Have you noticed that youth ministry games tend to seem more fun when they’re played outdoors? When weather permits, move your gathering outside so kids can get some fresh air and stretch their muscles and creativity. You’ll promote group bonding, spark laughter and good memories, and even convey some important faith lessons in the process.
To help you get started, we’ve assembled this can’t-miss list of youth ministry games that work well outside. Pick and choose the ones that work best for your group members and that mesh with your mess-tolerance. Then get up and get out — outside, that is!
13 Youth Ministry Games to Play Outside
This no-preparation and no-prop icebreaker is ideal for large groups. As kids mingle around outside, simply call out “Mingle, Mingle” along with a number between 2 and 10. Groups of that number must then form, and through a process of elimination, you’ll end up with just two people as winners.
2. Lawn Twister
Put a twist on the teen-favorite Twister by creating a game “board” (rows of colored circles) on grass with washable spray paint. Then have a Twister tournament and see who can get tied up in the craziest knots. This game also is a hit at carnivals or festivals, if your youth group organizes those types of events.
Cool everyone off—literally!—on a hot day by playing this wacky game. Freeze a stack of wet youth ministry T-shirts beforehand, separated by layers of wax paper. Take the bundled of “brrr” outside and have kids race to see who can unfold and put on a shivery shirt first.
Jump on the oversized-gameboard trend with this fun matching game. Beforehand, create pairs of squares that contain matching images or Scripture verses on one side. Mix up the squares and place them on the ground outside, blank side up. Then have kids or pairs take turns “matching” wits with one another.
This quick and easy game will help kids release a bunch of energy in a short amount of time. Group members each put one hand on their head and then try to get one another “out” by tagging them with their elbows. Be sure to mark off the playing area so everyone stays within certain boundaries.
Play this active game at a retreat or camp where the lesson topic is temptation or peer pressure. As players hold hands and walk in a circle around an object, they try to push one another toward the source of temptation—and pull themselves away from it.
Light up the night with this active game. Give each player a small flashlight or pen light and have them play Tag in the dark. The game makes a great intro to a lesson about shining our light for Jesus.
Prepare to get messy with this craft-and-game combo. Have everyone wear white clothes that will be used as paint canvases. Set out a long plastic sheet, as you would for a Slip ‘n’ Slide, but instead of water, squirt the plastic with various colors of paint. Then have kids take turns sliding through and creating unique fashions.
Grab an air mattress or a swim raft and tells kids they’re going surfing! The “surfee” tries to keep a pitcher of water filled while being surfed across group members’ upraised arms. Play this on a hot day, as kids will most definitely get wet!
Reimagine the summer classic game by using a wide assortment of items as rackets—anything but the kitchen sink. Also get creative with what you use for a birdie, as well as for what represents the net. When you keep score, add extra points for creativity.
Prep some large bouncy balls so they glow brightly. Then take your youth group outside at night for a crazy version of dodgeball in the dark. For extra shine, kids can wear glow bracelets or necklaces.
Line the base paths with long plastic sheets, turn on some hoses or sprinklers, and play ball! This hot-weather version of kickball is sure to bring out the little kids in your teenagers.
Supplies for this version of volleyball include a net, beach towels, and lots of water balloons. Partners each grab an end of a towel, place a filled balloon on top of it, and attempt to fling the balloon over the net. The opposing pair tries to return the balloon over the net with their own towel—without getting soaked.
Enjoy these youth ministry games!