4 Go-To Games for Socially Distant Youth Ministry

Becky Gilbert
November 2nd, 2020

Covid-19 has tested the collective creativity of youth pastors everywhere! We have searched far and wide to find socially distant ways to be together with our youth and while it has been 9 months, it seems that in some areas we still have a long way to go.

If you are anything like me, I read any and every article, blog and Facebook post that has anything to do with games that can be made into socially distant activities for our youth group. 

I have curated some ideas that I have found in Facebook ministry groups, through google searches and even some books that are sitting on the shelf in my office.

(I know… old school, I had some time on my hands the last few months)

Anyway, I do not claim these as my own ideas but I have tested all of them. I have used with my group and they have been a hit! Even if they don’t work in your context, maybe they will spur some ideas that will work!

First things first…Get outside!

We were able to begin doing outdoor games as early as July (we are in South Florida- one of the hot spots) because we had outdoor space. 

Most experts agree that outdoor activities are safer than indoor.

So, when possible, move outside. If you live in an area where it is too cold or if it rains a lot- try to get access to a fellowship hall or big room. The more room the better, not just for the games but for circulation and for staying 6 feet apart. 

Modified sports are great for team building, to encourage your non-athletic students to participate and to keep the youth socially distant.

Here’s our 4 go-to games for us that have been fantastic for our students during the pandemic ministry:

Laundry Basket Kickball

It is super fun and really EASY to get together.

  • Have your youth B.Y.O.B. (bring your own basket).
  • The Dollar Store has lots of small baskets if you want to pick up a few, just in case.
  • Then you play just like kickball, except the youth use the baskets to catch and throw the ball. 
  • Pitching is a bit tricky with the basket so we assigned one youth to be all -time pitcher, that way only one person touched ball. (you could also use wipes to clean the ball between innings). 

Beach Blanket Volleyball

How to play:

  • The youth hold a beach towel or a blanket on the corners and together, they use the towel to get the volleyball (beach ball) over the net.
  • This one can be played with regular volleyball rules or get creative and have the teams pass the ball on their side of the net to each group before sending it over. 

Super easy and fast to explain.

Box Hockey

How to play:

  • The youth are in a box. The box can be an actual box or a box drawn on the ground with chalk or tape.
  • The students must remain in the box while playing a hockey/soccer type game. (you can set the rules according to your context)
  • They use a beach ball and pool noodles to hit the ball toward their goal.
  • To mix it up a bit, you can yell switch at random times and the youth must go to a different box. Adding another ball can also add to the fun!

Front Door Nerf War

This is a game I found online and it was HUGE with our group. If you were on Facebook at all this summer, I am sure you saw pictures of groups playing this! Many variations to this game which makes it a good game for almost any setting.

How to play:

  • hide some prizes (gift cards, snacks, socks, games etc.) somewhere near the front door of your church or a leader’s house
  • Then on your signal, the youth begin to search for the items.
  • While they are searching, other adult leader’s use Nerf guns to keep them away from the prizes. 
  • This can be played in rounds or just one free for all type of game.
  • Water guns and Nerf guns can also be used for great tag games or if you have more time, set up bunkers and hiding places like paintball, but with Nerf guns.
  • Divide up the youth into teams and set time limits for trying to tag the other team members with nerf or water guns. 

Don’t make the mistake of reading a game and saying – we don’t have any outside space we can’t do that. Look at your space and think about how the game could be played. 

And no matter what, games are always modified based on how your group would best connect with the game experience.

Take these ideas and be inspired for how you can best utilize your opportunities, space, and resources to have fun with your students!

Becky Gilbert

Becky Gilbert is youth and children's pastor at First UMC Homestead, FL. When not planning and leading activities at church she likes to spend time with her three kids, Hunter, Hudson and Harlowe exploring theme parks and the beach.

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.