Games have so much potential to add to the youth group environment and help students be ready to better engage with the message and worship. They are such a great way to include all the students in something ridiculous, break the ice, get some energy out before the message and mix friend groups up so they interact with other people! In my opinion, games are the bomb diggity!
I had very little idea of what made a good game before I got my job as the Junior High Director. Growing up, I was the student that hated playing! Now games are a huge part of my life, I love playing them, and I am slowly learning what makes a great game.
These are the three best things that I have found that I can do to ensure the maximum amount of my students play and enjoy:
1) Make it visually appealing. My biggest wins have been games where the students walk into the gym and KNOW something’s up. (Best games hands down: life-size Angry Birds, Pirates, and Minute to Win It)
2) Keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate with unnecessary rules. My students have Sesame Street attention spans. Yours probably do too! The less rules the better. Get them playing and add rules if you need to. I usually DO but it’s easier if they’re already well on their way to understanding how the game works. Keeping it simple is also awesome for kids who show up a bit late. They can easily get the hang of things and don’t need a huge string of instructions as they come in.
3) Include different skills/abilities. This is the biggest thing! If you create a game that is only for athletic kids, chances are, only the athletic kids will have fun. Have several different challenges within the game that can allow for every student to feel successful in some way.
4) Get your leaders involved! If they get into the game and are willing to laugh at themselves and get sweaty running around, your students will be SO much more enthusiastic! I cannot emphasize the difference it has made to our games when the leaders buy in, and do what it takes to see all their kids engaged in the games. Incredible.
What have you found with your crew? What have your major wins been? I’d love to snag some new ideas from you guys!
Emily Bruins is the Junior High Director at Peace Portal Alliance Church in Surrey, BC. She gets to work alongside Geoff Stewart and it’s pretty awesome (Geoff did not force me to say that)