Special Events

Special Events

by Youth Specialties

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More than 400 creative events for community building, outreach, and fun! - Food Events . . . If there's one thing kids know and appreciate, it's food. Here's everything from elegant fetes to slobfests galore. - Games and Sports Events . . . You don't have to be a jock to have fun playing these sporting events. - Outings and Overnighters . . . If you're crazed enough


More than 400 creative events for community building, outreach, and fun! - Food Events . . . If there's one thing kids know and appreciate, it's food. Here's everything from elegant fetes to slobfests galore. - Games and Sports Events . . . You don't have to be a jock to have fun playing these sporting events. - Outings and Overnighters . . . If you're crazed enough to take a group of adolescents on the road -- whether across town or across the state -- here are plenty of trip ideas. - Races and Rallies . . . Your group have a need for speed? Whether it's cars, bikes, buses, or toilets -- if it can be raced, you'll find an idea for it here. - Special Events with a Purpose . . . More than fun. These events carry significant spiritual, moral, or community value. And more -- hunts and parties and theme events of all kinds! Whether you're a youth worker or recreation director in a church, school, club, or camp -- Special Events is your storehouse of proven, youth-group tested ideas.

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Ideas Library
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Zondervan Publishing
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17 MB
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Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Special Events


Copyright © 1997 Youth Specialties
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-310-22040-8

Chapter One


The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat can be yours with a well-planned game night or sports event. For the most part, you don't have to be a jock to have fun playing these. For games that are part of a larger theme event, see "Theme Events" on page 95.

All-Church Olympics

Here's a way for your church to have its own summer Olympic games. Place participants in nations or countries (or just make the youth group one country and the rest of the church the other country).

Create an Olympic committee to organize and schedule events over a period of a month, with different events slated for each week. Kick things off with an opening ceremony; finish with a closing ceremony. Purchase or create awards (gold, silver, and bronze medals) for the winners in each event.

Events can include both individual and team competition-volleyball, racquetball, tennis, pool, bowling, ping-pong, tug-of-war, Frisbee throwing, cow chip tossing, anything that you can think up. Provide horseshoes and dart games for the more sedentary crowd, relays and bike contests for children, and especially competitive games for teens and active adults. These Olympics can truly perk up a dull summer and draw together your entire congregation. John Herbert Jaffry

Bat and Putt Night

Rent a miniature golf course and batting cages in your area for about two hours so you can have it to yourselves. Create extra excitement by guaranteeing special prizes for all winners. Here's how to arrange your competition:

Divide your teens into groups at different competitive levels:(junior high girls, junior high boys, senior high girls, senior high boys) so that each person competes with those near his or her own level. The competitions can be arranged in several categories such as-

Golf score for whole round


Best score left-handed

Highest number of strokes on one hole

Highest number of strokes for a whole round (These last two categories are for those who aren't as skilled as the others.)

If you have batting cages, you can add two more categories to your competition:

Most hits in 25 tries

Most consecutive hits

For each category you should award four minor prizes. Then four grand prizes should be awarded to the kids who have done the best in all categories. To determine this you have to establish a system of points awarded for their scores: number of hits, holes-in-one, and so on.

Or you could ask if the owner of the golf and batting course will give you some free passes (assuming that you pay him a fair price for your evening's fun). If he does, you can award them to kids who meet the challenges you set before them, such as making a certain putt or making holes-in-one. Another aspect of having a successful evening rests in your ability to sell it to the kids. Advertise it with posters saying "First Annual (City or youth group name) Golf Open and Batting Championships." Build it up, excite the kids, and prepare to have a great time. Doug Graham

Bicycle Pedalmonium Day

This is a fun event that can involve the entire youth department in an exciting day full of bike activities.

Bicycle Olympics. Divide the group into four competing groups if you have junior high through college age involved: junior high boys, junior high girls, senior high and college boys, senior high and college girls. Points and prizes can be awarded the winners in each division.

Some sample events:

-100-Yard Dash. A race for time. Use a stopwatch.

-20-Lap Endurance Race. Should be about five miles on a regular quarter-mile track. Award points to first through fifth places.

-Bicycle Demolition. Have all bike riders form a circle about 100 feet in diameter. They may each have all the water balloons they can carry (stuffed in shirts, pockets, etc.). When the whistle blows, they all interweave in the circle and let each other have it!

-Bike Jousting. Bike riders ride toward each other in parallel lanes. Each rider gets a water balloon. The object is to ride by your opponent and hit him with the balloon, without getting hit yourself. Winners advance.

-Bike Pack. See how many can fit on a bike and still go 10 feet.

-Figure Eight Race. Set up a figure-eight track. Contestants ride it, one at a time, for best clocked time.

-Obstacle Race. Set up a track with obstacles - mud, trees, or whatever - to make riding difficult. Include anything you want. The rougher the better. From a starting point, bikes compete for time. On the trail have a Long Jump (4-inch log that the bike must jump over), Tight Rope (a 2x6 that is 12 feet long and about six inches off the ground), a Limbo Branch (low tree branch or board about 10 inches above the handle bars), and a Tire Weave (eight or ten old tires set up in a row about six feet apart). The one who completes the course in the fastest time wins. You can make penalties for those who mess up on some of the obstacles.

-Baton Relay. Ride bikes across the parking lot and hand off baton to next rider on the team.

-Slalom Race. Time kids as they ride bikes through a slalom course. Have a stopwatch on hand.

-Snail Race. Mark off a narrow trail and riders must try to stay in the trail and ride as slowly as possible. Feet may not touch the ground. The rider with the longest time wins.

-Straw Race. Place coke bottles all over the parking lot with drinking straws in them. Bike riders must ride up to the bottles, pick up the straws with their bare toes, then reach down with their hands and take it from their toes.

Bike Road Rally. This is a simple treasure hunt event in which teams of three to four bike riders must follow clues to reach a final destination. By arranging for the teams to go different routes, yet ending up at the same place, they won't be able to follow each other. The first team to finish the course is declared the winner. This should take about an hour.

Bike Tour. Last on the activity list is a bike ride to a not-too-distant park or beach for a hamburger and hot-dog feed.

Make sure participants have appropriate safety gear. Ken Etley, Roger Disque and Nancy Thompson

Bowling Awards

Does your youth group enjoy bowling? If so, here's how to make an average bowling night much more interesting. Print up some awards like the one pictured here, and give them for categories like these:

Most strikes

Low game

Most expressionless bowler

Greatest hope for the pro tour

Most creative shot of the night

Best form (male/female)

Most gutter balls

High game (male/female)

Sore loser award Paul E.B. Gruhn

Summer Blizzard Blast

These special event ideas for hot days are built around snow and ice themes. Give teams names such as The Icicles, The Snowdrifts, The Snowflakes, and so on. Here are some sample games you can play:

Snowball Fight. Teams wad up stacks of newspaper into snowballs and throw them into the other team's territory. The team with the least amount of snow in its territory at the end of the game is the winner.

Ice Melting Contest. Each team receives a block of ice. Players must try to melt the block using only their hands (rubbing it). The ice is weighed at the beginning of the game and after the game. The ice block that has lost the most weight wins. The game can go for about ten to fifteen minutes.

Mining for Marbles. Team members try to find marbles hidden in a large pan of crushed ice ... using only their toes.

Ski Relay. Make skis (old shoes nailed to strips of wood) and have the kids put them on and race in them. You can do this also with snowshoes.

Snowman Feed. Hold a pie-eating contest using lots of whipped cream. No hands are allowed.

If done during the winter, or if you live somewhere near snow, then you can add some authentic snow games. Refreshments can include varieties of ice cream, snow cones, iced tea, and so on. Use your own creativity and this event can be a lot of fun. Robert McDonald

Card Table Game Night

Here is just the event for a night when it's raining or snowing and there is no place to go. Before the kids come, set up one card table for every three or four kids you are expecting. Place one table at the front of the room where the teller and the leader can sit. Have at least one game per table. The games must be for three to four players and be such that a winner may be determined in some way at the end of 15 minutes. If you have more games than you need, that's okay. Just save them until later and exchange them for other games. When the kids come in they are instructed to find an empty chair around one of the game tables until all the chairs have been taken. Each table has 15 minutes to play their game.

When the bell rings at the end of the period, play must stop. The winners at each table report to the teller who has a large stack of red, white, and blue poker chips. The chips are awarded to the winners as follows:

First place: 6 reds or 3 blues (tie-3 reds or 12 whites each)

Second place: 3 reds or 12 whites (tie-6 whites each)

Chip values: 1 blue equals 2 reds or 8 whites; 1 red equals 4 whites.

There can be only three or four players per game per period, (no more or no less) and no one can stay at the same game for two consecutive periods. The nonwinners stay at their tables long enough to re-organize the game for the next group of players and the play begins when all the players have settled down to their new game. At the end of the evening you can award prizes to those with the most chips ... or you can have an auction (using the chips as money) which allows everyone to take something home. Joel Guillemette

Couch Potato Race

More than just a race, this event can entertain participants and spectators (no pun intended) for the better part of an afternoon. The heart of the event is the race itself, in which two or three couch potatoes each recline on a couch that is pushed like crazy down the race course by their team. Get some old, donated, or Salvation Army sofas that have casters, can have casters attached to them, or that can be firmly strapped to a piano dolly or mechanic's creeper dolly. Lay out a course with lime, chalk, or speed cones.

Conduct several types of races, all with the couch potato theme. In addition to the straightforward speed race, collect some old living-room furniture destined for the dumpster and set up an obstacle course that teams must push their sofas through. Introduce this race as a realistic exercise for a couch potato in quickly navigating his way around coffee tables, stacks of TV Guides, and piles of pop cans from the TV room into the kitchen for more food during commercials.

The enthusiasm rises when teams create their customized vehicles, adopt team names and costumes (all relating to couches, potatoes, TV, or the junk food consumed while watching it), and participate in the preliminary contests (most authentic imitation of a couch potato, cheerleaders' competition, most outlandish team costume, etc.).

After the races award appropriate couch potato prizes-couch potato games, stuffed couch potato toys, bags of potato chips, gift certificates for french fries, and packages of other munchies known to be inhaled by couch potatoes. Jeannie Duckworth

Guinness Games

Here's a great idea that can become an annual event for your youth group. Have a day of contests in which kids try to set a world's record a la The Guinness Book of World Records. However, kids do not compete against the Guinness book but against themselves. The first year, records are set and the following year kids try to break those records. They become the new record holders for the next year. Here are a few sample contests:

Eating Contests (amount of food eaten within time limit) Hamburgers Marshmallows Tacos Lemon Wedges Bananas Onions

Endurance Contests (time) Standing on your head Running in place Talking Stare down Pogo Stick Jumping Dribbling a basketball Keeping eyes open without blinking

Skill Contests Free-throw shooting (percentage of shots) Burping (number in succession) Frisbee throwing (distance) Bubble blowing (number in succession) Marshmallow throwing (distance) Various games (highest scores)

Other Contests Hula Hoop Pack Marshmallows stuffed in mouth (number)

You may want to create boys' and girls' categories in the athletic contests. Kids can pay an entry fee and sign up for whatever events they would like to try. Trophies can be presented to the new record holders. Robert Brown

Croquet Party

An annual, formal croquet party just may become a highlight of the year! High schoolers will really enjoy the classiness of the event.

Secure a house that has a large lawn and a formal-looking place to meet-a manicured garden, plush living room, elegant patio. The formal gardens of a city park will always work if you have no formal house. Send formal invitations to everyone in the group a few weeks ahead of time. Dress, of course, is formal.

At the party have enough sets of croquet wickets set up to accommodate everyone. As they enter the yard, they are introduced to others by the butler (an adult sponsor). Waiters (more sponsors) circulate, serving Perrier water, cheese, and fruit. (You actually need only one bottle of Perrier per tray for appearance's sake-you can fill up their glasses with water, 7-Up, or club soda.) Supply classical background music from either a stereo or an actual string quartet-composed of your own students, if possible.

When everyone has arrived, begin the croquet games. Become familiar with the rules prior to the party so you can advise the less knowledgeable. When all but one player is eliminated, everyone retires to the garden or living room for a poetry reading. Prior to the party, assign a variety of humorous and more serious poetry, perhaps including the lyrics to a few popular Christian songs.

End the party on a rowdy note by returning to the lawn for a few chuckers of polo. The girls, wielding croquet mallets, ride their polo ponies (the guys) and attempt to shoot a croquet ball into the goals.

Be sure to shoot lots of pictures so you can show slides of the party at the next youth group meeting. Formal prom-type photos make nice gifts, too. Keith Wright

Goofy Golf

For a junior high or high school party, build your own miniature golf course. Purchase nine tin putting cups from a sporting goods store or golf pro shop. Ask kids to bring putters and golf balls or borrow putters and purchase inexpensive golf balls. A local golf course may have some old putters they could let you use. Then set up a nine-hole miniature golf course. Build it in your church basement, youth room, or gym. Create ramps, water traps-even run the course down sets of stairs. Use tape on the floor for tee-off boxes. Use old 2x4s for banking the balls (save the woodwork). Make a night of it and have tournament prizes and score cards. Kids love the fun and competition! Steve Ziemke

Fun Fair

This activity is good for a whole night's fun and involves creativity, skill, and competition. Tell everybody coming to the evening to bring various items such as hammers, nails, string, paper, buckets, etc., but don't tell them why. Each person must also bring $.50. As players arrive, exchange their $.50 for fifty pennies. Have the kids group themselves in teams of two to four people. Then tell them they have one hour in which to think up and build a game booth for their team.

Various items such as balloons, paper, tacks, etc. can be provided and the participants are allowed to return home for any needed items. At the end of the hour, open the Fun Fair. Everybody (except those running games) is then free to go around and try the other booths, using up their fifty pennies. Team members are not allowed to try their own booths. The winning team is the one who, after an hour and a half or so, has gained the most money. Examples of booths are a simple penny toss into an ash tray, a dart throwing at a water balloon, a horror house, a water balloon tossed at an individual, a ball in the bucket, a penny shove, and a jail where you pay one cent to have a friend captured and held in jail for one minute. Brett Cane

Mini-Masters Tournament

Hold a golf tournament just like the pros, only do it on a miniature golf course. Have each person play three rounds with the totals posted on a big blackboard after each round. Give trophies to the winners in both the guys' and girls' divisions for first, second, and third places. You might try to secure a miniature golf course for a flat fee so the kids can play cheaper. John Davis


Excerpted from Special Events Copyright © 1997 by Youth Specialties.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

For over thirty years, Youth Specialties has worked alongside Christian youth workers of just about every denomination and youth-serving organization. We're here to help you, whether you're brand new to youth ministry or a veteran, whether you're a volunteer or a career youth pastor. Each year we serve more than 100,000 youth workers worldwide through our training seminars and conventions, resources, and on the Internet.

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