I grew up steeped in youth ministry culture then did youth ministry for about five years in my early and mid twenties. Back in my day we got away with crazy stuff. I don’t think I’m all that old, but when I look back at some of the games we played (or that I ran) all I can see are lawsuits and all I can hear are enraged parents. Here are the top youth group games I participated in that might get a youth pastor fired today. Or maybe they’re suggestions for some of you brave souls.
The Funnel Trick
Doesn’t everyone love a good public shaming? This simple game is more of a gag on one unsuspecting sucker. Several contestants are selected and asked to stand in front of the group. They each are given a funnel and a quarter. They tuck the funnel into the front of their pants and the goal is to balance the quarter on their forehead and tip it into the funnel as many times as possible in 30 seconds. The trick is that one contestant is not a contestant but a victim . . . of a large glass of ice water poured down the funnel. Everyone gets a good chuckle at the expense of the guy who looks like he peed on himself.
Dodgeball – With Volleyballs
Churches and Christian camps are notoriously low budget organizations, so replacing the nice, soft, safe dodge balls is simply out of the question. Instead, why not use volleyballs? Who cares that they fit more in the projectile/ordinance category? It sure looks like those high school boys are having fun! I hope the girls chatting in the corner have good reflexes because the occasional bloody nose and black eye are part of the game.
Two teams, two goals, one ball and any playing surface, although grass or snow are ideal. This game has one objective: put the ball in the goal. The goal might be an actual goal, a garbage can, a chair, or a tree. Other rules? Try not to kill each other. Beyond that it’s simply chaos. (Get it?) My youth group produced more SportsCenter-worthy collisions in this game than Kam Chancellor has generated in his career.
An age-old classic: “Red Rover, Red Rover, have that tiny kid come over. So we can mercilessly clothesline him!” Of course since every coin has two sides there’s always “Red Rover, Red Rover, have . . . NO NO, not the huge guy come over!” The lesser-known name for this game is “Pop Goes The Shoulder.”
Let’s get in the Way Back Machine and remember a time when you could stroll around airports and all you needed to do was pass through a metal detector – no ticket, no explanation, just no bombs. Now imagine a dozen youth leaders disguised as businessmen, hippies, musicians, janitors, hoboes, valley girls and all sorts of other characters. Then think of two vans full of students piling out in short-term parking, grabbing a list of the leaders, and fanning out across the airport to search. I mean, what could be wrong with unsupervised adolescents searching for a bunch of dubiously disguised weirdos in a terrorism hub?
Strobe Light Pillow Fight
This sounds like a giggle fest. It would be more accurate if your replaced “giggle” with “concussion.” We started by packing our pillows into the ends of the pillowcase to make what amounted to a slightly padded mace. Then we turned the lights out because getting hit with a mace you never see coming is AWESOME. And when we added the strobe light in it became stop-motion goose feather carnage.
Tunnel of Fun
The last leg of an epic relay race and the culminating event of a week’s worth of competition of summer camp, everything rode on contestants’ performance in this, um, unsavory challenge. Picture a couple dozen wardrobe boxes connected on the ground into an open loop or an S-curve. In the top of the boxes are cut several holes. Early in the morning, before the race, leaders dump mayonnaise, pudding, sour kraut, peanut butter, baked beans, and vegetable oil by the gallon through the holes to coat the tunnel. It warms nicely (which means “rancidly”) as the morning turns into sunny afternoon. Here come the contestants, racing, crawling into one end of the tunnel. As they pass under the holes more leaders douse them with all varieties of condiments. As they emerge, more vomitous swamp creature than human, they are hit in the face with a cup of flour. There ain’t no such thing as an easy win at summer camp, kids.
Cinammon/Gallon/Saltine Challenge and Chubby Bunny
The rules: contestants have one minute to eat a mouth full of cinnamon or saltines (longer for a gallon of milk). Contestants must stuff marshmallows in their mouths one at a time saying the phrase “Chubby Bunny” with enunciation and projection between each one.
The objective: don’t make us call the ambulance, and please go outside to puke. Our job as youth leaders is to nurture your everlasting souls and send you to Jesus just as soon as we can.
It’s just like the Steal the Bacon, but full contact, at least four teams, and with piles of various fruit. Small fruit (kiwis, bananas, apples, etc.) is worth 1 point and medium fruit (cantaloupe, honey dew, etc.) is worth three. But the mother of them all is the single watermelon, worth ten points. You have no idea how vicious 72 pound freshman girls can be until you call their numbers and they begin suplexing each other for ten points.
Church kids, what were the craziest games you played in youth group?
Photos courtesy of Youth Pastor Memes.