About 20 minutes before youth group was to start, I saw some unusual activity going on around the side-by-side entryways to our bathrooms in the foyer. There were a suspicious amount of guys together in there. When I see more than two or three my immediate response is to get an adult leader for a quick bathroom check. As I bolted to get Jared (a.k.a. youth leader wrestler ninja) dispatched to bathroom recon I noticed similar activity going on in the girls bathroom . Girls running in and out, all sorts of shrieking going on within.
I did what any great youth worker would do. I waited for Jared to come out before I did anything. He'd be the litmus test for how I would soon enter the girls bathroom. When he came out laughing I knew that something was up but nothing dangerous or humiliating was happening.
Whew. I still have a job.
Then he told me the tale.
"The boy's said, THERE'S A BALL, IN A BOOT, IN THE GIRLS BATHROOM."
"Yes, they said THERE'S A BALL, IN A BOOT, IN THE GIRLS BATHROOM AND WE NEED IT BACK."
I entered the girls restroom past the sinks, past the toilets, and into the shower area where there were lockers and a handful of girls hiding behind shower curtains.
I asked them the only question I knew to ask....
"IS THERE A BALL? IN A BOOT? HERE IN THE BATHROOM??"
That's when the smallest of the girls, Brianna, comes up to me wide eyed and shoeless. "Yes" but they were throwing it at us and I didn't know where to put it so I took off my boots and hid it in there and put it in a locker!"
I couldn't help but laugh. That's awesome! Show me.
She walked me over to a locker and under a pile of jackets were the boots and inside one of them was a small ball. And all of this, as the boys had stated was happening in the bathroom.
I walked the girls out with the ball and asked Adrian to apologize for throwing the ball at the girls, even if he didn't do it on purpose and I asked Bri to give the ball back. Even though their game had ended I could see the satisfaction on the girls faces as if they had won.
So far, our game night was off to a great start!
I used a free ebook that I got awhile back to plan some winter games and I'll share with you how they worked out. You may want to try these during your Christmas gatherings. The whole night was a blast and I left feeling like I knew my students better. I hope you have a merry Christmas and I hope play is a part of your philosophy for ministry. The release from the daily stress they (and we) face is priceless and we find ourselves loving each other through stolen bouncy balls, boot stash, and bathroom shenanigans.
Game notes: This is a great game where partners on teams of 10-12 relay race on a wood floor using freezer paper as bobsleds. the ebook says to use the slick side of the wax paper. FAIL!! Wax paper is waxy on BOTH sides. Do not use this or the teens won't budge and inch. We realized this about an hour before and Jared (same Jared mentioned above) saved the day by getting FREEZER Paper. It's strong so it won't tear, wider, and slides great.
Game Notes: Awesome game for people who never get to see snow. Or, for people who hate being in the cold but would love a good snowball fight. It's the same concept as dodgeball except you are using jumbo marshmallows. We used the giant campfire marshmallows you can buy at Wal-Mart. They were AMAZING. The game instructions say not to let students aim for the head--even though it won't hurt. IT ABSOLUTELY HURTS! If you're using a gym a flying giant marshmallow can feel like a can of pilsbury dough exploding on your forehead. Be careful. I may have a mild concussion and my eye may be glued shut just a little. Just kidding--no injuries at all but be careful with the head shots.
(By the way, the same girls who had the ball in the boot in the bathroom, strategically hoarded masses of marshmallows in the corner of the room as they were pretending to "not play". Then they launched a full assault on the other team at the end. Genius.) Elf Yourself:
This one is for next week but I'll throw it in here because I've done it before. We use a jib jab greeting to "elf" some of our leaders and show it to everyone. Then we have stockings, shoes, belts, sweaters, etc. lined up for volunteers to elf themselves in a race. Goodwill is a great place to find elf garb and it's a cool photo/ instagram opportunity too. You can integrate instagram with your youth group twitter account or Facebook page to keep people talking about the fun they had with their friends. I like to put one or two high school leaders in charge of great camera shots to keep me free to comment on the games and participate as well.