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
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’
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.
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
Positions in Football (or any sport)
Youth Group Family Member Names
Letters in the Alphabet
Priests in the Diocese or Past Parish Priests
Gifts or Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Past Youth Group Games
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pictionary Tag - Game 2.pdf
Pictionary Tag - Game 1.pdf
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.
Photo by Flavio Gasperini on Unsplash
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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!
Sweatpants and shirt or loose clothing for each group
Lots of Balloons
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.
This youth ministry game is probably the one game that has never gotten old at our youth group. It is a great easy quick game that can be thrown in just about anywhere to get kids moving. It is one of the only games I have found where kids do not hesitate to hit people they don’t even know with a pool noodle.
Have everyone make a big circle with chairs. In the middle of the circle have a garbage can or bucket. One person starts in the middle with a pool noodle (or half of one if it is too big).
The person in the middle will hit someone sitting with the pool noodle (no face shots). Then they will run and put the noodle in the garbage can and try to get in to the seat of the person they hit before the person who was hit grabs the noodle from the garbage can and hits them (try saying that ten times fast).
If they person in the middle makes it to the chair before they are hit, they are safe and the new person hits someone else. If they are hit before they make it back, they must go again.
If you have more than about 10 people, you can definitely get more than one noodle going at a time.
Other Rules To Mention
– No pushing or intentionally running in to another person.
– The noodle must land in the garbage can or the person starts over.
– You can not hit the person who just hit you.
Be sure to have some music in the background and this game can go on for awhile before they get tired of it.
This is a game we played when I was in Junior High and I loved it. Seems to work best with groups of about 20 or more. It is sort of like the Frogger, which we will put up soon. A great game for youth group.
Have everyone sit in a circle, with chairs or on the floor. Everyone will close their eyes and the leader will pick someone to be the winker. Then you say go and everyone put their head’s up and tries to figure out who the winker is. The winker attempts to knock people out of the game by winking at them. Once you are winked at, wait 5 seconds, raise your hand, and say ‘I’m out.’ Usually works best to have those who are out do something like put their finger on their nose or put their head down.
If someone thinks they know who the winker is, they can raise their hand and say ‘I think I know who it is.’ They must have a second person to back them up. So then a second person raises their hand and says ‘I second.’ The first person guesses, if they guess right, they win. If they guess wrong, both of the people are out. The people accusing should be careful because if they get winked at in the process they are out and can not guess.
The game is played until the winker is caught or everyone is out.
One more little thing we like to say is that if you can not wink to raise your hand while the leader is picking someone so that you are not picked. It is also important to stress to people that they can not talk when their head’s are down and when they are knocked out of the game.
This game does not really have a name, but is very simple. You play until everyone or most people figure it out.
Simply find an item that can be passed around. Let's use a roll of toilet paper for an example. The leader will start by saying “Ok, we are going to play the toilet paper game, do you know how to play the toilet paper game?” and they will pass the toilet paper to someone else. That person will now try to do it correctly. You will tell them they either did it right or wrong and then let the next person try.
The trick to the game that needs to be figured is out that everyone person starts by saying ‘OK.’
This is a great way to get people to find their small groups. This was used for a Freshman Catholic School retreat and thought I would share it.
Make the groups certain categories like: Food, Movies, Places in (your state), etc… Keep the categories very general.
Then make a sticky note for each person and put something on the sticky note that would fall in the category of their small group. Every person should have something different on their back, but by asking yes or no questions to their peers they will soon find out what group they belong in.
Have the small group leaders stand on one end of the room. The people must find as many members of their small group that they can, go to their small group leader and ask if they are the leader for their category.
Soon all of the small groups will be figured out.
It takes a little bit of prep beforehand, but is a great way to get everyone moving around before they chat in small groups.
A great game for any size group. Typical ‘circle’ game where the person in the middle tries to get out. Comes with several different options. Easily create more of your own also!
This game can be played with as little as 5 people and still be a ton of fun. It is a typical circle game where everyone is standing in a circle and there is one person in the middle. The person in the middle tries to get out of the middle.
It is good to start the game off with the first two basic rules. When the person in the middle goes up to someone they have the option of saying one of two things. They can either say ‘BOP’ or ‘BOPPITY BOP BOP BOP.’ If they say ‘BOPPITY BOP BOP BOP,’ the person they are saying it to must say ‘BOP’ before they finish or they take the persons place in the middle. If the person in the middle just says ‘BOP,’ the person they are saying it to must not say anything or they are in the middle. You can play with these rules for a little while then add more.
The rest of the rules are still said to one person, but there are also responses for those standing next to that person, so each rule includes three people. Add these in one at a time. As they get used to the new one add another, letting them use any of the previous ones also. Basically the one person who messes up their action the most (if anyone), must go into the middle.
If the person in the middle says: Jello (then quickly counts to 10), the person they are talking to wiggles their whole body like jello and the two people beside them make a bowl around the jello with their arms.
If the person in the middle says: Disco (then quickly counts to 10), the person they are talking to makes a disco movement and the two people beside them make flashing lights with their hands.
If the person in the middle says: Cow (then quickly counts to 10), the person the are talking to crosses their fingers with their thumbs pointing down (making utters) and the two people beside them grab an utter and "milk the cow".
If the person in the middles says: Pirate (then quickly counts to 10), the person they are talking to points up and yells "Arrrr" and the two people beside them make rowing motions outside of the boat.
You should split up into groups of 3-6 people. You can have more than six, but not seven people. This game is unique in that the group(s) will work together to win.
The goal of the game is to count to 50. One person starts by saying “1.” The next person continues with “2.” You go around the circle until you get to 50. The tricky part is that there are a couple of rules to follow.
Anytime a person gets to a number that is a multiple of 7 or contains the number 7 (7, 14, 17, 21, 27, 28, 35, 37, 42, 47, 49) they must say BUZZ instead of the number.
No one can help another person out or talk, unless it is their turn and they get one answer.
If the person says the wrong number or answer, the group must start over.
You can play with more than one group and make it so the first group that gets to 50 wins or play with one group and anytime someone messes up they are out.
Make it even harder
If that is easy enough for them, play BUZZ-FIZZ:
Keep the Buzz game going as above, but add FIZZ each time a multiple of 5 or a number with a 5 in it is said (Tricky one is 35 when you must say Buzz-Fizz).
Here’s a quick game that works in almost any setting…plus everybody gets to play. All you need is a hand towel (or dish towel). Here’s how you do it. Prior to the game, tie a small knot in the middle of a hand towel. (You may want to do this to several hand towels to speed up play.) Then, get everybody that wants to play into a circle, facing inward. This is an “every man for themselves” kind of game. The object is for players to throw the hand towel at the other players in the circle, hitting them BELOW the neck, and eliminating them from play. Players who are hit must leave the circle. The last 4 players standing, are the winners.
Here are the rules:
Players CANNOT throw the towel at people standing two places on either side of them. (In other words, they need to throw “across” the circle and not at somebody close by.)
If a player throws the towel and hits another player in the neck, face, or head, the player who threw the towel is out. (Have a judge handy to make calls about this one. For instance, a player could have thrown a towel low enough, but the other player “ducked” into it.)
After a throw (that gets somebody out or misses) ANYBODY who grabs the towel off the floor can throw it. There is no order for throwing.
Catching is NOT allowed. Players must absolutely dodge the thrown towel
NOTE: The extra hand towels can be used to speed up the pace of the game so that students aren’t chasing the towel between every throw. You can also use multiple towels at once for a real frenzy! Have fun with this addicting little game!
You will need at least 5 people to play. If you have more than 25 people, it may be good to split them in to two groups. First have everyone shake each others hand and introduce themselves to each other. Then have everyone stand in a circle.
Everyone will look down at their feet. When the leader yells “SCREAMING TOES” everyone will look up and look at one other person. They should have this person in mind before the leader yells "SCREAMING TOES". If the person they are looking at is not looking at them, then they say nothing. If the person they are looking at is looking at them also, then the first person to yell the first name of the other person wins and the other person is out. Play until you are down to two people and both of those people are the winners.
This game is like rock, paper, scissors. We play it with individuals, if you browse around there is a group/team version of this game. Have everyone grab a partner and stand back to back. Count to three and have them turn around and do an action. You can create your own actions for the three characters or have the youth create them before you start. It is in an elimination game so the loser of the two is out. The winners take on other winners until you are down to one.
As an icebreaker, be sure to come up with some clever things to have them get to know their partners a bit in between in each round. Use random “get to know you” questions or have them share stories.
Gorilla beats the Woman
Woman beats the Man
Hunter beats the Gorilla
Johnny Whoop is a game that involves having the youth ‘figure out’ the rules. You start by showing them the way to do it and then having them learn how.
I’ve found a great video explaining the game. Great, especially because the gal that recorded was clearly the subject of the game at some point!
Music (music must be loud, game gets loud and people need to hear it stop)
This is probably one of the greatest games for retreat type atmosphere when you need to lighten things up a little bit. To start have group of between 6-8 people form a circle. You can just have one or two groups. They do not compete against the other groups and there really is not a winner.
This game is played like ‘Hot Potato’ with a twist. Have one person volunteer to use their shoe as the hot potato. Start off by playing one round like hot potato and start the music. When the music stops, have the person holding the show stand. You will give this person an action that must be done every time they are given the shoe from now on. You start the music again and when you stop have the person who ended up with the shoe do a different action. If it was the same person as the first round, they must now do both actions before they can pass the shoe.
Here are some examples of actions.
Yell ‘I HAVE THE SHOE’
Give everyone in your group a high five.
Sing “It’s fun to sing at the Y.M.C.A. while doing the actions.
Do the chicken dance
Do the Macarena
Blow Kisses to everyone in your group
Skip around the group once
Say two words that rhyme.
Do the entire head, shoulders, knees, and toes
Flex like a professional body builder (must do different flex each time)
Usually this is enough actions. Keep a look out for people who have several actions and those that think it is a little too funny and be sure ‘accidentally’ stop the music on them.
I often have friends in ministry who ask me for directions on games I play and I typically just point them to the site. When a friend asked me about Spoons and I realized I had never mentioned it on this site, I immediately realized how incomplete the game library on here is. So, for those who don’t know, here are the instructions to the youth group game that I take much too seriously!
Spoons (one for every person)
This game is very simple. It is played like musical chairs where everyone is competing for a spoon and the one person who does not get one is out. You play the game until only one person is left.
It is ideal to play with no more than 8-10 people. If you have more than this, break it in to several games and have a championship table when each group is down to only a few.
Have everyone sit around a table and put one spoon for each person in the middle of the table. Take one spoon out so there is one less spoon than the number of people. Have one person deal four cards to each player. The goal with the cards is to get four of a kind (4 Aces, 4 Kings, etc.) To start the game the dealer will take one card from the remaining deck. They must decide if they want to swap the card out with one of theirs or pass it to the left. If they swap it out, they must pass one of their previous cards to the left, leaving them always with four cards. The person to the left does the same thing with the passed cards and the cards continuously go around the table.
When someone has four of a kind they can grab a spoon. Once one person has four of a kind everyone else can grab a spoon at the same time.
That’s it. Shuffle and deal again, removing one spoon each time and a eliminating a new player!
Here is video I found online of a group playing spoons.