Facebook Places as a Youth Group Game

Youth Specialties
August 19th, 2010

Facebook Places

There are a lot of people cheering the release of Facebook Places today. 

With more than 500 million active Facebook users and the rapid expansion of GPS-enabled smart phones hitting the adolescent market, there's a good chance youth workers will need to take notice. 

Let me say that again. 

The industry that Facebook Places fits into is called location based social media. (LBSM)

Now, I'm sure that within the next few days there will be a whole slew of news stories about how dangerous LBSM coming to Facebook is. Without a doubt there is an editor at a major newspaper putting already sending a team of researchers to find a story of how teenagers are going to use Facebook Places for secret sex hook-ups or to sell drugs or dangerous flashmobs or everyones favorite teenage scapegoat, the underground party. OK, that's a rant for another day. 

I'd like to beat those bad news stories to the punch by sparking your creativity with a simple, fun, and free way to use Facebook Places in your youth group. 

5 Ways to Use Facebook Spaces as a Youth Group Game

  1. Scavenger hunts – Give your group a list of things to find within a shopping center or neighborhood, then cut them loose with some leaders and have them check-in when they find items. A twist would be to plant a bunch of items in your community for them to take pictures of as part of their check-in. I'm a big fan of gnomes. But cardboard cut-outs or stuffed animals would be fun, too. Yet another twist would be to have them do a can collection drive and check-in at all the houses that give. 
  2. Road rally – This is an old school staple, with a twist. Print out a list of clues and a block of time. As they go from clue to clue you can assign points by the order they check-in. First team gets 1000 points, second team 750, third team 500, each additional team 100. You could also add bonus points for obscure clues or check-ins if they get also post a picture with a non-playing member of the church. Also within this category of check-in game, you could do an Amazing Race theme by requiring teams to go through an obstacle or complete a challenge before checking in. 
  3. Check-in Olympics – This would work best in a suburban or urban area. Break into three teams and assign each team a category of places to check-in. (Fast food joints, gas stations, coffee shops.) Teams earn points by checking into as many places in their category as possible in the given time window. (2 hours would probably work best) Then add strategy to the game by making the more rare places worth more points. So, they'd get 100 points for a McDonald's but 1000 for an In-n-Out. That way they'd have to chose to try to hit all the big and obvious places and earn lots of places or just go for the big ones. You could also add a twist by assigning each category a secret, sealed location. At the end of the game you would unseal the envelop and award bonus points to the team that checked in there. 
  4. Crazy Costume Check-in – You could expand the time window to a whole day, week, or mission trip by challenging teams to check-in creatively at places. For instance, a group could check-in at a KFC all dressed as chickens. Or they could all check-in at Wal*Mart dressed as smiley faces. You get the idea. Somehow there is a BIgger or Better tie-in.
  5. Hide-n-seek – Malls and other public venues are sensitive to these types of things, so you'd have to be careful where and how you did it. But it would be really cool if you played a massive game of hide-n-seek. You could assign the food court as the jail and require that each pair or team check-in at every store they go into. The person who is “it” could keep refreshing their Facebook news feed to see where teams are at. The last team caught would be “it” for the next round. There's lots of variations to this game, get creative!

What are other fun ways you can think of to use Facebook Places within a youth group setting?

Thanks to Amy Gilchrist and Ian Robertson for some ideating on this post. 

Youth Specialties

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.