Archive for April, 2014

Paint Mine Field

Posted: April 30, 2014 in Uncategorized
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This is a fun new spin on an old favorite. Partner your youth up and give them a blindfold. Each group will work together to traverse a “minefield” to get to the other side unscathed. One will be blindfolded, the other will direct them verbally (meaning no touchie!) through to the other side. This is the old favorite, and it’s fun.

…but we’re going to amp it up a bit.

instead of balloons or chairs or other “mines”, we’re going to use paper plates full of craft paint, and lots of them. Oh, and we’re going to make it a race. The goal is to reach the other side as clean and quickly as possible. Want the make it even crazier? Place a few large paint-filled balloons around the field, too.

Craft paint doesn’t stain clothes, but it may make it difficult to sit through a lesson throughout the remaining youth time, so maybe you should do this at the end, or as a special event. Outdoors is best. In years past, I have bought paper suits for people to wear, which can be helpful. This game is a crazy mess that is fun and fosters communication and teamwork between partners. As always, when someone is blindfolded, be sure to be extra careful, because for some reason, teens can think it’s okay to run crazily blindfolded. Running is part of this game, but being careful is important. Safety first, mess second. Enjoy!


Noodle Balloon Race

Posted: April 28, 2014 in Uncategorized
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If you don’t have a set of pool noodles yet, get some. There are so many applications, for the low, low price of a dozen noodles, your games will get real awesome, real fast. An example of one such game is this: Noodle Balloon Racing.

I usually do this as a team relay, so all you need is 2 noodles per team and one balloon per team (make a few spares, too, just in case). Divide the team in two and place them on opposite sides of a long space like a gym, fellowship hall, parking lot…whatever you are using. When you say go, the first players will use the noodle to direct a balloon (in air) to the opposite side. If it touches the ground, they have to start over at the beginning. When they reach the other side, the first person in that line has to bring the balloon back in the same fashion. This game is fast, fun and high energy. Some people will resort to poking and prodding at other teams’ balloons while they go, while others will try all sorts of new forms of noodle-balloon techniques. Some things that are helpful – have each team’s balloon be a unique color, for easy tracking. If you are going to try this outside, beware strong winds and frequent pops, have plenty of extras on hand.

This game can also be a one-time free-for-all race, if you have enough noodles and balloons for everyone. I have done this once, and I even set up a basic obstacle course/maze sort of track to have to work through. It was chaos in a great way, though it only lasts for a few minutes and is usually only good for a single round, two at best. Whichever way you plan on doing this, gauge the right amount of time and resources, playing a game too long can ruin it for future uses. This one is great, you’ll enjoy it for sure.

Blind Partner Tag

Posted: April 25, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Looking for a fun, fast-paced game to get your youth riled up AND build some team-work? That’s a tough combo, but look no further…

This game is a short-term battle between two partners, blindfolded and holding hands, and the rest of the group in a circle holding hands around them. The partners’ job is to tag someone within 30 seconds or they have to start over. The group’s job is to avoid them for the same amount of time without breaking hands. The partners are trying to tag the people to take their place, the group is trying to not be those people. You will need an open space, it’s best outdoors.

You can usually play this for a handful of rounds before people start getting tired of it. This is a great game for pictures and to get people amped up for a bigger game or activity. Some variations are the center group isn’t blindfolded, but their feet are tied in a 3-legged race way, lose the time limit, or have there be a Marco/Polo call-response.

Leading the Blind…

Posted: April 25, 2014 in Uncategorized
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This one is an oldie, but I was talking to someone the other day, and they had never heard of it, so here we are. I like to use this activity to lead a group to a prayer session on retreat or into a more serious activity on mission trip. It works well to focus the group and can quickly break down people’s walls. It takes little prep and only some blindfolds, so it’s a cheap and easy team-builder to have in your bag of tricks.

Line up your youth and hand each of them a bandana – except the first person. Each will blindfold themselves, then reach forward and place their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. The first person can see, and is the leader. They will lead the group down a trail or through an obstacle course. Remind the leader to move slowly and to communicate with the rest of the group what they should be doing.

I use this activity to help build group trust in someone I believe to be an emerging leader in the group, or to help build confidence in the leader themselves. Be deliberate on who you place in the front. Sometimes I will choose the person who isn’t connecting with the group yet or needs a push out of their comfort zone. Decide what you want from this activity, and go for it. It’s a worthwhile activity.

Group Lunch

Posted: April 24, 2014 in Uncategorized
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This team-building game is an easy add-on to any retreat or overnight. It’s little prep and low-cost. You will need a bandana per person and a meal to eat. I usually have the teens pack a lunch or if you are in a cafeteria setting, that works too. Ordering pizza is less of a challenge, but in a bind will work fine.

After the group has their lunches out and on the table, tie their hands (both of them) to the person next two them, right to left, and left to right. you should have a circle of bound teens around the table. The challenge is to have them eat their lunch bound together. Taking bites, drinking from cups, cleaning up…it’s all more difficult when you need to work with two other people to do it. The best part is, you already budgeted this time into your schedule for lunch, so it doesn’t take time out of your schedule.

So, tie up those teens and make ’em eat. It’s a fun way to have a meal and build some comradery, too.


This one is a great team building activity for any size group, but especially large groups. It’s no set-up, no prep, and can be a great activity to do on the fly.

Have the group circle up facing outward. You can have them link arms or touch shoulders, but it doesn’t matter, as long as they can’t make eye contact with the wider group. You then challenge the group to count up to 100 out loud. The rules are simple: no one can say 2 numbers in a row, if two people say the same number, you have to start over, and there is no “table talk”, meaning that the only things the group can say are the numbers themselves. This is an interesting and unique team-building activity that will push the group to problem solve in their heads, work together with some out-of-the-box communication and cooperation.

The easiest and fastest solution is the group counts around the circle until they reach 100. This is the most common solution groups come to, and it usually takes between 10-20 minutes, though some groups do it the hard way, which can take much longer. Some variations to make it harder for advanced groups is that you can’t say a number after your neighbor, or you have to alternate boy/girl.


Posted: April 22, 2014 in Uncategorized
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This game was born out of a fallen tree outside our retreat center several years ago. I am always looking for good team-building activities, and this panned out nicely.

I had all of the teens stand on the log in a straight line. From that position, they had to reverse the order of themselves on the log without touching the ground. It was a great no-setup game that forced the youth to work together and in close quarters. It took several tries and different techniques, but they eventually pulled it off. If you try this, a log isn’t necessary; any narrow space will work, as long as it’s close to the ground (for safety reasons) or above water (for awesomeness reasons).

My reason for the post is two fold. First, this was an activity that worked well for me and it might be something you would want to try, if you are in the right circumstances. Second, you don’t need any preset activity for good team-building, just get creative. Look at your surroundings. Find a task that is difficult or strange, and set some rules on how the group must achieve it and go. As long as it is something someone cannot do alone, it will foster teamwork. As long as it is safe, I say give it a go.

New Car Wash Smell

Posted: April 14, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Every summer, we strive for new and exciting service projects to help instill a servant’s heart in a group of teens that like keepin’ it fresh, too. One of the services we have such success with is a Police Car Wash.

We usually do this as part of our VBS: After Hours, a program we run for the teen volunteers of our regular VBS. We contact the local police department and invite them to have their church to have their cruisers washed. It’s a great way to get the teens serving the community, AND having a ton of fun with a car wash, AND pay back the men and women who serve our community and keep us safe. It’s a fun way to build relationships in the community and connect with a group of individuals that don’t always get a “thank you”. Plus, it helps the teens to develop relationships with police officers outside of the initial fear of getting pulled over, which is a great fringe benefit.

You can also do this with the Fire Department, though washing those big trucks in a big job, so make sure you are prepared…and make sure you let the church know, so all the younger kids can come see the fire engines!

Puff Suits

Posted: April 12, 2014 in Uncategorized
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This activity is an amazing relay/team race activity that, with a little prep, can amp up your next overnight, retreat or party. My teens love it, and it usually fills 10-20 minutes, depending on the group size, number of rounds, enthusiasm, etc.

Go to Walmart/K-Mart/Target/Costco/local retail venue? and purchase a few sets of the largest sweat pants and matching sweat shirt you can find. You’ll need at least two, but if you have a large group, you can get more. Then head to the party supply aisle and buy a pack of balloons. You now have all the necessary equipment – simply lay out the sweatsuits and start blowing up balloons. For every suit, you should blow up AT LEAST 25 balloons depending on how large you make them, so maybe have a helper help you, or at the very least to watch to see if you pass out.

After your teams have been formed (4+ is good), have them choose one volunteer to put on the oversized sweatsuit. When you say “Go!”, they are to put as many balloons in their team’s suit. You can have a time limit or until they think they are full or when you run out of balloons, that’s your call. I like to use the amount of balloons as a time limit, so it’s a battle to get more balloons from the other groups, though I specify you can’t remove balloons from another team’s suit. After the time (or balloon supply) has run out, each team counts their in-suit balloons and the team with the most wins.

There are a couple of great variations to make this game even crazier. First, depending on the space, you can fill the balloons with helium first, making it much harder to grab quickly. Another variation is giving different color balloons different point values, so that there is some strategy involved. Another is adding a few dodge balls into the mix, encouraging the teams to target the other teams’ suiters, forcing them to move around or balloons to pop. The last, and possibly my favorite variation, is you can partially (or fully, who am I to limit you?) fill a few balloons with shaving cream, as occasionally balloons pop at all stages of the process, and the shaving cream spatters all over, though this works best in an outdoor or tile floor setting.

Dye It for Dinner

Posted: April 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

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I did this for St. Patrick’s Day, but you can do it for any old occasion. A few drops of food coloring in the water when you make pasta will change the noodles in a very dramatic way! I used an Alfredo sauce with a few more drops, which really made the whole dish come together.

Try this: For your next Spaghetti Dinner night, which is a great fundraiser, make a few pots of spaghetti noodles, each with a different color. You get a rainbow themed dinner and kick it up a level. It’s fun, easy and cheap!