Mid and Late Adolescents

“D.U.I.” Awareness

During a fellowship activity, we made an unannounced stop at a local vehicle towing garage. While there we looked over up close and personally the selection of vehicles that had been involved in collisions where the driver had been under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The owner of the towing service met us there and shared some of the heartfelt stories of the people and how their lives had been impacted by the bad choice of driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. We later prayed for those people and the owner. The experience was one that neither the advisors nor the youth will ever forget.

A Man Down

Team Building Excercise for leaders or teens.

This activity is designed to help students or leaders appreciate the importance of working as a team.

Synopsis: A student or leader goes and hides while another activity is running. Those participating are told that the person is hurt and requires emergency medical attention (without calling 911!) Teams must treat the person and move them to safety. Discussion afterward focuses on the importance of each team member and their contribution to the team.

Details:

Have the students involved in an active game. Choose one from Egad! their are tons of them! While the game is playing send a student or a leader out discretely. After about ten minutes stop the game and say, “Wait some one is missing!”

At that point instructions are given that the “man down” has a spinal injury and must be moved on a solid object back to the meeting room. The group will fan out and then find the missing person. The activity can be timed, with the instruction that the area is filling with poisonous gas. Another twist can be that members of the team going out to get them have also been given injuries and others have to compensate. If you have a larger group send out more injured people that need to be brought back to the room

Discussion Questions:

1. When did you notice that someone was missing?

2. How did you feel when you were looking for the injured person?

3. What has this experience taught you about team work?

4. How can we improve ourselves as a team?

A time to look at scripture concerning the parts of the body would be good to focus on the meaning of the experience.

Achieving Balance

Achieving balance for teens is complicated, since they are given to extremes. The mature student is the one who understands this balance and learns to walk in it each day. A lesson on balance could begin with a game where students stand on a beam raises slightly above the floor and hold a pillow in one hand. At the word go they try to make the other student lose their balance. A substitute for this can be a clip from an old movie called Karate Kid where Daniel San must balance to defeat his opponents.
The next part of the study would include a topical study of the many balances in the bible. Depending on your time frame, choose any of the following balances that we are to should understand and experience:
– grace and works
– mercy and justice
– love and truth
– faith and reason
– liberty and holiness
– being in the world –not being of the world

After discussing passages that apply to one or more of these balances, have students respond to the question -Where is the balance point between these two options. List them on a chalk board, white board, or type them into your PowerPoint or other presentation program.

Next, have students share areas in their own life where they go to extremes instead of find and achieving balance,

Lastly, have students write out one change that they can make in their life that week which would move them closer to balance in that area of their life.

End the time of reflection in prayer for students to be able to find greater balance in that area of their walk with God.

Acid River

Take the group out in the woods, or anywhere suitable. Make sure you have 3 coffee tin cans that are strong and sturdy as well as two boards roughly 4 feet long and half a feet wide. Set down two ropes about 10 to 12 feet apart. The object is to get everyone on the boards or cans at the same time and then to get everyone off successfully without anyone falling off and touching the ground with their feet – or else they fall in to the imaginary “acid river.” If one person falls off, the whole group has to start over. This activity will build communication skills, leadership skills and fellowship skills.

Amazing Mobsters – Sheriff Variation

This is a lengthy variant, but if you enjoyed the original, trust me it is worth the time to read.
You could add more variants to the game depending on how capable the group is.

The Sheriff Variant
Choose a certain card to represent the town sheriff. Each time that the Town “sleeps,” the facilitator of the game can ask the Sheriff only to raise his/her head. The Sheriff then can ask the facilitator, secretly and silently, if a certain one person is in the mob. The Facilitator answers the sheriff acordingly. (The facilitator knows who the mob members and towns people are because at the begining of the game he asks the mob members to eliminate someone) The facilitator tells the sheriff to put his/her head down, then tells the mob to raise their heads and eliminate someone. The next day, the sheriff tries to tell the towns people his/her findings without being to obvious as to let the mob know that he/she is the sheriff so that the mob won’t eliminate the sheriff next round.

Amazing Mobsters – Variation

I loved the Amazing Mobsters game. Instead of using playing cards maybe we could just write on index cards (for those who frown upon any form of gambling) and instead of calling them mobsters could they be bad guys from the bible? And when they plead their cases could they use scripture? Just a thought.

Amazing Race Challenge

Split the group in teams of two.

First challenge: Wheel Barrow race, The heaviest person on the team had to get in the wheel barrow holding 3 blown up balloons. The other person pushed the wheel barrow around the block. If the balloons burst or got dropped, they had to come back to the beginning and start over with the balloons. Unfortunately, we picked a very windy day so this challenge was hard! The first team around the block got the clue for the next challenge.

Challenge 2: Had to walk about a 5 blocks to the nearest gas station. Flag down someone or call someone (since all teenagers have cell phones) and pump exactly one gallon of gas into somebody’s car. No more, no less. There was a $1 in their envelope when they got the clue. Had to get a receipt. One of our leaders was at the station. When they got done, gave the receipt to the leader and got the next clue.

3rd Race: Calf Pull: Had to walk to an empty field that is about another 1/4 mile, waiting for them is 1 year old calves that have not been with mama for a while. The team had to lead the calf from one point to the next and back. Trust me, the calves didn’t want to follow. This was very funny to watch a bunch of city kids trying to get a calf to follow.. first team done got the next clue for the next challenge.

Pig Dig: Buried in the dirt piggy banks with a clue in them. They had to dig with their hands a pig and open it to get the last clue. The last part: Find the Gift Certificate with the grand prize: It was hidden up high in a tree at the local park where we ended the race. The prize was a hot air balloon ride gift certificate that we lucked out in getting from a member in our church. The kids had a blast and the winners said it was worth the challenges.

Amazing Race: Mission Edition

Based off of the TV show, but with a Service-centered twist.

I try to emphasize to my youth group how important service and volunteerism is, so when I saw their passion for scavenger hunts, I decided to combine the two.

You’ll need adult drivers for each team and lots of colored index cards.

Begin at the church. Divide youth into teams and tell them which color cards they will be looking for. They can only touch cards that correspond to their colors. Any tampering with other teams’ cards is off-limits.

Hand each team a card with a Bible verse on it, e.g. Matthew 3:16, which leads them to the baptismal font. Teams race to locate the verse and reach their destination where they find the card that tells them their next destination. You can tell them outright that they are going to a certain destination, or make it a clue.

The teams drive to their next destination where they either get another clue or have to do a challenge (I do a challenge at every other site). This is where the mission comes in.

For challenges, pick homes of church members who need help around the house, like raking leaves or walking dogs. Our church is in a rural area, so we milk cows or pick cotton. Drive to church members houses and pick up donations for Goodwill, then drop them off. Pick up grocery lists for shut-ins and deliver them. So long as it’s service, it’s a good challenge.

Since the teams may arrive at close to the same time, make sure the challenges are things that they will be able to complete simultaneously. For example, if they’re raking a yard, have the yard evenly divided before they arrive. However, you don’t necessarily have to have even amounts of rakes and bags – that’s part of the bonus of arriving first.

After teams complete challenges, they receive new clues for their next destination and the race continues. The last clue brings them back to the church for a celebration dinner and reward for the team that won.

A nice addition is to give each team a video camera (which they can give to the adults to use when they’re doing their challenges) and you can watch each team’s video during dinner.

Backwards Dinner

This is a great way for a couple of your youth to get to know each other on a more personal basis, as well as their parents, youth leaders, and other willing members of the congregation. The idea is to get together a relatively small group of youth for one evening of the week. The idea works best with 8 or less youth because of carpooling and available space. This activity usually should not take more than 3 hours. What is needed: Willing chaperones that can drive the youth to the designated areas. Willing adult participants, parents or other, that can cook at their home and then invite the youth to join them.
Have the youth meet at the church around dinner time. Including family or friends would work but the idea is to get to know someone new, so keep that in mind when selecting the groups. Once the group is assembled proceed to your first house. Here the host should have dessert prepared for the group. Enjoy eating dessert first and getting to know the hosts and their family as well as each other. Repeat this at seperate houses for each course. The evening can include as many courses as desired, but keep in mind travel time when planning. At each home you can also play board games or use the handy book of questions, whatever works for getting the youth to learn about their new friends in the church.
A nice touch after the fact is to have the youth write thank-you cards to their hosts from the evening. In the past some youth have invited the hosts to their homes to return the favor and introduce their families. By switching the groups and hosts it is a good way to make connections in a large congregation.

Bake-In

Six weeks before Christmas, we started taking orders for our bake sale. We made fudge, Christmas cookies, truffles, peanut butter cookies, and chocolate covered pretzels. We took orders for about three weeks from both our church and neighborhoods. We had a bake-in (a lock-in where we baked all night) the weekend before Christmas. The kids made everything (with a little help from some adults). We then delivered everything the next two days. The cookies and candy turned out great. We made $1500 and are a church of under 200. We set the prices to low. We only charged $2 for a dozen cookies. I would suggest raising the prices and cutting the choices some. It was a great idea that made us a ton of money towards our summer mission trip.

Banana Slurpie

We came up with this idea because our kids love jello games so much. The prep: Make three different color jellos and pour them over banana slices on three different platters. Let the jello firm up and make sure to have the same amount of slices on each tray. You can pick three students or six and have teams of two, and give them each a knee high stocking to put over their head. when the music starts, they must slurp the jello through the stocking to find the bananas and spit the slices into a bowl. The first one to get all their slices off the platter wins! This is a great photo op.

Bases

Overview:

Bases is a fast-paced outdoor game combining elements of ‘Capture the Flag’ (CTF), flag football, and role playing. Bring and drink plenty of water, and take a break between games to rest and collaborate. Please read the clarifying ‘Notes’ after each section for important information and tips.

Objectives for Winning:

Game: a single play-through that is won by destroying the opponent’s Home base.
Match: the combination of a few or several games, depending on the score teams have chosen.

The game is won when one team destroys their opponent’s Home base. A team receives 3 points each time they destroy their opponent’s Home base, 1 point for every opponent Field base they destroy, and 1 point for each Field base they build (even if it is later destroyed). The match is won when a team reaches the score the teams have chosen beforehand. Scores are not added up until the end of each game.

Note: Make the teams as balanced as possible, and readjust if necessary. While playing, the most important things to keep in mind are safety and honesty – both serious injury and dishonesty will ruin any game.

What You’ll Need:

People: At least 5 players per team – there is no maximum limit.

Flag Football Belts and Flags: Each player needs a belt with 2-3 removable flags that match his or her team’s color. If there are extra belts and flags, use them for the Home and Field bases. If not, you’ll need something like colored bandannas or cloth strips.

Space: At an urban, suburban, or rural setting. For safety reasons, decide if boundaries are needed and where.

Note: There are no ‘safe’ zones or areas where players are immune from having their flags stolen. With large fields or large teams, you may want to have phones so you can communicate with each other.

Player Elimination:

When all of a player’s flags are stolen, they have been eliminated, can no longer steal flags, and must ‘Recharge’ to continue playing. To Recharge, they should pick up their flags and return to a team base to put them back on. If a player has lost 1 or more flags, but not all of them, he or she can return to a base to place the flags back on.

Note: The eliminated player is responsible for finding his or her own flags. It is important that players who stole an opponents’ flags do not throw or hide them, but drop them in an obvious place or give them back to their opponent. If a player has had a flag stolen, but still has another, they should keep the unattached flag with them.

Team Bases:

Home Base: 1-3 Home flags are used to mark a team’s Home base (1-2 if the belts have just 2 flags). The the belt with flags is fastened, or just flags, are placed onto something, like a tree, that serves as the team’s Home base and acts as a Recharge location. Both teams should agree on the placement of each other’s Home flags before the match begins.

Field Base: 1-3 Field flags are used to mark a team’s Field bases (1-2 if your belts have just 2 flags). Like the Home base, these serve as Recharge locations. Before the match begins, teams choose specific locations where Field bases can be built. Field bases can only be built at these locations. There may be 1-2 Field base locations near each team’s Home base, and 1-3 somewhere near the middle of the field. We suggest selecting 2-3 total Field base locations for every 10 total players. At the beginning of each game, the base locations near each team’s Home base belong to them, and are marked by the team’s Field flags. The base locations near the middle of the field are neutral, and can be built by either team. Neutral bases need to be obvious or marked with something like a belt without flags. If a base is destroyed, either team can rebuild at the base location.

Note: When deciding what locations to use for bases, make sure they are evenly distributed across the field. Field bases that belong to teams at the beginning of the game do not count towards their game score, only those built during the game. All base flags should always be in plain sight and within reach.

Protecting Bases: To protect their Home and Field bases, a team assigns Defenders to them (see ‘Player Units’ below). A base can have 1 Defender for each of its base flags, meaning teams can assign up to 3 Defenders to a Home or Field base that has 3 base flags (if using belts with just 2 flags, teams can assign up to 2 Defenders to each base).

Destroying Bases: To destroy a base, an opponent player must remove the Home or Field flags. Players cannot remove an opponent base’s flags until all of its Defenders have been eliminated.

Player Units:

1. Attackers: Attackers wear 2 belt flags, with 1 on each side. They focus on eliminating opponents by stealing their flags or destroying their bases. Attackers may begin the game at any of the team’s Home or Field bases.

2. Defenders: Defenders have the most important role in the game. They wear 2 belt flags, with 1 on each side, but their belt is put on backwards. At the beginning of the game, each team base should have at least one Defender. Defenders steal flags, but mostly focus on building, defending, and representing their team’s bases.

Building: To build a base, a Defender places Field flags, or a belt with Field flags, onto a Field base location. Defenders should carry the belt and/or flags in their non-dominant hand. If the Defender is eliminated before building a Field base, he or she must return to the Home base with the Field flags to Recharge.

Defending & Representing:
1. A base’s original Defenders are the only players that can represent that Home or Field base. Once a base is built and its Defenders are assigned, teams cannot add base flags or Defenders to it later in the game.
2. Defenders must stay within about 5 yards of the base. If they leave the 5-yard radius, they become an Attacker, and the base loses a Defender.
3. Defenders must Recharge at a different base when eliminated to continue playing as the base’s Defender. Defenders that Recharge at a different base can return to represent it, if it hasn’t been destroyed. If they Recharge at the base they represent, including Home base, they become an Attacker or other unit. If they’ve lost some but not all of their flags, Defenders can find and replace their stolen flags at the base they are defending.

Note: Defenders can voluntarily leave the base’s 5-yard radius and become extra Attackers, Defenders of a base to be built, or other units. If there is ever any question about a 5-yard radius, use the Defender’s striding pace as a yard. When a Field base has been destroyed, the last Defender eliminated should take the Field flags back to the team’s Home base. For small teams, it’s best that no more than half your players are Defenders.

From the author: If you have any ideas, feedback, or suggestions for this game, or would like the extended rules that include more player units, I would love to hear about it: rustin2@gmail.com.

Bean Activity

This is a pretty serious game that only work with large numbers of people (read: 50+). Everyone takes seven beans from a bucket of beans. Form a circle with all the people. Explain that the game is serious. Pick one person in the circle to start the game. That person (person A) puts their beans in their pocket, and then moves to the inside of the circle. They then face the person next to them (person B), and ask if the person has any medicine for them. If person B says, “Yes,” then they give them one of their beans. Otherwise, person B tells person A, “I have no medicine for you.” Person A then moves on to the next person in the circle (person C).
Once person A moves on to person D, person B follows them, asking person C if they have any medicine. As person A moves on, person B follows, then person C follows. The circle will double back on itself. Once person A reaches the end of the circle (the gap they left when they started) they put all the beans they collected aside, and pull out their seven beans. Those are the only seven that they may give away.
At the beginning of the game, people are more likely to give away beans, so the first people to go around the circle wind up with many beans. But by the end, some people will end up with no beans, because other gave them all away and had none to give them. The game should be quiet except for people asking, “Do you have any medicine for me?” so it may be helpful to have meditative music in the background. I will repeat that this is a serious game, and I have seen grown men crying at the end because they had no beans to give away to people who had none.
Once the game is over and everyone has had a chance to go around the circle, it may be helpful to debrief and talk about why people gave beans, or how it felt to tell someone they had nothing to give. It is even more poignant when the supply of beans is clearly visible, and even overflowing in the middle of the circle. This game asks more questions than it answers, about our generosity, about our arrogance (it’s not our job to save everyone; that’s God’s), about our foolish attempts at wisdom in deciding how to give our beans away. It may be helpful to split into small groups to discuss, or give time for people to deal with what the game meant to them.

Bearing Your Cross

Make a large cross (we used 6×6 beams) that’s about 5×7 or larger. Have youth try to carry it (or get a rope and drag it) individually, then have others join in. It will show the importance of ‘Bearing Your Cross’ with fellow Christians along the way.

Birthday Log

What you need:
A big log

How to play: Everyone stands on the log. When the leader says to be quiet, everyone has to be slient for the rest of the game. Without speaking or getting off the log, everyone has to get in order of their birthdays from January to December. You can use your hands to signal what your birthday is. If someone crouches down, then someone can step over them more easily. When they think they have it all in order they tell the leader.

Broken Yet Beautiful

Supplies Needed:
A Hammer
A large board
A heavy duty plastic baggy
A glass mosaic candle holder
A package of Glass mosaic tiles (at least one for each student)
Tea light candles (At least one for each student)
*I was able to buy a kit that makes two mosaic votive candle holders at a craft store. I then put one of the two together and used the second set of tiles for the illustration.*

I started the lesson right out with reading through the first main scripture passage.

2 Samuel 13:1-20 (Tamar and Amnon)
I had them read through the passage, kinda dividing it up between kids in little pieces and after each kid read theirs, I brought out some key points about what is going on in the passage. I like to try to give the kids an understanding of any contextual stuff that we might not know about as well as trying to get them to put themselves in their positions, asking what their reactions would be, how they would feel, etc. I won’t try to tell you too much about what things to say about the passage but here are just a couple things that I used as key points to the lesson:

Tamar Before the Rape:
Was kind hearted – cared for Amnon in his sickness
Was proper and modest – dressed as the virgin daughters of the king were required with her arms covered
Was beautiful – mentioned right off in the beginning
Was a virgin
Was obedient – Her father told her to take care of her brother and she was obedient to her father’s wishes.

Tamar after the rape:
Was not a virgin
Bared her arms in grief, lost her modesty as an outward sign of what had happened to her.
Her heart was filled with grief, overshadowing any kindness, compassion, obedience that was there before.
She was “desolate” – she lived her life shut away from people from then on because of her shame. This was not something she recovered from.

It was not Tamar’s fault she was raped, she did nothing wrong and yet the rape broke her in so many ways that she didn’t recover from it. This is a picture of how all of us can be. We are broken people because of four things:
1. Other people’s sins against us
2. Our own sins
3. Lies of the Devil (You are ugly, you aren’t smart enough, etc.)
4. Circumstances beyond any human control (losing a loved one in a car crash, etc.)

At this point I gave them all little tea light candles and had them light them and I also gave each of them a glass tile from the kit. Then I turned out all the lights and read the first situation off my list that can cause teens these days to be broken. After I read it I had the first person come up and put their piece of glass inside a heavy duty plastic baggy and hit it with a hammer to break it, then blow their candle out. Then I read another one and had the next person come up. Just continue to do this until everyone has broken their glass and blown their candle out. I actualy had more people than I had items on my list, so I did a couple people at a time a couple times. Just have to play that by ear really. Here is the list I had:

People at school make fun of you.
One of your parents is an acoholic.
Someone abuses you.
No one cared enough to protect you from being abused.
You’ve given yourself away hoping to find love and now you just feel empty inside.
Your dad or mom tells you you’re stupid.
You believe it when they tell you you’re stupid.
You started drinking to dull the pain and now you’re an alcoholic.
You’ve lost someone you love.
You were raped.

These are just ten things I used, I had one more but I can’t recall what it was now, and if you want you can change any of these or add some to them. Just to let you know, the kids weren’t into it at first, they were giggly and not real focused and I thought at first, “man, this isnt going to have an impact, it’s going to flop.” But by the time we got three or four into it, they were really quiet and it was hitting home. So don’t stress if they don’t react the way you expect right away. It’s good to start with the less severe examples and move up as you go through your list.

Once the candles were all blown out and we were through the list I pointed out how before we went through these things the room had been lit up by all our candles, but as we went through the light started to die out with each person. Just like Tamar, our hearts can be covered in darkness because of the things we suffer through. But there was something Tamar missed. Take out the mosaic votive candle holder, light the candle, set it in the middle of the room/table or whatever, then read Isaiah 61 out loud to them. Explain that God can take their mourning and turn it to sadness and that he uses the broken pieces of our life to make something beautiful. Just because a thing is broken, does not mean it is worthless. Also point out that they won’t be the same as they were before they were broken, just like we couldn’t take the broken pieces of glass in the baggy and put them back together just like they were before. But God still sees them as beautiful and has a plan for them. I closed by asking them to find an adult and asking them to pray with us for whatever they recognized has broken them, they could share it if they wanted, if not then we just prayed a general prayer over them and while we were praying I had the song “Hold Me Now” by Jen Knapp playing. And that’s all there is to that lesson.

Just a couple pieces of advice on this, put the baggy on a board so the glass won’t scratch your table up, and you may want to have some small light on in the room too so that you can still read from your list. Maybe a night light or something, we had a little electric candle on the piano which was behind where i was standing so it was perfect.

Build a Picture

Divide large group into teams of 6-8. Provide a small pile of Jenga Blocks or children’s blocks for each team. The first member of the team comes forward for their first word to build for their team to guess. Use the same list of words for all teams but mix them up especially if they can hear each other guessing. Use word objects like window, snowflake, clock, book, car, etc. and have the builder “build” these objects with the blocks. The builder is not allowed to talk. The team that completes the entire word list first wins! Highschoolers really got into this one.

Cafe’ Amore’

Our senior high youth group came up with this meal idea as a way to minister to the seniors of our church.
We themed it around Valentines Day and decorated our fellowship room accordingly. A few adults in the church agreed to prepare the meal, while the teens took care of the rest of the preparations. We had small tables that seated four seniors each, and each teen was the responsible for serving a designated table for the evening. The mood was romantic with soft music from the 40’s and 50’s playing in the background. The teens and leaders were dressed semi-formal.
Our senior youth leader was the MC for the evening, and kept continuity between courses. We sang some old love songs for a nostalgic feel. (Even some of the seniors sang a solo for their partner!) A few question and answer games were played, such as- married the longest, most kids/grandkids etc.
It was a great evening of Christian service for the teens, and the positive comments we received from the seniors who attended made it a very worthwhile and rewarding experience.

Cannons Away

Place two teams on opposite sides of a large field, each with a flat, mid-sized target and a “Shoot From Here” line. The target can either be propped up or laying flat. Give each team a water balloon launcher and a supply of water balloons. Each team is trying to hit the other’s target by launching the water balloons. Have the teams rotate personnel on the launcher with each attempt. Go until the predetermined hit limit is reached.

It is possible to play this with more than two teams, but you have to have enough space to make it challenging for the teams.

Cemetery Scavenger Hunt

Make sure to get permission and notify all the proper authorities in advance of this activity. We used this at least twice with great results. Divide your whole group into smaller groups of 3 – 4 each (mix the “scaredy-cats” with the “bravehearts”), with one adult chaparone per group. In advance of this night-time activity, gather information from a chosen cemetery (such as oldest headstone, youngest/oldest person in the cemetery, most unusual name, name most like your own, most unusual epitaph, someone born on your birthday, etc. Just use your own imagination), and then compile a list of about 25 items to be placed onto paper to be handed out to each participant in each group. Make sure that each person has a good flashlight, a pencil, and wears old clothes. Depending on the size of your group and the size of the cemetery, this activity could easily last at least an hour and a half.

Remember—whatever questions are on the list (and they should all be identical, but listed in different order for each group), the leader or youth director must know all the answers to the questions before the hunt begins. At the end of the pre-determined time limit (stick to it!), bring the whole group back to the starting place (preferably still outside), give them some refreshments, and begin your discussion about death and dying. Many young people have never been to a funeral, a cemetery, have not experienced death in their family, nor do they really relish the idea of talking about these things, but this activity will give an excellent opportunity to talk about this “appointment” called death and how one can prepare for it, in advance of course.