Your mission trip is planned. The forms are in. The parents feel at ease.
(Actually, that last one never happens.)
Somehow you need to get from “here” to “there,” though.
Aside from creating the perfect music playlist for your time in a high-end bus or a barely-held-together-with-duct-tape church van, you may want to think about what you’ll be doing with those teenagers that will be next to you and each other for multiple hours on end.
Whether you have a long drive to the airport, multiple hours of travel after you land or are doing the whole trip on the road (and yes, we’ll be praying for you if you do), you don’t need to wait for any significant bonding to take place.
Here are 10 of the best games/activities to make the most of your time in between “here” and “there.”
Secret Mind-Benders: There are a number of games that fall under this category where a game master (usually an adult) asks a question and others need to figure out what the answer is and WHY that answer is acceptable. For example:
- The Line: You say, “Okay, I draw a line from Mike to the bridge ahead. Is it a good line or a bad line?” or “I draw a line from Sue to our hubcap. Is it a good line or a bad line?” (It’s only ever a “good line” if you say the word “okay” first)
- The Green Glass Door: You say, “I am going through the green glass door and I am bringing _____, but not _______. Does it get through?” (The only items that get through are words with a two of the same letters next to each other, like “noodle” but not “pasta.” You could always create your own secret code to play the game again, such as words that begin with the letters of the person you’re asking the question to)
Build a Text: Sometimes you need a quiet game that still keeps people engaged. Pass around a phone and encourage each student to add three words to a single text message. Start in the back and then have it sent to the front. By the time it reaches the person in the passenger seat who adds the last three words, do a group vote on who that text should be randomly sent to with no explanation. In case of a tie, you get the final vote. Obviously keep it appropriate and be aware of the cost of sending a message based on wherever you are.
This Book Gets Around: Snag a bunch of this best-selling resource to get your students talking with each other. The creativity alone is worth it, but so is the bonding that these intentional questions can nurture.
Lip Sync Battle: Yet again, the importance of your playlist factors in here. Assuming you have some clean songs everyone knows, have the person in your passenger seat be the DJ as you challenge everyone in the van to do their best lip sync (with exaggerated expressions and all) as you switch up the song every 30 seconds or so. You can vote on winners each round and them have them do a final battle in the end for a candy bar or dessert at the next stop.
On the Upside/Downside: Moving clockwise, one person says something that begins with “On the upside…” and the another person replies, “On the downside…” (i.e. “On the upside, my dog caught a squirrel.” and “On the downside, the dog now has rabies.” Then “On the upside, taking the dog to the doctor made the doctor famous.” And “On the downside, it was because the doctor botched up and your dog is dead.”)
Prop it Up: Hand out a bag of random props (or encourage the students to come up with items that they have on them). Tell them that they have to use their prop in some way at the next rest stop as they talk with the cashier at a gas station or improv some dialogue with each other that other patrons can hear. (Obviously, be sensitive to where you’re at – some areas of the country or other cultures may be more open to this than others).
Ping Pong Chit Chat: Fill a bag with ping pong balls and pass it out so everyone gets one (along with a marker to have or share). Ask a crazy question out loud that you invite students to write down a crazy response for, such as “How many boats should (insert celebrity name) own?” or “What is the best name for a dog?” After everyone writes their answer down on a ping pong ball, put them back in the bag, shake it up and then have everyone grab one. They have to then passionately answer the question based on what’s on the ping pong ball along with a reason why their answer is the right one. Repeat it again with a new question but the same ping pong balls, which means on the next turn the person can choose any answer on the ping pong ball to reply back to the current question. It obviously gets fun as the game goes on because the answers start to range all over, as does the intensity of the debate.
Ten Fingers: Everyone holds up ten fingers (except for the driver, who can play on the honor system) and tries to come up with statements of things they either have or haven’t done. For example, “I have never gone skydiving” or “I have two dogs.” If others can’t honestly claim the same thing as that person, then they put their fingers down. The winner is the person who still has at least one finger up at the end of the game.
Whistle While You ___________: Let students know that whenever something happens (i.e. going through a tunnel, driving over a bridge, paying a toll, etc) or at any given moment when you call it out, they have to whistle without stopping in one continuous blow. The winner is the one who lasts the longest – encourage them to hold each other accountable.
Hurray for Hollywood: It’s simple – connect movies and actors together until you get stumped. Start out with one person naming a celebrity, and then the next person naming a movie that person starred in. Then the next person names another actor in that movie, followed by a different movie that actor starred in… and so on. (i.e. Chris Pratt. Guardians of the Galaxy. Zoe Saldana. Star Trek.)
BONUS: I Spy: Um, hello…? How can this not make the list. One person finds something inside or outside the vehicle that can be seen for at least a few minutes and mentions a clue about it (i.e. “I spy with my little eye something (green, small, that begins with the letter ____, etc”)
Any favorites you enjoy?