Outdoor Games

Paperclip Swap

This idea can be done on a Sunday with people from church, on a church weekend away or just as an activity in town. Arm pairs / groups of young people with a paperclip each (like I say, make sure they’re in pairs at a minimum and preferably each group with a leader depending on your child protection rules). The challenge is to swap the paperclip to get something better. Each group has a set time (for example 1 hour) to swap this paperclip for something more valuable. Gather together at the end and see who has got the best swap! (Thanks to Andy Hood for this idea, seen at work at Devon Christian Youth Camps 2011).

Water Slide

As seen at a weekend away. For this you’ll need some super-soakers, buckets of water and a long ground sheet covered in soapy water to make it slidey (you may have to re-set the ground sheet and straighten out each time it’s used, plus maybe ‘re-soap’)! What happens is simply that the young people (dressed in appropriate clothing, or at least with a spare set of dry clothes) have to run past youth leaders armed with super-soakers and buckets, just in front of the ground sheets. As the young people run past they are showered with the super-soakers or buckets of water. The young people then have to slide as far down the ground sheet as they can. The winners are those who skid and slide the furthest!

Fetch the Frisbee

For this you’ll need a frisbee and a blindfold.

Choose one person and sit them outside on a rock or suitable place, blindfolded. In front of them, place a frisbee on the ground. Everyone else has to retreat around 20 metres away and sit down. One by one, you choose someone to go up and try to remove the frisbee from in front of the blindfolded person, without the blindfolded person pointing at them. If the person sneaking up manages to get the frisbee, they take over as the blindfolded person and the frisbee is placed in front of them for someone else to try. To make the game harder for the blindfolded person, get more than one person to sneak up on them at the same time 🙂

‘Ultimate Frisbee’

A fun game that you can use out on the beach, in a local park – or in the church car park! You have a frisbee and you have 2 teams within a defined area (‘pitch’). Each team ‘guards’ a ‘goal line’ at their end of the pitch. There should be an area of space behind each ‘goal line’ too. The game is kind of American Football, but with a frisbee.

The purpose of the game is to throw the frisbee to others on your team and get one of them to catch the frisbee, over the opposition’s ‘goal line’. When someone has caught the frisbee, they cannot move and must throw it to another team member. If the frisbee is dropped, it automatically goes across to the opposition. At the end of a period of time, the team with the most ‘goals’ wins. Remember the frisbee must be caught behind the ‘goal line’ to count. There is no interference allowed with people when the frisbee is in play, other than accidentally – so no holding back the ‘receiver’ of the frisbee.

After that, the rules are up to you!!

Or go to www.whatisultimate.com and find out more! 

Free Running Game (Parkour)

OK, so you’ve probably heard of parkour, the sport / art of seeing your urban environment in a new way – a way that means you travel across and around it by seeing urban architecture as objects to travel under, over, across. Basically the obstacles such as benches, walls, handrails, steps etc. are there to be jumped over, vaulted over, swung over, rolled under, climbed up and across.. This is quite a stylized art and there’s probably someone into this sport that you’ll know. This also involves stylized filming that is great fun to do..

For more (and better explanations on parkour) – www.parkour.org.uk – www.parkour.com – urbanfreeflow –  parkour UK

Traffic light game

OK, so this one comes with a distinct safety warning and was not done by me but a youth pastor friend early in his youth pastor days. Can be a bit of fun but not as busy intersections… No liability accepted for use of this game!! 

Draw up to a red traffic light. The game is that everyone has to get out of the car and run round and back into their seat before the traffic light changes to green. That’s it. One of those ‘for the moment’ youth work games that needs serious safety considerations!! And don’t tell the church leadership.. 

Just a new feature (suggested by Andy H) – why not do ‘3 car traffic lights’ where the occupants of 3 cars have to get into the car in front (or the first car occupants have to get into the back car). Except the drivers of course!

Best do this at non busy junctions with no other cars around !! BE SAFE. 

Points Mean Prizes

Another one of those games where young people have to go out and about and do some crazy stuff for points. The more points, the better the prizes! You decide the prizes according to your group but obviously sweets and candy are always good!

Here are some of the ideas and points:

Points 1 Everyone eating something 10 points 
Points 2 Everyone in a telephone box 15 points 
Points 3 All playing on swings or on kiddy stuff in a park 20 points 
Points 4 Talking to someone from the church 20 points
Points 5 Everyone sitting in one car20 points 
Points 6 Photo of an ambulance, police car, fire engine in action 25 points 
Points 7 Standing on your heads in a park 25 points 
Points 8 Lined up outside another church 25 points
Points 9 Photo of the inside of the local soccer / sports stadium 30 points 
Points 10 Sitting in a graveyard30 points
Points 11 Kissing a total stranger 40 points 
Points 12 Handcuffed by a police officer 50 points 
BONUSESIn the funniest situation you can think of 20-50 points 
BONUSESAll posing as a character from the Christmas story 20-50 points 
BONUSESAll posing as pop stars in the local high street 20-50 points 

Remember that originality, honor and quality earn more points. They must not trespass or break the law. They must also be careful who they approach. You will need a leader or junior leader with each group at all times to assess and points score for the group. Group size is up to you according to numbers of young people / leaders. 

Telephone Box

If you can actually find a telephone box near where you are then this game is for you. Simple and many people have done things like this before (being aware of safe from harm protection etc!) So squish as many people as you can in the telephone box (eg no leaders) and rules saying no inappropriate touching! Either do a telephone box, or do a car, or a cupboard. Or do all 3 and see which wins. If there’s no telephone box, your local mobile phone shop should do.. only joking.

Winter BBQ

Everyone has a BBQ in the Summer months, how totally predictable. We do a BBQ in the cold. It’s just as much fun if not better. Make sure it’s at night. Bring along woolies, warm clothes, funky hats,. Don’t forget sparklers, sticks and marshmallows. Guitars are not compulsory for the round the camp songs. Can be a great time to eat, chill and chat. 

Beach BBQ

In Summer time get down the beach and have a BBQ. In many places you aren’t allowed a beach BBQ or need permission or have to book existing BBQ locations so plan in advance. To make things different, have the usual assortment of BBQ items – burgers, sausages, marshmallows etc. But make things different – have other BBQ items such as baked beans, fish, sweets, fruit, vegetables, and anything you can lay your hands on that you don’t normally BBQ. Get young people to bring an item to be BBQ and no, we aren’t (just) talking about Hearsay albums..

Want to use a parachute?

So this is normally for the younger ages but why not for the young people? You can get parachutes from Army surplus places – try www.the-outdoor.co.uk which is the cheapest I’ve found or – www.springfields.co.uk or http://www.exarmy.co.uk

Snow Storm

This is an idea done by the Luton Schools Education Trust and it involves getting industrial Hollywood sized snow machines which literally blow artificial snow into the air that then falls as snowflakes, it’s amazing. We’re not sure of the cost of these machines but to hire they’re probably upwards of £200-£300 each but get together with other churches and spread the cost or charge! Click here for industrial snow machines – prices from £70 for smaller portable, £120 for backpacks and £800 for a snow storm truck!! (Hire prices!!)

Dictaphone Mania

Take a dictaphone machine or mini disc and mic and go round interviewing people randomly. For example people giving out free leaflets, ‘How much are they?’ ‘They’re free’ ‘So can I buy 2 for the price of one.’ etc. etc. Drive up to someone in an empty car park and ask them if there’s anywhere they know to park. And so on.. be a bit careful.. some people do get a bit ratty. Idea by Sparky.

Fake TV

An idea from Dave Browne and Andy Hood here (cheers lads). Get a TV camera or one that looks convincingly like one, get a sign printed up saying something like ‘Channel 6’ and start interviewing people or film young people doing something they planned before (like the ‘Praise You’ video by Fatboy Slim)

Find The Leader

Yeh it’s old but hey, some people don’t know it! Before I explain, let me say that in the current climate of safety and lawsuits, this game does carry some risk. I recommend that if you haven’t got enough leaders to go with a group of young people, you ask other safe adults in the church to help either to be a character or to escort groups. Please be careful.

This is a game perfect for weekends away. It’s where the leaders dress up as different characters – so you dress up as Father Christmas, a marathon runner, a pizza delivery boy or girl, a dustman, a clergyman, a bank robber (look very far-fetched else you may get arrested) etc. The young people in groups (with a leader) must find the characters. Whether you give them a list of all the characters or not is up to you. Set a time limit. Have mobiles. I would also consider informing the local police!

You Gotta Shop It

Again, be careful. Get a list of things that are quite ridiculous and encourage young people, with a leader/helper, to achieve the tasks. It has to involve going into shops etc. So, all walk down the middle of the street wearing a different hat, pretend to rob a bank (please talk to the manager first and be careful!), all have a different mobile phone, all order a different kind of food from the chippy and so on.

Assault Course

This one done on a weekend away by A and S. An assault course and 2 teams. Things the young people had to do – old classics like apple bobbing (getting an apple out of water using only their mouth), then new favourites like shaving someone with shaving foam on, using a razor without a knife, shaving a balloon with shaving cream on with a razor without popping the balloon), carrying logs to test strength and stamina and more! 

Good fun but please be careful to make sure everyone wants to take part (encourage everyone to). Also make sure all people have old clothes on. Finally, don’t be stupid and do disgusting, humiliating or dangerous things.

Get that sound

Arrange some groups for a team game. Arm the groups with dictaphones, minidisc players or anything like that – ask around for dictaphones – they’re cheaper! Then give the groups a list of sounds to go and get. Examples are a train pulling away, a police siren, music from a restaurant, a toilet flushing, a pigeon, a phone ringing etc. etc!

Photo time

Get out and about with some Kodak cameras or the Polaroid i-zone ones and get out snapping. Get the group into teams each with a leader. If it’s easier or safer use a car. Give each team a list of stuff to snap from easy to difficult – a police car, a horse, a green door. Or make it harder and say all the group have to be footed in a telephone box, up a tree, in a stream etc.

Scavenger Hunt

Similar to above. Get groups into teams again. Then get out and bring back some objects like a BigMac box, a flyer from a shop, a stranger’s phone number, a piece of carpet, a lighter, a person (!) Be as creative as you like. Our group plucked strangers from their homes/off the street. Seriously..!


Our old youth club’s favourite outdoor game. Basically it’s like hide and seek only you’ve got to find them around the local park/stream/bushes etc. and catch them. Put it this way, it keeps you fit – and wet..

Bit more explanation to help after an enquiry from someone via the contact page. Tracker is called tracker and not hide and seek as it sounds better! Most popular with younger teens (junior high) and often the lads – but not always!!

Another reason it’s called tracker as it’s based on the hide and seek but with the added twist that as people can move, it’s about the skill of the ‘hunter’ to ‘track’ the ‘prey’.

Location we used was a park with a tiny stream, woodland, BMX mounds and little paths – basically use somewhere that young people can hide safely – in line with any child protection stuff you may have (and away from drugs aparatus like we found one week..)

2 people are set as ‘trackers’ (inevitably the youth leaders) – basically you’re a finder. 

The others in the group have to go hide themselves in the defined area. The people who hide are allowed to move location (unlike hide and seek).

To catch someone, the trackers physically have to touch the person hiding (this can involve a bit of running! Also need to be sensitive about how you touch obviously!) Once a person has been caught they become a tracker as well.

You can put time limits on the game with a whistle acting as ‘time’. Otherwise I can imagine some teens hidden up a tree for hours… I know of some that have done exactly this. Oh and I did it too.

The Wide Game

Another favourite. You need a large area for this so on a weekend away in the country is good. Two teams. Each team has a separate territory with clear boundaries and a dividing line. Each team also has 5 flags on sticks which are placed in a roped off semicircle. There is also another semicircle roped off nearby for enemy prisoners

The object of the game is to get into the other team’s territory and nick their flags without getting touched. If you get touched you have to stand in the other team’s semicircle for prisoners. The only way out is to be tagged by a member of your team. If you get a flag, you have safe passage back to your territory. You can defend the flags but you aren’t allowed to be closer than 5 metres at any time. This is a great laugh but is a hard one to police – be tough but fair!