Bandana’s are one of those multipurpose items that should be in every youth minister’s tool kit. They can be used as blindfolds, to replace a short length of rope, as flags and to identify teams. They can be bought in bulk relatively cheaply or if you have someone in your church with a sewing machine and a little time they can be made from a few yards of cloth or even cheap sheets. If you can’t find bandanas, you can always substitute cloth handkerchiefs, washcloths, or cloth napkins. Get enough for your entire youth group to have one each, and in different colors so they can easily be used to identify different teams.
Games using Bandanas
- Dragon’s Tail – Split the youth into several teams of approximate equal number. Each team links together into a chain by lining up one behind the other and placing their hands on the waist of the person in front of them. You can also simply have them link hands or elbows. The last person on each team is given a bandana to hang from his or her pocket as the dragon’s tail. Teams must work together to chase and capture the tails from other dragons. Only the person at the front of the chain can grab a bandana from another team. They team can twist around to try to protect their own dragon’s tail but they are not allowed to disconnect. Once a team’s bandana has been taken or they disconnect, their dragon is dead and the team is out. The last team standing or the team with the most bandanas wins. If you are adverse to the idea of a dragon, you can also call it lizard’s tail.
- Capture the flag – Divide the youth into two teams, each with its own territory. Each team will have a bandana – a flag, which must be guarded by some team members while others try to grab the opponent’s flag. If an opponent is in your territory, you can tag them and send them to jail – a designated area where prisoners are kept. Players must stay in jail until one of their own team can run in and tag them to free them. (Only one prisoner can be rescued at a time.) A team wins the game by capturing the other flag and bearing it back to their home territory.
- Barnyard – Divide the youth into two or more teams and assign an animal to each team (ie: pig, cat, cow, dog, duck, horse, monkey, owl, rooster, sheep, snake, etc.) Blindfold one youth from each team and have them stand in the center of the room. Send each team into a different corner or area of the room. On your signal each team makes the sound of its animal and the youth in the center must find their team. First to do so wins. Or, give everyone a blindfold and a pice of paper with an animal. On your signal they must group themselves together by team using only the sounds of their animals. DEBRIEF: How did you recognise your group? In what ways do others recognise us as Christians?
- Foxtails – Each youth is given a bandana (a foxtail) that must be put in his or her back pocket (or sticking out of their pants). At least 2/3 of the bandana must be sticking out and no knots can be tied in the bandana. The play area can be marked off or can simply be a room and when someone is eliminated that must stay touching the wall of the room at all times. Each player’s goal is to grab as many other foxtails from other youth as possible without losing his or her own foxtail. You aren’t allowed to guard your foxtail or otherwise use your hands to keep people from grabbing your foxtail. Turning and twisting your body is allowed and of course running away. If a player’s foxtail is taken, that player must then go to the sidelines. S/he may stand on the sidelines and grab foxtails as players run by, but may not step back into the game. The last person still standing in with their foxtail intact is the winner. Variation: Instead of going to the sidelines, players must immediately stop and place the foxtail on the ground and place a foot on it. They can keep playing, but must keep their foot on the foxtail at all times – only pivoting in a circle.
- Bandana Relay – For this game you’ll not only need a bandana for each team (4-10 persons on a team), but also a marble and paper cup for each team as well. Each person on the team must hold onto the bandana with both hands. The bandana must be held out straight and flat forming a makeshift tabletop. The paper cup is then balanced upside down on the bandana and a marble is perched on top of the cup. Most paper cups will have a small rim around the bottom so the marble won’t simply roll off. The objective is for a team to work together to move the marble from one point to another, navigating any obstacles along the way, without dropping the marble. If marble rolls off the cup, the team must start over. First team to the goal line wins. Variations: Place obstacles in the path of the groups such as a tables or chairs, force them to go through doorways, up stairs, or under a table.
- Blind Lineup – Give each youth a bandana to use as a blindfold, and then ask the group to put order themselves from the the shortest to the tallest in order fo height.
- Sherpa Walk – In this game, youth are paired up and one person is blindfolded and led to a previously designated location. The focus is not on speed but on trust and safety. The guide cannot touch the blindfolded person but must lead them using only verbal commands. As a variation you can also require three tasks along the way such as to smell something, to touch something, to identify an object, to eat something, etc. DEBRIEF: What spiritual truths are illustrated by the way we have to watch what each person is doing so that we can warn them about things in their path or compensate for them as they go through their journey. Sometimes they may not even see what lies before them? How can we help them navigate life?
- Knots with bandanas – In the normal game of knots, people simply hold hands, but in this variation they will hold on to a bandana between each person. The easiest way to set up this game is to use a series of instructions: 1. Everyone stand in a circle holding hands. Drop your hands and then extend your right hand into the circle holding your bandana. Reach into the circle with your left hand and grab the bandana of another person. You may not grab the bandana of someone who is already holding your bandana nor can it be the person on your left or right. Now get untangled without letting go of the Bandanas you are holding. It’s Ok if some end up facing outward and sometimes you may end up with more than one circle. Variation: Complete the task without talking. DEBRIEF: Sometimes in life things get a little tangled, a little confused. Sometimes we need to straighten things out before we can move forward. What are some lessons we can learn from this game when we find life a and circumstances a bit complicated?
- Flag Football – Play a game of flag football using bandanas as the flags. The same rules of football apply, however there is no tackling allowed. To stop the ball moving forward a player removes another players bandana from their back pocket.
- Blindfold Challenge: Challenge the youth to compete a difficult task while blindfolded. This could be to wrap a gift, build the tallest tower, or to put a small puzzle together. Allow the team to help the blindfolded person with verbal instructions only.
A Game with a Lesson
This game is similar to foxtails, but with a twist. If you use this game, you may not want to use the foxtails game. The only difference is that instead of calling it a foxtail, you say only the following: “This bandana represents everything you need to live in the world (Food, shelter, love, safety, etc.) If your bandana is taken away, you die instantly and are out of the game.” Without any further explanation, the leader says, “On your marks, get set, go.” Usually, the youth will all run around and take each others bandanas. When only one person is left alive, ask what happened, repeat the rules, and start another round. Keep the rounds going. Someone will pick up on the idea that they don’t need to die and that they cannot use more than what they already have. Soon the idea catches on. Some participants may even form alliances to protect one another. Follow-up discussion can center on themes of greed, persecution, wise use of what we are given, social justice, God’s provision, evil in the world, the garden of Eden, etc.
A Game with a Lesson
This game is basically the same as the Bandana Relay but with an added twist. If you use this game, you may not want to use the Bandana Relay game. The main difference is that you now inform the youth that the marble is a vary valuable but very toxic substance that can cure many of the world’s diseases when processed correctly. But in its raw form it will kill anyone who touches it. People are dying and if you can deliver this successfully you will save millions. You set up the bandanas on a table in advance with the cup and marble on top. Ready to Go. You can also replace the marble with a cup full of water or one full of beans. Everyone must hold the platform with both hands. The platform must remain flat and stretched tight at all times. Follow up discussion can be about sin and the cost to Christ to save the world, bringing the gospel to the world, obstacles to the gospel, helping those in need, and communication. DEBRIEF: What could the cup full of vaccine be a symbol of? It makes a nice picture of the gospel. What could the obstacles be? What things cause us to not get the gospel to the people who are dying without it? What kinds of things do we need to communicate as a body of believers so that the gospel isn’t hindered?
TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL
MAKE IT SPIRITUAL
Regardless of the games you use, you can talk about faith, trust, communication, and working together.
Here are some General Debrief Questions
- LEARNING FROM OTHERS – Some of you observed what other groups were doing and learned from them. What advantage do you have in learning from others that go before you? Spiritually who has gone before us? How can we learn from them?
- TEAMWORK – In many of these games, you had to work together to accomplish the given task. How does this related to the church, the youth group and to spiritual issues?
- COMMUNICATION – Communication was an essential ingredient. Sometimes communication was limited which hindered you in accomplishing the task. How does communication or lack of it affect our efforts in spiritual matters and in helping others? Why is it important to communicate our needs and also listen to the communication of others?
- BALANCE – Some of the games involved balance. What made moving and balancing difficult? How is that like life?
- PERSEVERANCE – When you faced challenges, how did your group persevere and solve the problem? Are perseverance and patience essential skills in solving the problems in our youth group, the church, and in the world today?
- RULES – There were rules we needed to follow. What is the purpose of the rules? What is the result of not listening or learning the rules, or of breaking the rules? How does this relate to the Word of God?
MAKE IT PRACTICAL
- What are some lessons and truths we learned from today’s games?
MAKE IT PERSONAL
- How can you apply these lessons and truths in your walk with Christ and in serving others this week?
ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURE VERSES
- 2 Timothy 2:2 – “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (See Also Hebrews 12:1-13)
- Ephesians 5:15 – “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,”
- 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
- Colossians 3:16-17 – “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
- Philippians 1:6 – “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
- 1 Timothy 4:16 – “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
- Romans 5:3-8 – “Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”
- 2 Timothy 2:15 – “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
200 page e-book that explains everything you need to know when planning your very own object lessons. It contains 90 fully developed object lesson ideas and another 200 object lesson starter ideas based on Biblical idioms and Names / Descriptions of God.
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