“Capture the Flag” is a youth ministry classic!

This extreme version of the game has lots of twists and turns that make it even more interesting, and hopefully, more fun for your students.

Use this just-for-fun youth group game followed by a quick lesson to encourage students to have their “Best Summer Ever” as they grow in their relationships with God and others. 

P.S. – Unlike most of the games we post on our website, this one does not include a Biblical lesson. It’s more of a setup to a lesson that you can create on your own or add to an existing one.

– Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth

YOUTH SUMMER GAME: EXTREME CAPTURE THE FLAG

DOWNLOAD PDF OF THIS GAME

Written by Ryan Blanck

SUPPLIES

  • Two matching objects to be used as team flags (these could be hats, bandanas, t-shirts, etc.)
  • A BUNCH of wiffle balls or Nerf balls (or even water balloons if you are feeling adventurous)
  • A backpack
  • A pair of binoculars
  • A box of band-aids
  • A cell phone

GAME PREP

Scatter the wiffle balls/Nerf balls/water balloons all over the game area (outside) ahead of time. 

Or, you can start the game with them all supplies in one central location (similar to the “Cornucopia” in The Hunger Games).

Divide the group into two even teams.

HOW TO PLAY THE GAME

The goal of the game is to capture the other team’s flag and return it to a designated place (perhaps the youth room).

This game is similar to Capture the Flag, but changes some rules to make it more interesting and (hopefully) more fun. 

Unlike Capture the Flag, there are no sides and no jails. 

The entire play area is open play and a player can be “tagged” (hit with a wiffle ball/Nerf ball/water balloon) anywhere in the play area.

Each team hides their flag somewhere in the game area. 

The flag must be visible and must be reachable. 

Each team may have one person guard the flag, but that person can be no less than ten paces away from the flag.

On “GO,” teams try to capture the other team’s flag and bring it back to the designated place to win the game.

Players may gather as much “ammo” (wiffle balls, nerf balls, water balloons) as they can find and carry.

Players “tag” an opponent by hitting them with a wiffle ball/Nerf ball/water balloon.

If a player is tagged, they must freeze, drop any ammo they are carrying, and recite the Lord’s Prayer before resuming play – it doesn’t matter too much what they recite, the point is for them to freeze for about 5 seconds. 

Other players (from either team) may try to grab the ammo that the tagged player dropped.

If a player finds the other team’s flag, they must make it to the designated area before being tagged. 

They may hand off the flag to another player on their team to avoid losing the flag if they are in danger of being tagged.

If a player with the flag is tagged, he must hand over the flag to the other team.

The other team has 10 seconds to re-hide the flag; the player re-hiding the flag may not be tagged during these 10 seconds.

The team that is able to get the other team’s flag back to the designated area is the winner.

TEACH

Before you begin the TEACH portion, put the binoculars, band-aid, and cell phone in the backpack and set it to the side of wherever you are teaching from. 

These items are your visual aids for the message.

Ask: What are you most looking forward to about this summer?

Describe your ideal summer day. 

What would you do? Where would you go? Who would you spend the day with?

How do you hope to grow in your relationship with Jesus this summer?

Allow a few responses from students after each question.

Summer vacation can be an exciting and fun-filled time for teenagers. 

You get about a two-month break from the responsibilities of school. 

No homework. 

No tests to study for. 

No waking up early. Summer is – or at least it should be – a time of fun and relaxation. 

And as Christians, it can also be a time of great spiritual growth. 

You can build strong relationships through fellowship with other believers. 

You can spend time reading the Bible or devotional books. 

And, of course, summer just isn’t summer without going off to youth camp (take this opportunity to advertise any camps or retreats your youth group is attending).

So, as we all get ready for two months of sleeping in and having fun, I want to pause a moment and offer you some advice on how to make this the Best Summer Ever.

Grab the backpack with the visual aids.

If you are going to have the Best Summer Ever, there are probably some things we should put into our backpack, things that will help us have a great summer. 

Ask: What are some things that you might need to have a great summer? 

Take answers from the group. 

Hopefully, students will say things like a Bible, a beach towel and swimsuit, some money, a good book to read, etc.

But before we can put those necessary items into our backpack, we need to clean out and get rid of things to make room for them. 

You know, like you do at the end of the school year? 

You clean out your backpack and find a note from like October that you were supposed to have your parents sign; anyone ever do that?

Well, let’s see what’s in our backpack that we need to get rid of. 

Open the backpack and take out the binoculars. 

The first thing in here is a set of binoculars. 

How many of you carry these things around with you? Anyone? 

Even though not many of you carry around an actual pair of binoculars with you every day, some of you might carry around a metaphorical set of binoculars.

We all know what binoculars are used for, right? 

We use them to look at things from a distance. 

Perhaps you’ve been to a ballgame and sat in the cheap seats and used binoculars to get a close-up view of what’s happening on the field. 

Or maybe you’ve been hiking and you used them to look at wildlife from a distance so that you don’t disturb them or frighten them. 

Well, binoculars are good in those situations, but sometimes we use our metaphorical binoculars to keep our distance from other people or activities. 

We’d rather just sit in the corner or stay on the edges of the group rather than be fully involved and engaged in what is happening. 

It might be a fear of embarrassing ourselves or the fear of a new situation, but whatever it is, it is keeping us from fully engaging and having the Best Summer Ever.

So, my first piece of advice is to ditch the binoculars and enjoy your summer up close. 

Get involved in _______ (fill in the blank with your summer youth activities).

Don’t just be a spectator – Get out there and be engaged!

The second thing we need to get rid of is these band-aids.

Take out the band-aids.

Again, we are not talking about real band-aids. 

In fact, if you fully engage in all the amazing activities happening this summer, you might end up with a few cuts or bruises. 

No, I’m talking about the metaphorical injuries we might have, the ones no one sees.  

We live in a fallen, sinful world and people get hurt. 

They get their hearts broken. 

They suffer hurts and pains that no one sees.

If that describes you, I have two things to say to you… 

First, God sees your pain and sees your tears. 

And God wants to heal that pain and wipe away those tears. 

It might not happen in a miraculous moment, but God will heal and restore your broken heart. 

The second thing I want to say to you is not to let you pains from the past hinder your present and future. 

If you have been hurt in the past, you might be fearful of being hurt again. 

But God doesn’t want that. 

Jesus promised to give us an abundant life, and we shouldn’t let our fears of getting hurt again prevent us from experiencing that.

There is a story in the Gospels of Jesus healing a crippled man who would lie around by this public pool. 

When Jesus healed him, Jesus told the man to pick up his mat and go home. 

What is important about that command to pick up his mat? 

Jesus wanted the man to cut his ties to that pool and all it represented. 

Jesus didn’t want the man to be tempted to go back there and back to his old way of life. 

In the same way, we need to take off the band-aid, so to speak, and not allow the hurts of our past to get in the way of the present God has for us.

The final thing we need to remove from our backpack is this… (take out the cell phone)

Now, before you start throwing the leftover ammo from our Capture the Flag game, give me a chance to explain this one. 

Like the other two objects, I’m not talking about actually getting rid of your cell phones, but I’m using the phone as a symbol of something else.

In some ways, my advice about the cell phone is similar to the advice I gave you about the binoculars. 

I believe that our cell phones are great for keeping us connected to each other. 

It’s so much easier to get ahold of someone if you have some urgent news to give them. 

And our phones allow us to keep in touch with our friends and family that we don’t see every day, especially now during the summer.

But even though our phones are great at keeping us connected, they also get in the way of real relationships and real experiences. 

They create a false sense of relational closeness. 

We follow our friends on Instagram or Snapchat, and we like their posts, but how often do we actually talk to them? 

And I don’t mean texting or messaging, but have an actual conversation where we open our mouths and words come out. 

And when you are sitting there, having a face-to-face conversation with somebody, put the phone away. 

Give them your full attention. 

You can catch up on your socials later, there’s plenty of time for that. 

But for those moments when you’re spending time with the people you love, don’t let your phone be a distraction.

So, in closing, let me just say that I hope you have the Best Summer Ever. 

I hope you do a lot of fun things and go to some really cool places. 

I hope you make new friends and strengthen relationships with old friends. 

And most importantly, I hope you grow in your relationship with Christ. 

May you grow in your faith and knowledge of Jesus.

But don’t let these things that we found in the backpack get in the way of your amazing summer. 

Don’t be a spectator. 

Don’t let your past hurts make you afraid to experience the present. 

And don’t stay so glued to your phone screen that you miss out on the experiences right in front of you.

Close in prayer.

DOWNLOAD PDF OF THIS GAME

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YOUTH GROUP GAME ON JOY

2 thoughts on “SUMMER GAME: EXTREME CAPTURE THE FLAG

  • June 17, 2019 at 10:06 pm
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    Thank you for this idea!! I bought some of your summer units and will do a couple of them on Wednesday nights and in Sunday school (taking a break from our usual SS curriculum for summer) but am kicking off the summer this Wednesday and wanted something different. This will be PERFECT! And your timing is perfect: halfway through what was supposed to be a short day at the office, a chaperone for camp next week texted and said she can’t go nor can she drive 6 of our passengers. “Freaking out” is an understatement! I spent a good part of my day with that instead of prepping for Wednesday’s lesson. It has been a long and stressful 10-hour workday. But!!! Praise His Holy name! God knew you were sending this. And He also sent answers to my Camp dilemma. Thank you for all you do for us.

    Reply

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