NUMBER ONE: TORPEDO
This game is a gym version of the pool game “Sharks & Minnows.” Using a basketball court or marking your own, you need a large rectangle. Two kids are chosen as the “launchers” while the rest of the group (anywhere from 15 to 50 kids works fine) lines up outside one of the short sides of the rectangle. The launchers stand on either of the long sides of the rectangle, armed with dodgeballs or something similar. A leader or youth is the caller. The caller shouts “TORPEDO!” and the kids start to run as fast as they can to get past the line on the other side, where they are safe. While they are running, the launchers try to hit as many people as possible with their dodgeballs, while staying behind their own lines. They usually can only get one good throw in, since they can’t cross the line. Any runner who gets hit must sit down exactly where they are. They are now land mines.
Now it gets interesting. Each time the kids torpedo across the room, there are more and more land mines to hit them. The youth on the floor can try to touch the runners—they just need to act like their butt is cemented on the floor (remove any people doing the butt slide). Anyone touched must sit down too. Eventually you get down to two lonely runners, and finally, one winner.
Notes: This game is great for two reasons. First, you get to throw balls at teenagers! Secondly, it is fast paced, requires little skill on the part of the contestants, and is extremely fun!
NUMBER TWO: CRISS CROSS (CRASH!)
Divide into 4, equal-numbered teams. Send each team into a corner of your room. The object of the game is to see which team can get to the opposite (diagonal) corner of the room the fastest using the designated method that the leader calls out. If the leader calls out “hopping,” the teams must hop to the opposite corner. This will create quite a “bottleneck” or “traffic jam” in the middle each time. Keep score of which team wins each crossing. First team to 5 wins.
Good Crossing Methods:
Wheel barrel (one person holding a partner’s legs while they walk on hands)
Backwards Walk (but tell them to look backwards)
Notes: Please, please, please put your 285 pound offensive linemen on the SAME team as the freshmen girls. Trust me!
NUMBER THREE: DEFEND YOUR SOCKS
Somehow, mark a circle on the floor of your meeting room. A brightly colored tape works great…even a ring of leaders holding hands will do the job. Students take off ONLY their shoes, keeping their socks on, and get on the floor inside the marked circle. When the leader says GO, every student attempts to take off the socks of every other student in the circle. The last person with at least one sock on, wins! Very simple.
Notes: I minister in Florida. Most kids don’t even wear socks during the summer/warmer months. If you are in a similar situation, you might only want to try this game during the winter/colder months when students are more apt to be dressed to play this game. Regardless, whenever you play this game, bring a few pair of clean socks from home to give to students who want to play, but did not wear socks to youth group that night.
NUMBER FOUR: PROTECT THE PRESIDENT
For this game you need a volleyball-sized Nerf ball. Have your students stand in a wide circle with two people in the middle.
One person in the middle is the President, the other is the Bodyguard. The people comprising the circle have the Nerf ball, and throw it at the President. The bodyguard may do anything to block the ball with his body: jump, squat, dive, etc. The ball may NEVER touch the President. If the ball touches the President at any time, the person who threw the ball (or the last person to touch it) then becomes the Bodyguard, the Bodyguard becomes the President, and the President goes back into the circle.
What makes this exciting is that from the moment the President is hit, the new President is vulnerable because the transition is instantaneous. The new bodyguard must be fast at getting into the circle to defend him or her. This sometimes makes presidential turnover pretty quick, but it’s exciting.
This game is EXHAUSTING, especially if the people in the middle are good. Be ready to sweat if you play. One strategy for the “shooters” is to pass the ball around the circle and keep it moving to wear the people in the middle down. They’ll eventually tire and the President will get hit. As the kids get more experience at the game, they will develop strategies and tactics, and will thoroughly enjoy themselves.
Notes: This game is great fun with one ball. After a few minutes of play, try two balls. In any event, have a couple of balls on standby because the balls are thrown all over the room. Having a couple of balls helps the game keep its pace.
NUMBER FIVE: TRASHCAN BASKETBALL
Divide into two teams. This game is basically basketball, with each team having one of its players as the “basket.”
Use a trashcan about the same size as your ball. Have each team choose a trash can holder (rotate regularly, its a fun place to be). Have each one stand up on a chair at each end of the room (they can’t move from the chair or grab a ball- just move the trash can). Make a boundary of about 10 feet around each holder with tape. Anyone caught inside the tape must sit there indefinitely (at your discretion).
For large groups, add an extra ball or two. Players can only take 3 steps when they have the ball, so more are involved.
This is a fun game because, with the help of the can holder, almost anyone can make a full court shot. We usually pit the boys against the girls and really hype up the fact that the girls historically have won the trashcan basketball games. At tip off, we spring the surprise on the boys that they must play from their knees, and girls are allowed to tackle the boys at their discretion.
Note: It is best to have a referee in the middle of the action, ensuring each of your personalized rules gets enforced.
NUMBER SIX: PULL APART
This game can be played in almost any setting, but we have found the floor of a big room to be best. Simply tape off a square in the middle of the floor and have every guy get inside of it and lay on the floor. Then they interlock arms and legs as best they can.
The girls are standing outside the circle. When the leader says GO, the girls run into the circle and try and pull the guys apart. They can tickle, they can work in tag-team fashion, they can do almost anything to break the guys apart and then drag them out of the circle.
Depending on how many boys and girls you have, vary the number of minutes you give the girls to accomplish this feat. (Usually about 4 minutes is enough.)
Note: For obvious reasons DO NOT reverse the roles of boys and girls in this game. Only allow the girls to be doing the pulling!
NUMBER SEVEN: MUGGER HUGGER
Warning! This could be a potentially dangerous game for your leaders. You better trust them… or have THEM sign a waiver form…
Before the event, take stupid, close-up pics of every leader who is able to participate. Have them make a silly face, a scared face, anything atypical. When it comes time for the game, one by one, the leaders’ faces are posted on the screens. (Power Point Format works just fine for this.) That leader then tries to evade a group of students who are in pursuit of them. Basically, what you get is leaders running around the room being chased by mobs of kids. The leader is effectively caught when he/she is totally surrounded by at least 10 kids. Then you continue to the next victim, I mean leader.
Here’s the specifics: All of the students are sitting on the floor, or in chairs, it does not matter. Then, one by one, a picture of a staffer will pop up on the screen. That staffer will then run from wherever he/she is in the room…all over the room. He can run down the aisles, around the chairs, across the stage, it does not matter. He is simply trying to avoid being caught and “brutally” hugged. It’s great fun watching a staff leader running around the room with a mob of students chasing him.
As soon as that leader is caught and hugged, the slide show people can advance the presentation to the next leader. It works best to have the next leader’s face pop up on the screen as soon as the previous leader has been mugger hugged.
Note: Make sure there are as few trip hazards on the floor as possible.
NUMBER EIGHT: HUMAN TIC TAC TOE
Quickly form two EQUAL-NUMBERED teams and put them into two, single-file lines. Have a leader assign each student a number (1 – however long the line is. Yes, just like “Steal the Bacon.”)
In the middle of the room, arrange 9 chairs in the shape of a Tic Tac Toe board (3 X 3).
The game begins when the leader shouts out a number. The two students who have that number then race to whatever position they choose. The quickest listener usually has the upper hand.
A student cannot sit on a chair that already has another player in it.
The game ends when one team has three players in a row, just like the regular game.
NUMBER NINE: MARSHMALLOW BASEBALL
You have a room full of students and everyone wants to play. What do you do? Try Marshmallow Baseball.
Simply choose 4-5 students from the crowd and get them up front. Arrange 3 bases around the room in the shape of a diamond. Explain to the crowd that it is THEM versus the 4-5 students on stage.
A leader hands the first student a plastic bat (the “fat bat” ones work best as they are easy to hit with). The leader then pitches a big marshmallow to him/her. Baseball rules apply (fouls, strikes, etc). If the student gets a hit, the crowd members are to chase down the marshmallow and throw it at the batter/runner. The second batter then attempts to drive home the runner or him/herself. All the “batting” students have to do is score one student in (home) before getting three outs.
If you have a back wall that is 40 feet from home plate, use that as a homerun. This game is GREAT in a balcony equipped sanctuary. Homers are in the upper decks! Have a simple prize for the “batting” team in case they win (hats of the local baseball team, Big League Chew, etc.)
NUMBER TEN: WAR
This one is simple and so much fun. All you need is a large box of those McDonald’s playground, plastic balls (at least 200 of them!)
Split the room in half and pre-arrange some “cover” positions (couches, chairs, pulpits, really brave leaders…)
Send one half of the students to one side of the room and the other half to the other side. When a leader/referee says go, students begin throwing balls at the opposing team. When a student is hit, from enemy OR friendly fire, he/she is out and must leave the “field.” Two variations include: (1) last man (like dodgeball… whoever doesn’t get hit is still standing) and (2) capture the flag (if you play several rounds of this game, it’s fun to play “capture the flag” format for the last round. You play it just like the other rounds, but with the added challenge of trying to get a flag from the other person’s side of the court without being hit by a ball. You can create a 10 foot safety area around the flag if you wish—or use a basketball court key.)
Note: This is a great game to video tape for your Youth Ministry promo video. Also, have some leaders walking around ensuring that “hit” students leave the field.
NUMBER ELEVEN: APE, MAN, GIRL
(Ok, so there are eleven! Big deal! You get an extra free one!)
This is a variation of the Paper-Rock-Scissors game. Have students pair off. When the leader counts to three, each student strikes a pose like an ape, or a man, or a girl. Be sure to demonstrate what each looks like ahead of time. (For instance, the “Ape” scratches its underarm and makes an oohh – oohh sound. The “Man” pounds his chest and lets out a Tarzan yelp. The “Girl” strikes a Madonna pose and says Puuulease.) The dumber and funnier the poses and verbiage, the better! The ape beats the girl, man beats the ape, the girl gets the man. Eliminate the losers and pair the winners until you get a champion.
This game can be played with many characters. For instance, you can call this game…
1. Ninja, Cowboy, Middle School Drama Queen (with matching silly poses/verbiage)
2. Spider Man, Superman, Wonder Woman (with matching silly poses/verbiage)
3. Sumo Wrestler, Napoleon Dynamite, Wolverine (with matching silly poses/verbiage)