Saturday, February 2, 2013

Theme Night: Gross!

(Copyright © 2011 The Zondervan Corporation)
Sorry I'm late on this one, folks! This theme went over really well when we did it, and I'd be willing to do it again--gross always goes over really well, especially with middle school!

Intention: This night is designed to teach students to serve others, regardless of the task. Students should leave the activities with an enhanced understanding of humility.

Setting the Stage: There are several ways to make this night a success. A big thing about themed nights, though, is advertising. Come up with a name or catch phrase (ex. “Fear Factor”, “Gross Night”, or “Mucky, Messy Christianity”), publicize them the theme, or post pictures around church and Facebook--it's a sort of teaser to catch their interest. It helps them want to know what you're talking about.

Activities: As I'm sure you've noticed, youth groups have varying dynamics, so different groups enjoy different activities. For example, the youth group I work with had an average weekly turnout of about 5-10 students (10 was a good week) last semester. The activities that worked best here were trivia, mixer activities (such as "Train Wreck"), and relays. Activities that did not work as well were up-front games with just a few students participating. However, the youth group I was involved in during my freshman to junior years in high school worked quite well with up-front or highly competitive games. Therefore, I have compiled an assortment of games and activities to mix and match as needed.

1.     Messy Twister: This really is MESSY! I found it on Pinterest (linked from The rules are the same as regular twister, but each spot on the game mat is covered in paint.
o    Note! Students should be warned ahead of time to bring paint-able clothes, and some extras should be provided for those students who missed the memo. I would also recommend using washable paint. Obviously.
2.     Bobbing for Turds: This up-front/exhibition game was a hit with our students this year! We filled a couple small, clear plastic totes with water and yellow food coloring/“pee” and then dropped in fun-sized Snickers bars/“turds”. (We split a bag evenly between the two totes.)Two brave students knelt down in front of the totes and had to collect as many “turds” as they could in a minute. (This game is essentially Bobbing for Apples, but more disgusting.)
o    Note! Warm water is more effective for the gross factor.
o    Note! Large Tootsie Rolls work well for “turds”, also.
o    Warning! Check for allergies!!!
3.     Shooting Loogies: This game can be done as a group competition or up-front/exhibition style. Necessary items are olives (or anchovies, or anything else that is small and gross-smelling/tasting—these are your “loogies”) and something to cover the floor (because, as fitting with the night’s theme, it’s gross and messy). Participating students place a “loogie” in their mouth and spit it (using realistic loogie-spitting sounds, if desired!) as far across the designated area as possible.
o    Note! Targets to spit at could also be effective!
o    Warning! Check for allergies!!!
4.     Guess the Food: An up-front/exhibition activity, this game rarely fails to inspire laughter. It requires one or more brave student (or leader, if preferred) to sit in the front of the room blindfolded. An assortment of foods (the grosser, the better) is then fed to or touched by the volunteer/s, who must guess what it is.
o    Suggested foods: Anchovies, olives, cold spaghetti noodles, peeled grapes, cottage cheese
o    Warning! Check for allergies (especially if feeding rather than touching)!
5.     Trivia: We use this activity every week, and it never gets old—always requested by the students. We split the students into teams (we never have enough for more than two teams, although it would be very do-able if you had the numbers) and presented a PowerPoint of multiple choice trivia questions related to the theme. For Gross Night, we used “Weird and Gross Bible Trivia”—a huge hit, as our students knew very few of the semi-obscure and often-disgusting passages found primarily in the Old Testament. Each team had an opportunity for five points to guess the answer without any multiple choice prompts. If the first team to guess answered incorrectly, the second team could answer 

Bringing It Together: I’ve seen several youth messages that go well with this particular theme. When we planned this night, we told the volunteer who was to give the message that the theme was “Fear Factor”. He had never heard of the television show Fear Factor (a fact which was not discovered until the evening activities were to begin) but wrote the message on “fear” and how the fear of the Lord overcomes the fear of earthly things. The Lord certainly worked through the message!

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