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  • Eric Gallagher

    My Top 8 Youth Ministry Purchases from Amazon

    By Eric Gallagher

    I’ve been an Amazon customer since 2002 when pretty much the only thing that people used it for was to avoid going to the University bookstore and paying full price for college textbooks.  Now Amazon seems to be the first place I look whenever I have need for anything! To start off this new Catholic Youth Ministry Blog I’ve decided that for my first post I would go through the last 16 years of my Amazon orders and share with you the top 8 things I’ve purchased for youth ministry.  Also, please note that if I were to give a true top 8, it would likely include 5-6 books. I’ve decided that I’ll stick to games, resources, supplies, etc. and I’ll devote another post to my favorite books.  So here we go: Please note: these are affiliate links that allow us to receive a portion of any sales made when you purchase these items by clicking through on our site.  This "kickback" goes to support the work of the Catholic Youth Ministry Hub. Games Supplies Poof Soccer Balls We tried out three or four types of balls to use for dodge ball in our gym.  These were by far the best ones we could find. They are soft enough, they last a long time, and more importantly it feels great when you zing that youth with one of them! See it here. Spike Ball An excellent game to have sitting around in a youth room, at camp, etc.  It’s a very common game that most know how to play and it can serve as an excellent ice breaker.  It’s also extremely affordable and is great quality! See it here. Kan Jam This was another well known game that I discovered later on than most.  Similar to Spike Ball (above) this is affordable, it’ll last forever, and most people can just pick it up and play it.   See it here. Board/Party Games Pharisees - The Party Game This is the "Christian" version of the popular youth ministry game "Mafia".   I often tell people it's the perfected version of the game. See it here. Curses Game This is an older game but it’s one of those go-to games that is great for small groups.  In larger groups it’s entertaining enough that observers have no problem just watching! See it here. Exploding Kittens Game I have officially ordered 25 of these from Amazon.  It is an awesome game that can be played in 3-5 minutes and rarely gets old.  It’s another one of those games that observers enjoy watching. It can be expanded to take more players as well. See it here. Other Sleeping Cot I got tired of air mattresses and these have been an excellent replacement for when we need additional beds at camp or on retreat.  They are durable, long lasting, and fairly inexpensive. They aren’t the most comfortable to sleep on but those who have them are usually grateful to have anything! See it here. Pope Francis Bobble Head Definitely the coolest affordable prize that I have bought so far! See it here.     I hope you've enjoyed this list!  If you have other items you'd like to mention, please comment below!
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  • Eric Gallagher

    Ninja Game

    By Eric Gallagher

    You may have seen this game before and not really understood what was going on.  The game is called Ninja.  It is an extremely easy game to figure out and explain but can take a lifetime to master.  Youth Ministers like it simply because they will play and analyze it more than anyone else, ensuring that they could beat any youngster up for the challenge. Here are the instructions: Size of Group:  You can play two people but I would recommend starting with at least four.  If you have more than 20 people, it may be good to split them in to small groups of ten. Goal of the game:  To hit/touch someone else’s hand with your hand.  This eliminates them from the game. Directions:  Have everyone stand in a circle, take a bow (like on the Karate Kid), and strike a pose like a Ninja.  One person will move at a time and you will go in clock-wise motion.  Basically the person whose turn it is will try to touch/hit the hand of another person with their hand with ONE motion.  The person they are trying to attack can make ONE motion to move out of the way.  Both people stay where the end of their motion ends and are frozen until it is either their turn again or they are attacked. How to Win:  You play until one person is left in the game and they are declared the winner. Things to Know: You always go after the person who started to your right at the beginning of the game.  The circle will eventually collapse and people may get out of order.  Always remember who you go after. If someone goes out of turn, have them return to where they were. Can set a rule that your hands must visible (recommended) A role, jump, or spin is considered one motion. Once your youth start to understand the strategy to this game it can become extremely competitive.  It is a great game that most enjoy (especially the volunteers!)
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    • 337 views
  • Eric Gallagher

    Blind Dodgeball

    By Eric Gallagher

    In leading 100’s of games over about 16 years this has been one of the favorites. Materials Needed blindfolds a marked off area (either a square in a gym or made with cones) dodge balls (softer is better) Setup Set up the boundaries.  Have each person find a partner.  One of them will be blindfolded and the other will not.  Place a good number balls scattered around within the boundary.  The blindfolded person will be in the boundary area and their teammate will be on the outside.   To start, no one should be holding any balls and it works well to move the person around a bit so they don’t know exactly where they are at or which way they are facing when the game starts. Game Play When the leader says “GO” the teammates on the outside of the play area will guide their teammates to grab a ball and throw it at the other within in the play area.  When a person gets hit by a ball or goes outside of the boundary, they are out.  Play until only one person is remaining. I found many versions of this on YouTube.  I’ve included a video I found of the version we played below.  
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    • 347 views
  • Eric Gallagher

    A CRAZY Youth Ministry Proposal

    By Eric Gallagher

    A couple of years ago, I spoke with a mom in a local parish who was interested in leading a small discipleship group. She was excited because the parish was encouraging discipleship groups to begin as naturally as possible, so she immediately saw her daughter, her daughter’s friends, and a couple other youth as a great group to lead. This mom asked a friend to lead the group with her, and they began meeting in the fall. About two months into leading the group, the pastor caught wind that this group was having a sleepover at the leader’s house and immediately put an end to it. His reasoning was that according to diocesan policy, sleepovers were not allowed. What bothered me about this situation is that two months prior, the pastor would’ve agreed that there really wasn’t anything wrong with this mother having a sleepover, and to be blunt, it wouldn’t really have been any concern of his. In fact, when talking with him later, he readily admitted this, and we agreed about how frustrating it is that the policy at times can actually inhibit us from just living life as a parish family. Let me propose something a little crazy. What would happen if as a Church, the “program” we offered was not “discipleship groups” but the formation of the discipleship leaders? How would this impact this specific situation, and how would it play out overall with regard to discipleship focused youth ministry? Let me offer a few thoughts. Evangelization would be lived rather than programmed In some ways, this mother didn’t see her “sleepover” as an act of evangelization because she was simply being “mom,” and in simply being “mom” she was living out her call to “go and make more disciples.” We should begin to recognize that this sort of community and intentionality is an evangelizing activity that goes outside the walls of the Church (which is the goal, isn’t it?). The idea of this intentionality being recognized by the parish was attractive to her, but was it really necessary? In this situation, we recognize that by formalizing it, much of the freedoms she would have had before were stripped away. Formalizing a “lived evangelization” increases risk and liability to the parish I’m only looking at this one situation, but in this case, by formalizing this “group” as a parish group, the activities that they could previously have engaged in as a normal part of their life now have increased the liability of the parish, the diocese, etc., which is why they couldn’t have the sleepover. I understand that at the same time, bringing something under the umbrella of the parish will provide protections and assistance that someone like this mother might desire. For example, if she were to take her group on a trip or to a conference, she might appreciate the coverage that a diocese or parish could offer as far as insurance, legal protections, etc. In this specific situation, though, the mother would’ve rather taken on the liability of the sleepover than lose the ability to have the sleepover altogether. Parishes could focus more on formation and less of administration The greatest desire I hear from priests who want to be more pastoral is that they would not have to be so concerned about the administrative aspects of running a parish so that they could be more of a shepherd for their people in the spiritual life. This proposal would be along the same lines. If we focused more of our time on helping others do the work of evangelization (and administration), we would be focusing more on formation, which over time would build a stronger church family. If the discipleship group mentioned above were merely a project or effort of the mother (which is was before it was ever a discipleship group) and the parish “programs” existed to help that mother grow in her ability to lead these young women, the parish wouldn’t have to be so concerned about the details of the group. It would create a culture where parents and adults felt empowered to view their daily life as an opportunity to evangelize and would cling to the parish in order to receive the support and formation they needed to do it well. I’m not proposing that all programs are bad. As indicated earlier, a parish leading a trip or an opportunity when it would be difficult or impossible for a group to do on their own would assist adults like this mom in their mission. I’m also not proposing that we do this simply to reduce the risk of liability to the parish. The mom mentioned above has a heart for the Church and a desire for her daughter and her daughter’s friends to be connected to the Church. I’m proposing that the systems that we have in place in order for that to happen can sometimes do more harm than good. I’m proposing that the programs we offer in our parishes be more focused on forming disciples to “go make disciples” and then send them to do so rather than thinking we also need to coordinate and micromanage the ways in which they do.  
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  • Eric Gallagher

    6 Youth Ministry “Anti-Programs” That Will Enhance Your Current Programming

    By Eric Gallagher

    In my last post, I was rather critical of programs. It’s not really programs that I struggle with but rather the inability of people to think outside of their programs. I struggle with this myself. It’s easy to fall into the falsehood that we will be able to meet all of the needs of the youth within a single or maybe even a few different programs. When I say program, I mean a regularly offered event (youth group, bible study, discipleship group, etc.) that is planned and available to anyone interested. The shift that Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry aims to make is to look first at the needs of the youth instead of setting out to create the perfect program. In fact, the perfect program only exists when these ever-changing needs are understood, and the “program” responds to those needs. “Ever-changing” is the key phrase here. The problem is that often a youth leader’s job description and the direction given to them from their pastor is very program-driven as opposed to expecting the leader to observe the needs in a parish and do whatever it takes to respond to those needs. The reality is that one program will never suffice, especially when the needs of youth are so diverse. I’m not really suggesting that all our programs need to change. The youth group in your parish may be just what many of the youth in your parish need at this point in their life. I’m suggesting that we begin to discover new ways to reach the youth where they are at and create the margin in the structures of our programming that will allow us to point and to direct the youth to all the different – and perhaps previously overlooked or unconsidered – opportunities in the parish. To help explain this a bit, I thought I would share six “anti-programs” that are probably easier to pull off than you thought. These anti-programs actually are programs if viewed through a certain lens. In fact, you may already be doing these things without considering them in this light. Here they are: Coffee I have to start with this one because I believe using it as an example will help my point make the most sense. If you are someone who “goes out for coffee” regularly with a specific person or group of people, “going out for coffee” is a program. You understand that going out for coffee helps you meet a need in the relationship or situation in a way that other things cannot. This example helps make the point that people who really do understand ministry naturally do things outside of programs (like going out for coffee) and do not even think about it. Monthly Dodgeball If a discipleship group wanted to host a monthly dodgeball night in your parish hall or school gym, it might be an excellent, effective program. It’s the type of activity you could invite people to attend if you believed that whatever dodgeball does (builds community, makes competitive, athletic people feel more included, etc.) fills a specific need for ministry in your parish. Temporary Studies I truly believe that “temporary” programs are going to have a strong place in the future of youth ministry. If a group of youth are fired up about something specific at a certain point in their involvement of the parish, why not offer gasoline to fuel the fire? Imagine a young person desiring to grow in prayer and wanting to dive deeply into it with their friends. Why not offer a temporary program, maybe 4-5 sessions, just for that small group of people (although anyone who is interested could be invited) and fuel the flame? Embracing the concept of temporary programs makes addressing any relevant or timely area of formation possible if it can be done/taught over a short period of time. Spiritual Mentorship This is something I have found myself wanting to do more of in my own parish. For those youth desiring to grow deeper in their spiritual life, having someone help them to do it is vital. It’s very difficult to offer what’s needed in this sort of mentorship through any program or even a small group. Having people who are available to assist young people in deepening their life of prayer and discernment is another “program” you can rely upon if needed but is not something that’s necessarily “organized” or even planned but is available as needed. Monthly Adoration & Confessions Setting up a consistent time each month for the youth to gather for a holy hour and confessions has truly been a success in the parishes I have seen try it. It’s not really a program, but again, it’s an organized activity that corresponds to the desires and needs of individual youth. The “After Program” Program Think about the hour after youth group. In my experience, many youth typically look forward to and engage more deeply in what’s available after youth group than youth group itself. Take advantage of this opportunity. With these examples, I have just two final points to make. First, my intent is to help identify ways that youth ministry may already be happening in your parish “outside of programs.” Second, these examples are provided to inspire youth leaders to be more creative in looking at what types of “anti-programs” can exist in your parish. This is not necessarily at the cost of what your current programs already offer, but as a response to needs and desires that cannot be met within those programs. I’d love to hear more ideas of what you might currently be doing or some ideas you have of other “anti-programs” that could be utilized in a parish. 
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Bigger or Better

This is a community youth ministry game where the youth will be going door to door.  It is best to send the kids in groups and have an adult with each group.  It is very simple. Start everyone at the parish with a small item like a rubberband or paper clip.  Give them one hour to run around door-to-door saying that they are playing a game with their youth group and they are wondering if they can trade their item for something bigger or better. When they make a trade, they move on to another house and do it again until their time is up. Keep in mind that the item can be bigger OR better. We have had youth come back with tractor tires, snow blowers, large screen t.v.’s, and a toilet in the past.  This game is truly a gem!

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Bunny Bunny Toki Toki

I was in a meeting this past summer at one of summer missionary training times and heard a crazy game going on outside.  When I walked out and watched them, they were playing this game. Before I even give the instructions, the reason I love this game is because there is so much energy that comes from it. The Motions First I will teach you the motions that are required for the game. Bunny – Make your hand into a duckbill (thumb touching four fingers).  When making this action you will say Bunny four times.  The first two times you will have the duckbill facing your own face.  The second two times you will point the duckbill at another person.  Hoki Toki (means rabbit in Korean) – Wave your arms while saying Toki (four times)  Game Instructions Have everyone stand in a circle (as per 95% of youth ministry games). Explain to them the motions. The game will start with everyone  doing the Koom Cha. One person will start by doing the “Bunny” sign and passing it on to another person, then that person continues by doing it and passing it on the next person. Whenever someone is doing the “Bunny” sign, the two people beside them can try to mess them up by doing the “Toki” sign (see video). Who Wins? You can play it a couple different ways. Whenever someone messes up the bunny action they are out (less fun version) Whenever someone messes up the bunny action they have to run around the circle one time saying “Dink N’ Farkle” repeatedly in rhythm while holding one of their thumbs to their forehead with the rest of their fingers in the air. If the group is really good at it, you can make it harder simply by speeding it up. Video Demo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOFzZhh4Xl0  Enjoy!

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

 

Hula Circle Pass

Found another quick and easy youth ministry game on YouTube.  The directions are very simple.  Find a hula hoop or something like it.  Have a group of youth join hands.  When you say go, they have to pass the hula hoop around the entire circle without letting go. Watch the video for a good example of it!  

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Pin Guard

I am coming to the realization that the game that our youth group played more than anything is not well known by other youth leaders.  Luckily I have a platform to tell the world about it.  So here it is! Pin Guard = Dodge ball With Pins It really is that simple.  If you know how to play dodge ball, Pin Guard is the exact same game except that you can either win by getting everyone on the other team out of the game (like Dodge ball) or by knocking down the all of the other teams pins. We typically played in the gym and would place three pins along the back line of the basketball court, one on each corner and one in the middle. How Do You Play Dodge Ball? I feel sorry for those who may be asking this question (I love Dodge ball).  So I did a little research and found a great quick YouTube video for you to watch here!  

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

 

Banana Pass

This is pretty clever youth ministry icebreaker that I found while searching YouTube for some ideas. Instructions Have two or more teams.  Have them lie down on their backs in a long line (one persons head at the other persons feet).  The person at the front starts with a banana in between their feet and must lift their legs up to pass it on to the next persons feet.  The first team to get the banana all the way back to the end of their line wins! Here's an example I found on YouTube.  

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Throw Down Game

This is a simple icebreaker that I have used several times.  It is great in that it requires people to share about themselves, but in a competitive way. Supplies Needed You will need 20-25 pieces of paper for each person.  I just give everyone one sheet of paper and have them tear it into 20 pieces. How It Works One person will start by saying one fact about themselves.  It should reveal something about their person that others may not have known about them.  The goal is to come up with something that as many people as possible would NOT have in common with them.  For the other people, if they have that thing in common with the person, then they do nothing.  If they do not have it in common with them, then they have to throw a piece of paper in the middle. The goal of the game is to be the last person with paper in your hands. Example One person could start by sharing that they have never broken a bone in their body.  For everyone else, if they have broken a bone in their body, they would throw a piece of paper in the middle.  If they have not broken a bone, they keep their pieces. Suggestions It is best to break them up into small groups so that you go around the circle several times, getting to know each person a bit more.  You should also continue to remind them that it should be something that reveals something about you that the others may not have known.  “I am wearing Red shoes” is boring and obvious.

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Tape Head Game

This game is one of the more funnier games to watch.  It is very simple but is wide open for variations. Supplies Needed Hats (usually simple winter caps are fine) Tape Something Else How the game works Have as many people that you want playing to put on one of the hats.  Then you will cover the hat with tape, sticky side facing out.  On the floor, you will have a lot of small objects (we have used coins or q-tips before).  When the leader says GO, everyone with a taped hat on will move around on the floor trying to get as many objects as they can stuck on their hat.  They can only use their head to do so (no hands). A couple of extras or variations We have had a great time putting the hat over their eyes so they could only move around by the help of their teammates voices. You could place different objects that are worth different values You could place several different objects around the room and call out what they should go for.  After a set amount of time, call out the next item.

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Larry, Curly, & Moe Game

This is a youth ministry game that we started playing about two years ago and is always a great game because it is quick to put together, the supplies are minimal and it is extremely competitive and engaging. The Ideal Setting This game works if you have anywhere from 12-99 people.  Those may seem like random numbers to you, but the trick is that people are in teams of three.  So as long as you have a dividend of three you are good, but the more teams you have to more crazy it gets. Game Set-Up (image below) You will set-up a circle game area using cones, tape, or maybe the center of a basketball court.  Then you will have all of the groups line up outside of the circle and have the three people in each group form a line.  Then you will have random objects (or just small balls) in the middle of the circle. How The Game is Played Each person on each team will be given a name.  The first person is named Larry, the second is Curly, and the third is Moe.  The person leading the game will say one of those three names.  Whichever person has their name called will run around the circle, around all of the other teams, until they get back to their team.  Then they will go under the legs of their two teammates and rush to the center to grab one of the objects in the middle.  There will be less objects in the middle than the number of teams and the teams that do not get an object are out of the game.  You play until you are down to one team. Miscellaneous Stuff Be sure to state that teams can not “back-up” to slow the other teams down. As you get fewer teams, have the spread out evenly across the circle. A good strategy is to have the two members get really close so that is it easier to get through their legs. Usually better if you can have gender separated teams. Have fun and trick people by saying one of the names leisurely instead of shouting it out. Image of play

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Pterodactyl Game

This is fairly new game that has made it’s way into the youth ministry world.  The kids introduced it to me.  It is sure to lighten people up, embarrass some, but most of have a ton of fun. Ideal Number of People 2-20 How It Works To begin, everyone will stand or sit in a circle.  Everyone must make a face where their lips cover their teeth.  If you show your teeth, you are out. One person will start and they are it.  They have the option either say Pterodactyl or make a sound like a Pterodactyl to one of the people on either side of them.  If they say Pterodactyl, the action continues in a similar direction.  If they make the sound, then it reverses the order. Quick example: Person one says “Pterodactyl,” then person two is it, person two says Pterodactyl so person three is it, person three makes the sound of a Pterodactyl so person two is now it again. Who Wins the Game? If you show your teeth you are out and if you act out of turn you are out.  Play until there is one person left. I’m a Youth Minister, I want the advantage… Be very creative and do things out of the ordinary.  Be the loudest and the craziest.  If it seems like there is a constant timing, respond really fast.

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Brain Fry

This is one of the weirdest/craziest youth ministry games that requires no set up, no supplies, and typically 5-20 people. The more people the better I think. Everyone sits in a circle and everyone works as a team to stack as many "layers of chaos" as they can and can handle before your brains are fried. So what is a layer of chaos? One person will be the leader for the group. They will begin and end each layer, keeping track of how the group is doing. Starting the first layer. To begin the first layer, the leader will decide on a topic (we will use foods as an example). They will say a topic and point to another person passing the baton to them with that topic. Then that person points at another person saying their food. It goes around until everyone has went once. The last person will go back to the leader. This will be the standard order for round one. So for the food level you should remember who you receive from and who you pass to. Practice this a couple of times as a group and then you are ready to move on to round two. For round two the leader should pick a different category and a different start person. Go through and practice round two. Ideally, everyone will receive from and pass to a different person than round one. After you have practiced just round two you are ready for the chaos. The leader will begin both rounds so they start again with round one by saying their food to the person who they said it to in round one, once that person receives level one, the leader will pass the level two category to the appropriate person. The group will pass through both levels at the same time. Once the leader has received both levels the group moves on to adding a third level. Typically you will do this until the leader has chosen every person in the circle to start with or until someone’s brain is fried and they just can not do it any longer. Good luck. We have seen groups get up to 14-16 levels at one time. See if you can do more!

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Psychiatrist – Game

Materials Needed – None Size of Group – Could have anywhere from 5 to 50! This is one my favorites to use with new groups or as an icebreaker for large groups.  It is easy to explain, allows for some creativity in the group, and allows kids to chat and bond as a group through it out. Have everyone sit in a circle and have one or two people leave the room.  They will be the psychiatrists.  They must figure diagnose the problem(s) of the group by asking yes or no questions.  Some problems may have several parts and they must figure all of them out. When the psychiatrists leave the room, you must come up with a problem for them to solve.  You, as the leader, can have one or two ready to make it easier or you can have the group decide.  It can be absolutely anything.  The one thing to be cautious of is whether or not it is too difficult for the psychiatrist to figure out.  Once everyone in the group understands what to do, you can have the psychiatrists come back in and try to diagnose the problem. Here are a couple examples that have worked well in the past: Every time the psychiatrist asks a question, everyone either crosses or uncrosses their legs. Anyone who is sitting to the right of a female has a constant itch in their left arm. We have also done chains of events.  Like when the psychiatrist looks at a specific person, that person stands up.  After that person stands up another person claps twice.  After the 2nd person claps twice, everyone shouts ‘WOOO!’

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Ninja Game

You may have seen this game before and not really understood what was going on.  The game is called Ninja.  It is an extremely easy game to figure out and explain but can take a lifetime to master.  Youth Ministers like it simply because they will play and analyze it more than anyone else, ensuring that they could beat any youngster up for the challenge. Here are the instructions: Size of Group:  You can play two people but I would recommend starting with at least four.  If you have more than 20 people, it may be good to split them in to small groups of ten. Goal of the game:  To hit/touch someone else’s hand with your hand.  This eliminates them from the game. Directions:  Have everyone stand in a circle, take a bow (like on the Karate Kid), and strike a pose like a Ninja.  One person will move at a time and you will go in clock-wise motion.  Basically the person whose turn it is will try to touch/hit the hand of another person with their hand with ONE motion.  The person they are trying to attack can make ONE motion to move out of the way.  Both people stay where the end of their motion ends and are frozen until it is either their turn again or they are attacked. How to Win:  You play until one person is left in the game and they are declared the winner. Things to Know: You always go after the person who started to your right at the beginning of the game.  The circle will eventually collapse and people may get out of order.  Always remember who you go after. If someone goes out of turn, have them return to where they were. Can set a rule that your hands must visible (recommended) A role, jump, or spin is considered one motion. Once your youth start to understand the strategy to this game it can become extremely competitive.  It is a great game that most enjoy (especially the volunteers!)

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

 

Lifesaver Pass

This youth ministry game is a favorite and very simple. Buy some lifesavers and toothpicks. All of the youth are given a toothpick and put in to teams with even numbers and each team is given a lifesaver. Have all of the teams stand in a line. When the youth leader says go, the youth will pass the lifesaver to each other using only the toothpick in their mouth. If the lifesaver is dropped, the group must start over from the beginning of the line. The first team to pass it to all of their members without dropping it wins. If teams have more people than another, have some people do it twice to balance it out.

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Coke Relay

We have done tons of different versions of coke relays, but this is definitely the one that has stuck out as the best. This youth group relay is extremely messy but something the youth will definitely remember. Give each group a 6 pack or 12 pack of coke and a pen. Have a pitcher or glass on one end of the room (or parking lot) and have the youth stand on the other end. The youth must shake the can, stab it with a pen, and squirt the coke in to the mouth of another youth. Using only their mouth, each youth must take as much coke over to the other end and spit it in to the pitcher. Only allow one youth to run at a time. The winning team will be either the first to fill the glass or the one with the most coke in their pitchers after a set amount of time. There is obviously a slight danger because of the stabbing with the pen, so watch the age and maturity of the youth you let handle the pen.

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Stack-O-Cups Relay

Supplies Needed – Lots of Plastic Cups. 15-20 of one color per team and one of another color per team. This is a quick and easy youth ministry game that can be used as a relay or if you have a smaller group can be done with everyone against everyone. I actually got this idea from the big show ‘Minute to Win It’ and made it work for our youth group. Give every person/team a stack of 15-20 cups of the same color with the one of a different color showing on the bottom of the stack. The goal is to be the first to take one cup from the top of stack and put it on the bottom and keep doing that until the odd colored cup end up at the bottom again. If you do it relay style have the same number of youth on each team complete it and have the team sit down when they are done. If teams have a different number of people, some people can do it twice to make it fair. Enjoy!

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Bonkers – Best Youth Camp Game Ever!

I have been involved in our Diocesan summer camp now for about 14 years.  As a youth, a volunteer, and now the coordinator of the camp, this is always the favorite. What You Need This game only works with a larger group of people.  We have about 80-100 youth and about 30 counselors.  You could have less (or more), but would need to adjust a few things.  As I explain the game, keep in mind the numbers we had. As far as supplies, your basic supplies would be: Bandanas – 10 of two different colors (we use red and blue) 10 Long Socks Flour Markers Different Colored Yarn Those are the basic supplies, but you will also need supplies for several stations. How The Game Is Played There are several stations that each of the youth must try to complete.  They get a string tied to their wrist every time they complete a station.  We would have 12 stations.  One person at a time can try to complete each station.  Each station can also form a line of up to three people waiting to do the station.  If you have 100 youth this would mean that about 1/2 of the youth are at a station and the other half are trying to find one that is available. While all of that is going on, there are Bonkers (wearing red bandanas) running around trying to hit the youth with a sock filled with flour.  The youth working at the station and the three in line are safe.  Everyone else can be bonked. If you are bonked, the bonker will mark your arm with a marker and you are frozen until a medic (wearing blue bandanas) comes and saves you.  They will turn your mark in to a cross and you will be free to run again. The game is played over a large field, with plenty of room to run around and is played for a set amount of time. You count up points by adding all of the strings up and subtracting the number of bonks. Other Helpful Hints We had about 10 bonkers and about 8 medics each time we played. Bonkers are not allowed to throw the sock at youth while they are running to get them. Make the stations fun but not necessarily easy. If possible have one person running the station and another to tie  string on the the wrists of the youth. Use a permanent marker so it is harder to wash off during the game. Youth are only allowed to complete each station once. What Types of Stations To Use? Here is a list of some ideas for stations that you can use: Spin around a bat 10 times and shoot a finger dart at a rock Drink 2 glasses of water Catholic Apologetics (answer questions about the faith) Count to 100 Balance a glass of water on your head and walk from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ Change in to one set of clothes, run to one end, change in to another set of clothes and run back. Name 5 counselors Talk for 30 seconds without saying the words ‘Like, Umm, or Hmm..’ Tell a joke Carry 10 bats from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ and back all at once without dropping any Blow up a balloon, tie it, and sit on it to pop it. Take a piece of gum and blow a bubble Find a verse in the bible Make a paper airplane and have it land in a certain area (two people) Do the wheel barrel with each other from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ Enjoy!

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

 

Honey If You Love Me

This youth group game is a great icebreaker. It gets kids to move around a bit and definitely brings out personalities a bit.  You need no materials and you can sit or stand. The game is simple. There is one or two people in the middle (depending on the size of the group) and that person must try to get out of the middle. They go up to a person in the circle and say: "HONEY, IF YOU LOVE ME, WILL YOU PLEASE PLEASE SMILE?" The person in the circle will respond: "YES HONEY I LOVE YOU, BUT I JUST CAN’T SMILE. YES HONEY I LOVE YOU BUT I JUST CAN’T SMILE." If the person responding smiles at all they take the place of the person in the middle. If they are able to say the phrase without smiling then the person in the middle must move on to someone else. There is one main rule and that is that the person in middle can not touch the person they are trying to get to smile. Other appropriate actions or accents are allowed. Enjoy!

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

 

Categories

his Catholic youth ministry game is very simple, requires just a little prep, but can be done several times. Materials Needed – Notecards Have everyone site in a circle or in a line.  What you will do is you will have cards pre-made that have a category and one answer to that category on it.  Starting with one person they have to name something from that category in five seconds or less.  There are three ways they can get out: Say something that someone else has said Not be able to come up with something in five seconds or less They say the answer on the card You have one answer on the card because the kids think it’s crazy when the first person gets out.  Play until you are down to one player. Example To Use States in the U.S. Church Staff Member Names Holidays Positions in Football (or any sport) Youth Group Family Member Names Letters in the Alphabet U.S. Presidents Priests in the Diocese or Past Parish Priests Gifts or Fruits of the Holy Spirit Past Youth Group Games Enjoy!

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Pictionary Telephone Tag

Materials Needed – Lots of quarter sheets of scratch paper, pens/markers, chairs (optional) and a few volunteer helpers and printed download (available below). This has been one of my favorite youth group games to play.  It is a quiet game that draws great competition and requires team work.  The game is basically a mix of the three games mentioned in the title. Directions We use chairs that you can straddle while sitting on them.  For ease of explanation I will use 10 youth and 4 volunteers as the example.  You can adjust depending on your numbers.  For 10 youth, I would break the group in to two teams of five.  Have each team sit in a line in the chairs behind each other.  The game requires youth to write invisibly on each other’s back. What will happen is the person in the back will be given a sheet with a number of pictures.  That will person will draw the pictures one at a time on the persons back in front of them.  That person will attempt to draw the same picture on the next person until it makes it’s way to the front.  The front person will have a pen and tons of scratch paper and will attempt to draw the original picture.  They will show each attempt to a volunteer in the front.  The volunteer will check off the pictures one at a time as they are done. Each picture has a number and the volunteer in the front can communicate with the person in the back when each picture is completed.  Otherwise, there is no talking allowed.  The game is played until one team gets all of the pictures checked off. Hint(s) Be very strict with the no talking rule.  In my experience when teams start talking and anyone starts cheating in any way, it can ruin the game pretty quickly.  If the game takes too long (which is possible) then give them an amount of time they have left and the one with the most at the end of the time wins. Lastly, be sure to have plenty of extra scratch paper and pens.  The game moves pretty quick once it gets started. Materials Of course we will not give you instructions to a game like this without providing you with great printable resources to help with it.  The printout includes the sheet with eight pictures for the person in the back and score sheets for the volunteer in the front.   It is sometimes helpful to have the sheet in the back cut up so they can throw away the pictures they have done. I've included two versions of the games so it can be played twice!  The second one is a bit more difficult. Enjoy! Pictionary Tag - Game 2.pdf Pictionary Tag - Game 1.pdf

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Ships & Sailors

This youth group game is great for larger groups and does well in a bigger room or outdoors in the grass.  It is a pretty simple game, and when done with a quick explanation seems to do great!  It is something the youth from retreats and camps that I have been a part in have always remembered and wanted to do again. The game is an elimination game that cuts people out slowly until you are down to one or two people.  The leader will shout a command and everyone will follow that command.  Each time a command is shouted more people will be eliminated based on their speed or in some cases their cooperation in groups.  Will do my best to write the directions out as I you were saying them out loud so you can read word for word when saying them to a large group. Ships – When I say ships, everyone runs to the this side of the room (point to one side of the room).  The last one there is out. Sailors – When I say sailors, everyone runs to the other side of the room.  The last one there is out. Hit The Deck – When I say Hit The Deck, everyone must get down on the ground as low as they can go.  The last one down is out. Man Overboard – When I say Man Overboard, everyone will find a partner.  One person will get on their hands and knees and act as a ship, the other will put one foot on top of them and look out in to the sea.  The last group or anyone who does not find a partner is out. Three Men Rowing – When I shout Three Men Rowing, you will find a group of three.  All three will sit behind each other and row in their boat. The last group or anyone who does not find a team of three is out. Four Men Eating – When I shout Four Men Eating, you will find a group of four.  All four will sit like they are at a table and pretend they are eating a meal.  The last group or anyone who does not find a group of four is out. Five Men Pointing North – When I should Five Men Pointing North, you will find a group of five.  All five will gather close together and point north.  The last group or anyone who does not find a group of five is out. You play down to one person and that person is the winner. Leaders Tip – You will want to do number games to eliminate people so you do not have to worry about the ‘last’ group.  Meaning if you just did Five Men Pointing North and have 20 people left, do something like Three Men Rowing next because there will be an odd man out.  Be sure to keep things moving and act quickly after you eliminate people.  The quicker the games the more fun they are.  When you are down to two people, really use the ships, sailors, or hit the deck to eliminate the last person.  Also the cues ‘ships’ and ‘sailors’  are great transitions in between the other cues.  It splits up groups (alliances) and keep their blood flowing.  You do not have to eliminate someone each time you say ships and sailors, you can just make them run around a bit also and then say one of the other cues. Enjoy!
  Photo by Flavio Gasperini on Unsplash

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

 

Mafia

Mafia is a common game that has been used and known by just about any group I have been around.  It is a great starter game for groups of about 8-15.  If you have more and a lot of time, it works also.  Otherwise you can break in to more than one game.  We mentioned Mafia in our post on the game of Wink and in our top games as part of our starting a youth group from scratch series. Mafia is a killing game, so if you are against that.  Please check out our Wink game instead or you can be creative and change roles/stories in this game.  I will start by telling you how we typically play it, go through some pointers, and some substitutes you can use as well. Rules Start with everyone in a circle, spread out a bit if you can.  You will need a deck of cards and will have ready the following: 1 Ace for every 8 people 1 King 1 Queen 1 Jack (optional) Random numbered cards for the remaining number of people The role of each person will be given to them by the card that they receive.  The roles are assigned as: Ace = Mafia Mafia are the enemy.  It is everyone against the Mafia.  It is the Mafia’s role to try and kill everyone in the town before they are killed. King = Sheriff The Sheriff has a special role of being able to find out if certain people are the Mafia or not.  They can use this information in discussion to put the Mafia to death.  The role is important and should be protected.  They can pick one person each round, finding out if that person is Mafia or not.  They are to help the townspeople find and kill the Mafia. Queen = Medic The Medic has a special role of being able to save one person each round.  They can save themselves and protect their position or they can choose to save someone else if they know they are in harms way.  If the Mafia happens to kill the person that the Medic chooses to save in the same round, that person is saved for that round. Jack = The Village Idiot Again, this position is optional.  The village idiot is simply someone everyone laughs at.  They have no official role and no special privileges during the game. Numbered Card = Townsperson Townspeople are general people that have no other special role than their voting power.  They should strive to protect the valuable assets of the sheriff and medic if possible and work together to defeat the Mafia. The game actually work very easily. There will be one moderator that is not playing the game, but pushing the game along. The moderator will pass out the cards to everyone, giving them their role.  Make sure they do not share their card or role with anyone else.  You can collect the cards or have them put them away. Have everyone go to sleep (close their eyes and put their heads down). Have the Mafia wake up (open eyes and put head up).  The Mafia will choose someone to kill.  If there is more than one Mafia, they must agree on one person.  Once they choose someone, have them go back to sleep. Have the Sheriff wake up.  The Sheriff will point to someone that they would like to know if they are Mafia or not.  The moderator will nod yes or no, letting them know if the person is Mafia or not.  Have the Sheriff go back to sleep. Have the Medic wake up. The Medic will choose someone they would like to save.  They point at someone and the moderator will acknowledge them.  They moderator will not tell them whether or not the person they chose was killed until later.  Have the medic go back to sleep. Have the Village Idiot wake up. When the village idiot wakes up, everyone laughs in their sleep.  Have the village idiot go back to sleep. Now that you have gathered all of the information, the whole town can wake up.  If the person that was killed was saved by the Medic, tell them there was an attempted homicide.  It is up to the moderator if they want people to know who it was on.  If the person was not saved, then they are dead and out of the game.  A good moderator makes up a quick story of how the person was killed by the Mafia. Now is the fun part.  The town must meet (including the Mafia because no one knows who the Mafia is) and decide someone in the town to accuse as the killer and have them killed as well.  So it is a simple process. There is an accusation – Someone accuses one person that they think it is. The accuser says why they think the accused is the Mafia There is a second accusation – No explanation is needed The person who is being accused gives their defense. The town votes.  A majority rules and the person is killed if the majority raise their hand. If the majority does not vote for the accused, then they are safe the rest of that round. Go until someone is put to death or no one gets put to death (hardly ever happens) Then start all over with the townspeople going to sleep. The game is played until all Mafia are dead or the Mafia can no longer be voted out because of numbers. Pointers In my experience it is best to keep the game moving quickly.  Get the routine down and your head and push it along, but still allowing time for discussion.  It is pretty easy to cheat in the game and people who play it a lot tend to get bored and cheat more.  The game is most fun when you have people who know how fun it is to discuss and trick other people and the mind games go crazy. Experiment with numbers of Mafia, Sheriffs, and Medic’s.  Depending on the size of the group, you will find that some numbers work much better than others. For younger youth, those who are killed early in the game can ruin the game.  Pull out the duct tape and tape their mouths shut (don’t do that, I think it would break your Diocesan Safe Environment policies).  Seriously though, find a way to keep them entertained.  At least have an extra adult around to ask them to stop talking if they are giving information away. Substitutes You do not need cards.  You can walk around the circle and pick a mafia, then say you are picking a sheriff and tap someone on the head, etc.  Do not leave this game out because your church budget does not call for a deck of cards! You can play with a ton of people and make it a large game.  Just be sure there is something for those who are killed early to do. The more people you have the more Mafia you can include and have extra Sheriffs and Medics.  You can also choose to kill two people at a time from the town if needed. Make the game your own and have a great time! Enjoy!

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

 

Extreme Four Square

To play this youth ministry game you don’t need a four square and you do not need to be outside.  Grab some painters tape and map out a larger four square area on the floor.  Try to make it about 2-3 times as big as a regular four square and you can make it a rectangle shape (like a gym) if you need to.  Doing so will actually make the game a little more interesting. The game is played just like 4-square except with teams.  Each area should have room to allow about 3-4 people to comfortably move around.  Number the four squares in order and make teams.  You need at least four teams.  If you have more than four teams have the extras line up outside of square number four. Square number one will serve the ball by bouncing it on their side and slapping it to another square.  Whatever square it lands in has to hit it into another square before it bounces a second time.  When someone misses or hit the ball out of bounds, they go to square four and everyone else moves up towards square one.  (square three moves to two, two moves to three, etc.) You can make up your own rules as things comes up such as can teams hit it twice, can you play off the wall, etc. Ask any questions in the comments section below! Enjoy!

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

 

Balloon Shock

Materials Needed Sweatpants and shirt or loose clothing for each group Lots of Balloons Directions Start this youth ministry game by telling each group (typically 3-5 in a group is good) that one person will need to put on the loose clothing over their clothes. When you say go, each group must blow up and put as many balloons in the clothes of the person in the group as they can until you say stop. Be sure put size minimums on the balloons, so that are big enough. When the time is up, tell them that the first person to pop all of their balloons wins. They have two rules. They can not use their hands or the help of anyone else in the room. The trick to this game is acting like the most balloons in the sweats wins and then twisting the game at the end (That’s why we called it balloon SHOCK!) Say go and sit back and watch the hilarious ways that they come up with to pop the balloons.

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

What Is CYMHUB? - Video


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