Attention, Youth Pastors, be cautious! You’re entering a treacherous territory if you’re unaware. The younger generation? They’re untamed, and now you must gather them for instruction. Seasoned youth leaders are all too familiar with the exhaustion that ensues. Still, engagement is necessary! So, how can you host great youth group activities in the ministry?
If there’s one thing you understand, it’s the challenge of uniting everyone’s attention. However, you also know the happiness that doing so can bring. That’s why it’s important to choose activities that can captivate the mind and keep young believers engaged. So without further delay, here’s what you need to know about hosting a successful youth group activity.
Youth Group Activities at Summer Camp
Before diving into some fantastic ideas for your youth group at home or the church, hold on a moment. You might want to consider planning something for a summer camp first.
Camps provide a distinctive experience for individuals. Those fortunate enough to have attended a summer camp truly understand it. From the end of one summer to the beginning of the next, they eagerly anticipate the following year. Excitement builds within them as they eagerly await the day they embark on their camp adventure once more. Don’t hesitate to ask them—they’ll tell you straight up. They’re ready to return to the cabins, eager to be surrounded by like-minded peers, and thrilled to reunite with their former counselors.
So, yes, camps undoubtedly deserve a spot on the list of incredibly enjoyable youth group activities. And the best part? There are plenty of them to choose from.
Here are two Christ-centered camps that stand out among the rest due to their stellar reputations:
Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters
Whether you’re considering sending your entire group or just a single individual, it’s crucial to know whom to trust. Snowbird, located in North Carolina, has a rich history of fostering strong counselor relationships. Moreover, its setting is truly remarkable.
Nestled deep in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, the sunsets at Snowbird explode with vibrant colors. They stretch into the late evening, illuminating the gentle slopes and providing the perfect backdrop for their nightly gatherings around mountaintop campfires.
At Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters, they pride themselves on being a camp driven by the gospel. Discipleship is emphasized throughout each of the six camp days. And let’s not forget, it’s also a recreational camp.
They offer an impressive array of activities, including water slides, giant swings, white water rafting, hiking, and much more. It’s worth visiting their website, linked above, to explore the extensive list. You’ll also find information on their doctrine and pricing.
However, Snowbird isn’t your only option. There’s another camp that deserves special attention.
In Texas, something remarkable has been unfolding since 1926. Kannakuk has been catering to thousands of individuals through their camps, which are of such magnitude that they boast a staff of over two thousand. The majority of these staff members are college students who are eager to pour into the youth in various enjoyable ways.
These camps differ from Snowbird in several aspects. While both are centered around the gospel, Kannakuk’s camps extend beyond just six days. They span an impressive four weeks. However, if that duration seems too long, fret not, as they also offer two-week and one-week options. Additionally, Kannakuk even provides a group family camp for interested congregations.
Granted, the camps may come with a hefty price tag. Nevertheless, the sheer number of attendees each year is a testament to their value. On Kannakuk’s website, you can find a comprehensive list of their prices, safety protocols, and programs.
Exploring both Kannakuk and Snowbird might offer valuable insights and ideas for your summer activities. However, what about engaging your youth group at home every week? Games have a remarkable ability to bring everyone together and focus their attention on a shared objective. They serve as an effective segue into the lesson you’ve dedicated time to prepare.
10 Youth Group Activity Games
1. Bible Jeopardy
This game is simple: it’s like Jeopardy but with categories centered around the Bible. If you need assistance crafting the questions, numerous online resources can guide you.
And don’t forget to offer a prize for the winners! (Perhaps just some candy). Check out our in-depth guide on how to play Bible Jeopardy.
2. The Blender Challenge
This game is both gross and thrilling.
Every group has those adventurous kids who are up for anything and readily volunteer. You’ll need them for this game.
To begin, gather a blender.
Next, gather various disgusting food items like mustard, toothpaste, pizza, and whatever else you can think of. Add them to the blender along with a liquid.
Blend it all together. Then, dare someone to drink it. Capture the reactions of the spectators and the brave individual drinking it on camera. If no one dares to drink, well, the youth leaders will have to step up.
The kids will absolutely adore you for it.
Beware of this game, or you’ll end up playing it all night—it’s that enjoyable. You’ll need a deck of cards to begin. Remove all the face cards except for three (adjust if playing with fewer than ten people).
The announcer distributes the cards secretly to everyone. Collect the cards and instruct everyone to close their eyes.
Say, “Mafia, look up.” Give them a few seconds to identify their fellow mafia members. Then say, “Mafia, go to sleep.” After a brief pause, say, “Everyone, wake up.”
Turn off the lights and let everyone disperse, preferably in a location with ample hiding spots. People will become suspicious and even frightened. Ensure absolute silence, even when the mafia pretends to “cut” someone’s neck with a finger.
Once a person lying down (remaining silent) is found, a non-mafia player must touch them and shout, “DEAD BODY!”
Turn on the lights, gather everyone, and make an accusation. The accused person must defend themselves, followed by casting votes. After eliminating the voted person, keep them separated until enough rounds have passed. Only one person can be voted on per round. Choose wisely!
If only the mafia remains in the end, they win. If the townspeople vote out all the mafia members, they win.
4. Secret Identity
Similar to a portable version of twenty questions, this game only allows for yes or no inquiries. Gather in a circle.
Each person secretly writes down the name of a famous person on a small piece of paper. Tape the paper to the back of the person next to you. Then, move around the circle, asking yes or no questions until you can determine who you are!
Teeth is a silly game. No one can reveal their teeth while speaking. If they do, they’re out. Form a circle (as most games seem to happen in circles). Each person selects a different candy. Let’s use Snickers and Payday as examples.
The first player wraps their lips around their teeth, ensuring no white is visible. They will say their candy name (Snickers) twice. The person to their left will repeat it and add their own candy. This continues around the circle until teeth are shown.
Some call this game “Psycho,” but either way, one person becomes the psychiatrist or doctor. They must leave the room.
While the psychiatrist is outside, the remaining group assumes various psychological problems. Choose any problem you can think of (e.g., everyone believes they are Madonna, half of the room thinks the psychiatrist smells, etc.).
The psychiatrist returns to the room.
They will ask individuals yes or no questions until they can deduce the nature of the problem.
7. Four Corners
All you need is a square room and a blindfold. The person in the middle wears the blindfold. They count to ten while everyone else rushes to one of the labeled corners (numbered one through four).
The blindfolded announcer selects a corner to eliminate. They count to ten, and the cycle repeats until everyone is out!
8. Honey, I Love You, Will You Give Me a Smile?
This game is a nostalgic throwback to middle school days, which many of your kids may currently be experiencing. Gather everyone in a circle and choose someone to start with. From there, the rules are simple.
The person in the middle approaches someone and tries to make them smile while asking, “Honey, I love you, will you give me a smile?”
If the person smiles, they become the new person in the middle, and the game continues.
Depending on the number of kids, it might be worth dividing them into multiple groups for this game. Each person chooses a small sign to perform, ensuring everyone has their own sign. It can be as simple as a belly rub or the peace sign.
One person is positioned in the center of the circle with their eyes closed. Someone from the circle initiates the game by performing their sign.
Now, the person in the middle opens their eyes and begins searching for the sign.
The initiator must make their sign and then pass it on by performing someone else’s sign. They must not get caught. The receiver must accept the pass by performing the initiator’s sign followed by their own.
The person in the middle tries to guess who has the sign. If they catch someone before the pass is complete, honesty is required! When caught, the person caught goes to the middle.
10. Crab Soccer
Crab soccer is a mini soccer game where everyone plays in the crab position!
Youth Group Activities and Service Projects
Alongside the weekly games that engage the kids, youth leaders often prepare their own lessons. However, actions can sometimes teach more effectively than words alone.
This approach can be both enjoyable and challenging.
Service projects foster character development and help youth understand empathy through action. They demonstrate compassion in practice rather than mere discussion. Some kids may resist or consider skipping out, but encourage them to participate.
Serving the community benefits both locals and the youth.
It doesn’t have to be something extravagant like building a house together (although that would be rewarding). Simple acts, such as cleaning a yard for the elderly or serving tea to refugees at a soup kitchen, can make a difference. Afterward, provide lunch for the kids.
Check out JustServe for potential projects in your area.
Find activities that genuinely benefit those around you while allowing the youth to bond. Striking this balance is challenging yet essential. You want them to witness the impact on those in need and cultivate Christ-centered friendships.
As a youth leader, consider following up on the service project the next week instead of on the same day. Extending the timeline helps solidify the lessons learned. Remind them of the impact they made, especially if those they served expressed gratitude.
Their service will enhance the group’s integrity in the long run. It fosters deeper relationships, unity in compassion, and overall more enjoyable experiences. Some service projects may be difficult, but they are truly worth your youth group’s time.
Bonfire (Don’t Forget the Food!)
Outdoor activities provide a refreshing change of pace. The vibrant flames dancing against the darkening sky create an energetic atmosphere and uplift spirits. Pair this with outdoor games or simply enjoy roasting brats and marshmallows.
If you’re a youth leader who tells captivating stories, you couldn’t ask for a better setting. Once the kids have tired themselves out and gathered for some food, that’s your cue.
Whether you choose to share a ghost story or a personal testimony is entirely up to you. The ambiance around the fire creates an intimate environment where you can make a genuine impact. Everyone will fondly remember the night as a blend of fun and heartfelt moments.
Just remember, food is crucial. Hungry stomachs can easily distract from your storytelling.
Due to the inherent risks of a large fire, it’s wise to have extra hands on deck. Make sure you have measures in place to extinguish the fire if needed. Enlist the help of additional adults in case the flames become unruly.
Safety should always be the top priority.
After all, just ask Smokey the Bear!
Host an Overnight Lock-in
You have the freedom to design various formats for an overnight lock-in. It can take place at the church or someone’s house with a cool setup.
To create a fun lock-in, craft an itinerary that includes a mix of activities. Start with snacks and a game, followed by a prayer. Then, keep things interesting by alternating between watching a Disney movie and leading a lesson as soon as the credits roll. The goal is to ensure that sleep is avoided!
If the adults find it challenging to stay awake, consider implementing shifts for rest.
The primary focus should be on providing a memorable experience for the kids and having a solid purpose for the lock-in. Strike a balance between enjoyable activities and moments of reflection. Incorporating prayer and Scripture meditation during periods of sleep deprivation can foster spiritual intimacy.
Enhance the atmosphere by including acoustic worship music. This combination has the potential to make it the most remarkable youth night of the entire year.
Explore Off the Beaten Path for Youth Group Activities
Having checked off the previous activities on the list, it’s time to venture beyond your usual surroundings. Treat the kids to an exhilarating game of laser tag or plan field trips to nearby cities. Explore new places together and foster trustworthy friendships.
Alternatively, visit a nature conservation area and marvel at the wonders of creation. If you have access to scenic hiking trails, embark on an adventurous trek with your group. Gather at the mountaintop to pray and enjoy the experience to the fullest!
If you have the opportunity for an extended outing, consider organizing a mission trip. It doesn’t necessarily have to be overseas; you can collaborate with other churches a few hours away. Reach out to your congregation for potential church connections that span a wider area.
All the Fun, and More
The exhaustion you feel from investing yourself in these kids is worthwhile. Every ounce of energy, every moment of your time, it all counts. The impact will become evident one day as you witness these youngsters grow into strong men and women of God.
You’ll realize that you played a part in shaping their journey, and that the Lord placed you there to guide them. So have a blast with them, make the most of every moment, and lead them with the wisdom of the Shepherd.
If you start feeling burnout approaching, don’t fret. Here’s an article to help you recover and find rejuvenation. And if you’re concerned about raising funds for these incredible youth group activities, fear not. DonorWerx offers a fantastic system that can support your cause.
Schedule a Discovery Call today — free of charge — to learn how we can help.