Big games are the worst! Don’t get me wrong playing games and having fun with students is often the highlight of my week, but finding the right game often feels like eating a box of nails. Every week I would scour through all the different game sites to find something. Something, that would fill the allotted time and didn’t result in ten kids sitting on their phones in the corner. I found my average success rate would be right around .300 and that should impress you.
This grind every week to find compelling games lead me to think differently about how I approach the creative process in this important area of my weekly programing. Two things that changed things for me.
Find a premise you like and create a game around that. A while back I was in a brainstorming meeting with a few other trusted youth workers. We were tasked with making something fun for our annual multi church winter camp for about 300 students. We threw what felt like a million ideas on this white board and nothing was sticking. The ideas were either too far fetched or disgusting (Sidenote: Why did gross games become something youth ministry is known for? A blog for another time I guess).
We kept throwing things out there until someone mentioned frisbees and my mind went straight to the idea of what if we had 1000 frisbees. I erased everything on board and wrote 1000 frisbees. Everyone laughed but then got on board. This was a compelling idea that students would get behind. What is a premise you like? It doesn’t have to be something that requires a big budget. Start your creative process with a fun premise instead of a google search for, “cool youth group games”.
The best games have little to no explanation but everyone knows how to participate.
Follow me here. Have you ever had a game where if a student gets tags they have to keep their left leg attached to the ground and right hand above their head but only when they are on the other teams side? Or, dodge ball rules where if the ball is defected off a student but hits a wall and then is caught by the, “healer” it’s a jail break? After typing both of those sentences I wanted to take a nap.
Now consider your student who has spent the last week drained by the pressures that come with high school and middle school existence. They don’t want complicated games they want simple things that connect them to each other. This last week we played a pool noodle game where there were three teams. If you got hit by someone on the other team you sat down. If you got hit by someone on your team you could stand up. Thats it. 30 minutes of fun that was simple to explain and easy to play.
What is your go to youth group game? What has helped you in finding fun things students will engage in? This area of youth ministry doesn’t have to be torture. You are in youth ministry because you are creative and called. Have fun this week!