9 Crazy Youth Group Games That Are Bigger Than Ben Hur

April 27, 2011

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Wide games are great! We’ve all been to that camp or youth group night where we spend an entire evening playing the one game, it’s incredible fun!

When you’re on the other side and actually planning a wide game, it can be quite the opposite. Because of the planning that is required to successfully pull off a wide game, they can at times be quite stressful to organise, and then when the night comes you need everything to work perfectly in order for maximum fun to be achieved. But when they work, boy are they fun.

A field

This would probably be enough space to play some of these games

This list of 9 games are not completely organised wide games for you, rather they are ideas from which your planning can springboard from. At some stage in the future, I hope to fully plan a number of wide games and have them, as well as all resources needed for the game, available for download at some stage in the future.

But for now, here are 9 ideas for youth group wide games that will get you started in planning for that special night (or day).

  • Murder Mystery
  • Team Challenges Game
  • Water Fight
  • Spotto
  • Scav Hunt
  • Vampire
  • Capture the Flag
  • Glow in the Dark Games
  • Find the People

Murder Mystery Night (30+ people)

A Murder Mystery youth group night is one of the most elaborate things that you can plan. I have attended a few in my years and they have normally been based off murder mystery board games or have been written by very creative people. These nights need to be incredibly well planned and tend to only work well for older youth (years 10-12), but they can be spectacular if they work.

The night starts with a murder (or other terrible crime), which can be acted out by your leaders, or dramatically introduced. The general idea is that your youth group is divided into teams, and these teams are then given the task of solving the murder. They have to do this by walking around and asking characters (your leaders acting as characters) questions, the leaders then give out information as needed and the group has to formulate an answer by the end.

As you can imagine, these nights need a large number of leaders (preferably with acting skills) to work, as well as a ton of preparation from yourself and the rest of the leadership team (in learning their parts). But if you can pull it off, it will be amazing!

Team Challenges Game (30+ people)

This type of wide game generally involves your youth group being split up into teams. Each of these teams then needs to complete a number of smaller activities (such as crossing a swimming pool in a home made raft) over the course of a night. There would be a number of activities that you come up with and that a leader runs.

In between these activities, teams can be given challenges such as avoiding certain leaders with water bombs.

The basic premise of these wide games is that teams have to work together to finish each of the mini activities, and they then gather clues which will allow them to finish the whole game. As with a lot of wide games, lot’s of preparation and lot’s of leaders are needed.

Water Fight (5+ people)

Is there anything more fun than a water fight on a hot summers day?

There isn’t much to explain with a water fight, it’s basically throwing large amounts of water around and you win by getting the other team wet. However the aim of a water fight is to get wet, so not matter what, everyone wins!

If you really want you can score water fights by taping paper sheets to people. These are their “lives”, if their sheet of paper gets wet, then they are “dead”. They then have to go and get a new sheet of paper in order to keep playing. This can sometimes work, but in my experience, water fights work really well if you let chaos reign. (or if you combine them with paint wars…)

Spotto (10+ people)

Spotto is one of the more simple wide games, but more simple doesn’t mean less fun. Spotto works only at night and involves your youth trying to reach an object. The challenge is that there are leaders everywhere with torches, and if somebody is spotted moving while a torch is on them (or spotted not being sneaky enough), then they have to go back to the start. The person (or people) who reaches the object first wins.

Spotto is not only great by itself, but it can also be incorporated into other wide games as a mini challenge along the way. Something to keep in mind…

Scav Hunt (20+ people)

Scav hunt’s can take many different forms as youth group games. The underlying formula is that a team of youth is trying to find as many things as possible from a defined list and they get a number of points for each item on the list, the team with the most points at the end wins.

Common forms of scav hunts include the photo hunt and the item hunt. The photo hunt involves teams taking photos of certain items, normally with members of the team in the photo. The item hunt involves teams trying to find hidden objects and bring them back.

Scav hunts can be done on site or can be done using teams in cars. Just make sure you have enough responsible drivers and permission from parents to do this.

Vampire (15+ people)

I have some very fond memories of playing vampire as a teenager, but it is quite a complicated game, so read carefully.

At the start of the game, there is 1 vampire (or more depending on the size of your group). Their aim is to ‘bite’ every person and convert them to vampires. This is done over a number of turns, and is done by gently pinching someones shoulder. Everyone else’s aim is to not get bitten. Each turn, everyone leaves indoors, and tries to avoid being bitten. This can be done by running, or hiding, or whatever else. The vampire has to subtly bite others, because if anyone finds out they are the vampire, then they will easily be avoided. The vampire can bite as many people as they want each turn.

At the end of each turn, each person is brought inside on at a time and says if they have been bitten. If they haven’t, then next turn they will continue to avoid being bitten, if they have, then they become a vampire themselves, and from the start of the next turn, they will be able to bite 1 person per turn.

The last person alive at the end, wins.

Capture the Flag (12+ people)

Capture the flag is one of the more simple wide games. There are two teams, and two flags (or objects). The aim is to get the other teams flag. If you capture the other teams flag then you must run it back to your base without getting tipped. If you get tipped then the other team can take their flag back to where it was.

With this game, the placement of the teams is vital and it’s important to give each team time to think and talk about strategies and tactics.

Glow in the Dark Games (10+ people)

Glow in the dark games are really fun and quite easy to organise (compared to other wide games). The basic idea of the night is to convert a number of normal games into glow in the dark games by covering everything in glow sticks. The best glow sticks to get are the long thin ones (for necklaces and armbands), you can then give each person 5+ glow sticks, and cover any other resources (such as frisbees or balls) in glowsticks and sticky tape to make for a fun night.

Games that work well include ultimate frisbee, streets and lanes and human fooseball amoung others. Let your imagination go wild! But please be safe, because obviously you will need to turn all of the lights off if you’re indoors.

Find the People (15+ people)

This is a variation on Spotto that was mentioned before. For this game you need to hide a number of leaders over an area, and have a number of other leaders with torches spotting your youth. Their aim is to find the hidden leaders, and they have to avoid the leaders with torches when they are looking for leaders. Once they find a leader they get something to show that they have found them. The person (or small team) that finds all of the leaders first, wins.


There we go, 9 ideas for you to get started with when planning a wide game. Wide games are great fun when executed properly, but they do require a large amount of planning and resources to work well. Don’t let that scare you, because they are great experiences. As with all youth group games, they need to be explained very well, so practice explaining them before you explain the game to your youth group. But most importantly, have a lot of fun!

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Calum Henderson

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A Christian Primary school teacher. Married to Alice. I write about Christian ministry and technology, as well as anything that may interest me.

5 responses to 9 Crazy Youth Group Games That Are Bigger Than Ben Hur

  1. Some variations:
    Murder Mystery Night – this can also be done with bigger groups by having all the “characters” on stage and everyone in an audience. The host or “Detective” gets people from the audience to ask questions of the characters. The Detective is also able to reveal new evidence “as it comes to hand”. I’ve done this a couple of times and it works well.

    Glow In The Dark – my favourite glow in the dark game is Volleyball. Get a large, opaque beachball and push about 10 or so of the really thin glow sticks through the valve (make sure the sticks are activated first). The ball itself will give off a great glow. Clear beach balls don’t work as well.

  2. Hey mate, great games.

    One of the ones that really worked well with the youth at my church was a game called breakin – a modification on spotto. Basically 2 teams, each start with a clue that leads to another clue hidden in the church. They have to “break-in” (through the already open windows and doors…), get the next clue and get out of there. To stop them are our “security guard” leaders who are patrolling the church with torches – they get caught they head back outside to jail for 15 seconds and off they go again.
    Anyways – 5 clues each team, and a final prize. Need 10 people on each team at least.

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