Dave's Top Ten Games
BIG ROOM GAMES
I host FUSION Youth Ministry in a fairly large sized room. This blessing allows me
to play almost any game I want to ("up front," "small room," "big room," "audience,"
"gross," etc.) The room we use is not a limitation to our gaming at all. The only
limitation we have is our creativity.
We see many different kinds of students at FUSION YM. Some students live for the
games, others "tolerate" them, and some are even afraid of them! Because of this
vast array of preferences, our leadership has been known to manipulate a few of
the great games you can find on Jonathan's website. Although we believe each student
is completely different from every other student we minister to, we also believe
that every student has a desire to participate in our ministry plans.
Given our reality and our belief, here is a list of the TOP 10 games we have found
on Jonathan's site that fits our need. These games can be played over and over again
within the same group of teenagers. They never grow old. Because most of these games
do not require many props, they also travel well (to retreats, to camp, etc.) These
games only require a big space and awesome leadership.
David Smith, St. James UMC, FL
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!
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
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
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)
Note: If you have access to Power Point and a screen, put a picture of each character
on the screen with "who beats who." That way it is easier for the students to choose
who they want to be.
DAVID'S FINAL NOTE:
So, there you have it. My TOP TEN, err ELEVEN games. These games are tried and true
and have worked for me for several years. Most of these games require little skill,
minimal set up, and only a few props. Yet anyone can play them!
Try them. You will find that they will provide literally hours of fun for your
students! And don't worry about trying to bend them to teach biblical truths. These
games are purely for fun! And there is nothing wrong with JUST having fun! Enjoy.