Let’s face it… starting a new school year can be tough. 

For some students, the thought of going back to school fills them with dread, regret and fear.

But knowing they will be around the friends they haven’t seen all summer can give them something to look forward to and help hem ease back into their school routine.

Use this youth group game, followed by a quick lesson on John 15:15, to remind students that it may be tempting for them to lean on their friends, but Jesus is the only one who will never fail them.

– Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth

YOUTH GROUP BACK-TO-SCHOOL GAME

DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF THIS GAME

Written by Carrie Busch

Bible: John 15:15

Bottom Line: It may be tempting to lean on your friends, but Jesus is the only one who will never fail you.

SUPPLIES

  • Timer
  • Tape
  • 8 – 10 orange cones (any size)
  • Dress-up clothes (suspenders, coat, wigs, pants, etc.)
  • 10 Tennis balls
  • Bucket
  • Candy for winners

GAME PREP

Divide students into pairs.

The students will remain in these pairs for the entire game unless you decide to switch it up and play the game a second time and choose new pairings.

Each pair of students will be timed as they attempt each obstacle that you’ve laid out. 

The catch? They must lean on each other, back-to-back, for every obstacle.

The pair that has the fastest time on each obstacle wins.

If the pair breaks contact, they need to start the challenge over again while the timer continues to run.

Obstacle #3 will need two sets of clothing items – one set for each person.

Note: Time obstacles separately so that you can give have multiple winners.

You can also have an overall winner – whichever pair finished the most obstacles in the shortest amount of time.

Again, these obstacles should be designed with difficulty in mind.

In other words, it should be challenging for students to lean on one another (back-to-back) while completing the obstacles.

This will reinforce the spiritual truth that we’ll discuss after the game is over.

To make sure it’s not too easy, you may want to practice this with other adults at the church (plus, it would be fun).

If the obstacles seem “too easy,” simply make small alterations to increase difficulty.

HOW TO PLAY THE GAME

Obstacle 1: Back-to-Back Race

Use floor tape to make a straight line about the width of a bowling lane (one piece of tape for each side of the lane) across the room.

At the end of the lane, place a finish line perpendicular to the lane.

Place the two items of clothing at the beginning of the lane.

How to play:

Record the time for each pair of students as they run down the lane as quickly as possible by leaning back-to-back against each other. 

To increase difficulty, require the students to keep one shoe on the lane tape at all times. 

The student on the left have to be touching the left lane, and the student on the right has to be touching the right lane. 

This will force them to inch-worm their way down the lane while leaning back-to-back.

Obstacle 2: Back-to-Back Cone Challenge

Place eight to ten cones in a straight line.

Tape a finish line at the end of the row of cones.

How to play:

Record the time for each pair of students as they weave in and out without touching the cones, as they attempt to reach the finish line.

The team with the fastest time wins!

Remember… backs must be touching (as with all of these obstacles) during the entire challenge.

To increase difficulty, blindfold one person in each group and make the other person shout out directions as they complete the obstacle.

Obstacle 3: Dress-up Time

Create another lane (distance does not matter) and, at the end, place two sets of dress-up clothes.

You could even make a “balance beam” line – instead of two lanes to make up one lane.

How to play:

Record the time for each pair of students as they travel as fast as they can down the lane (or balance beam line) and dress up in all of the clothes that are laid out for them, all while staying back-to-back. 

The pair without the lowest time wins!

To increase difficulty: Add the challenge of making the pair switch shoes with one another.

Obstacle 4: Overhead Toss

Find an open area where students can throw tennis balls.

If you want to create a circle for this activity, you can do so with the floor tape, but it’s not necessary.

Place a bucket filled with tennis balls in the center of the area.

How to play:

Have the pair of students stand in the center of the area next to the bucket.

Before the obstacle begins, have the pair decide which one of them should be the thrower and which one should be the catcher.

When you say “GO,” the pair of students should attempt to make ten successful throws/catches.

The team with the shortest time wins!

The Winner’s Circle:

Have a little fun with this back-to-school game by announcing the winners in each obstacle category and giving out candy.

Considering giving awards for categories like “Most Wobbly Pair” or “Most Time Spent on the Ground.” 

That way, everyone is part of celebrating the new school year with fun and candy. 

TEACH

Say: In today’s game, we “leaned” on each other a lot.

But, as you probably noticed, there were quite a few trips, falls, and hard landings.

As we head back to school, it may be tempting to lean on the people surrounding us, specifically the people we spend time with all day, every day.

However, human relationships (despite how much of a blessing some of them can be to us) can fail us.

We may feel hurt, betrayed, and even rejected by others.

We may grow distant from some friends while befriending others.

No matter what happens, we should always be grateful for the friendships that God has given us, and we should show love to every person we encounter.

None of the friendships in our lives can compare with the one-of-a-kind friendship that a believer finds in Christ.

Read John 15:15.

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. 

Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

In our scripture today, we read the words of Jesus to His disciples.

And if you follow Jesus, you are a disciple too.

Jesus has given us an incredible opportunity not just to serve him, but to be called a “friend of God.”

This relationship, above all, should be the one that you nurture throughout this school year and every year.

DOWNLOAD THE PDF OF THIS GAME

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