bat and a ping pong ball for a baseball. You get a point for each base and you must run until you get to home plate or are tagged out. Each team gets five outs. Great for small rooms!

Read more
Next Page »