For most youth groups, putting events together greatly depends on the amount of money that event is going to cost. I have worked in youth groups that had no money, some money and plenty of money for events. I have dealt with students who never had to worry about an event cost to students who could never afford any event. I have run events that ranged from free to $30,000 plus. I love putting events together and seeing them accomplished.
I want my blog to be a place for everyone to get some help with youth ministry or personally, so today I am giving you my cheap thrills list of events. This events are free or really cheap (sometimes a relative term). These events can be good for any size group.
- Camping - find a close state park, grab some tents and head out for the night. The rental on tent lots is usually less than $10. Bring a football, Frisbee, marshmallows and you are all set for a great night of hanging out and building relationships with students. [National Parks]
- Video Scavenger Hunt/Mall Hunt - Most of your students have cell phones that have either photo or video capability, so needed video cameras isn't necessary. Think of some landmarks in your area, or some silly task for your students to do (ie Have your name paged over the loud speaker of a local grocery store), add some points to it and give away a silly prize. The Mall Hunt is easier because you are in a confined area, but the Video Scavenger Hung gives you more options.
- Movie Night/Game Night - visit your local blockbuster, grab some popcorn and just hang out for the night at the church or a students house. Or you can just grab some board games, setup some tables and play. This leads to a very relaxing time to just hang out and visit each other. Word of caution: always pre-screen EVERY movie you watch and make sure it is appropriate. [Pluggedin Online]
- Hens & Roosters - this is our girls and guys night out. We separate each group and let them go off and do their own thing. The girls usually do some makeup/pedicure/movie thing at the home of one of the female adult leaders and the guys can raid the house of the student with the best video game system. This night has great opportunity to be creative
- TPing Senior Pastors house - if you are a brave soul and your senior pastor loves practical jokes, then go for it. The students will love it. Just make sure to have your resume up to date and have hit Youthspecialities.com to look for a new job.
There are tons of things you can do with a group of students. Some other ideas could be bowling, roller skating, hanging out at the local mall, heading to a downtown area or renting laser tag equipment. We had laser tag at our church last week. It cost us $10 per unit and we rented 30 units, we then charged each student $20 to play (we included food). The students loved it and we saved money versus going to an actual laser tag place. We had so much fun.
When planning events, here are a few tips to remember.
- Make sure to go through the entire event in your head to make sure you have all the bases covered, especially when talking about over night events like lock-ins or camping. I know there has been times when I thought I had everything planned out only to miss a couple hours of dead air times where the students weren't sure what to do and I wasn't sure what to do.
- Plan for more students than you expect. It is easier to cancel than it is to try to scramble to find a place to go. Adults have no problems with me canceling them from an event but getting them at the last minute is like pulling teeth.
- Add a cushion into your cost for unexpected expenses.
- Be flexible - don't plan out every minute of an event and expect students to follow. As much as we plan, there is always some student who is slower/had to go to the bathroom. Build in a little time cushion
- Always arrive home when you said you would. A major pet peeve of most parents is that organizations (school, church, scouts, etc) never return when they say. I have had many compliments from parents when I arrive back on time. If you are going to be late, use cell phone technology to have all the students call their parents as soon as you know you are going to be late. Parents appreciate it.
Event planning is one of the biggest tasks that youth pastors do. Some of us are good at it, and others of us are horrible. We need to remember that we have enough trouble getting students to choose youth events over everything else in their life, so with a little prior planning and research, we can make all the events we do worth their while.