Scripture Memory for Kids

I have an acronym for scripture memory that I use at camps: MVOTW. It stands for “Memory Verse of the Week.” You pronounce it, “muh-vah-twuh.” Kids love saying it and we put motions to the words to help us remember whatever verse we are working on. Most camps and vacation Bible schools have a theme verse or main verse for the week. So I review that verse multiple times a day with the kids. I have found it to be a very effective way to teach kids how to memorize Scripture. One year, some girls recited a MVOTW to me that they had learned two or three years prior. They still remembered the words and the motions.

So if you lead your kids in a MVOTW, put some motions to each word or phrase (try to put in some or all American Sign Language if you can). Then quote the scripture reference, and finish it off with a hearty, “muh-vah-twuh!” It works. Trust me.

Here is a video of a group doing the MVOTW at Highland Lakes Camp in Texas last summer:

 

Bring Me Game Ideas

What do you do when you have a room full of children causing havoc (or could potentially do so) and need to engage them in a way that is both fun and simple to execute? Well, education is a good idea. But perhaps you’ve taught and they’ve learned all day and it’s time to kick back and play a good old-fashioned group game.

Play the “Bring Me” Game!

The Bring Me Game concept is simple and the variations are endless. You, the game leader, should stand up front with a microphone (or not if your group is small enough) and ask for random objects/items. I’ve got a list to get you going below.

The first person or group or team to produce the requested item and bring it to you gets a point for their team. WARNING: Kids tend to RUN a lot in this game. So make sure you remind them to not trample one another or trip over anything in their effort to bring the items up to you. You can decide how long to play (such as “first team to ten points wins”).

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One major thing to keep in mind when playing the game and coming up with ideas is the fact that nearly everyone has a device these days (even youth). If you’re at an event where most everyone has a device on them or at least some representatives of each team (such as adults in mostly-kid events) have devices, then make the most of technology in your requests. The internet is an endless supply of “scavenger-hunt” challenges. Just ask for a picture of BB-8 from Star Wars or a map of the country of Malaysia or any other fun idea they can search for.

The types of things you call up will vary depending on the size and the average age of your group. For example, not many kids will have a credit card on them if you ask for one. So be creative with ideas that fit what you think is out there in everyone’s pockets, purses, and accessories.

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Here is a list of ideas to get you going. You can come up with your own ideas by thinking of other things similar to or related to items on this list.

  • two different shoelaces tied together
  • five different socks bundled up in a ball
  • a selfie on a device
  • a photograph of exactly ten people on a device
  • something edible
  • chocolate
  • something that has a picture of a rainbow on it
  • a double-A battery and a triple-A battery
  • something that is completely blue
  • two people wearing glasses doing jumping jacks next to one another
  • two unrelated people with red hair
  • a human hair
  • a non-human living thing (this will usually be a bug or insect found on the floor)
  • lipstick
  • chapstick
  • nail clippers
  • six people forming a human pyramid
  • a red pen or marker
  • something with a disney symbol or character on it
  • two unrelated people with braces
  • a nail file
  • a one dollar bill, a five dollar bill, and a ten dollar bill (exactly)
  • a penny, a nickel, a dime, and a quarter (exactly)
  • a liquid
  • something that feels cold
  • something that feels warm
  • something that lights up (that is not a phone or tablet device)
  • ten people in a line that goes from tallest person to shortest person
  • a pencil
  • a tissue
  • a crumpled up piece of paper
  • something silver
  • something gold
  • a person wearing two different kinds of shoes
  • a rock
  • a visible piece of dust/dustball
  • something sharp (and if it is a dangerous/forbidden object, you can confiscate it 🙂
  • something conical
  • something circular
  • something in the shape of a cube
  • a ball of some sort
  • something chewable
  • five breath mints
  • three different kinds of breath mints
  • a picture on a device of the White House in Washington D.C.
  • a picture on a device of a mother and a son
  • someone who can say the alphabet backwards (for real, not someone saying, “alphabet backwards”)
  • pocket fuzz/lint
  • a device playing the United States’ National Anthem
  • a device playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata
  • a paper towel
  • a circle of exactly twelve people holding hands

I posted about this back in 2012 with more ideas you can use as well!

Please share your lists and ideas in the comments below and we can have a trove of items for people to say “Bring me……!”

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5 Fun and Easy Summer Camp Games

Millions of kids across the country are participating in some sort of summer camp experience this summer. Camp is such a meaningful time for kids because of the memories they make, the friends they meet, and the fun they have. Since I travel to many camps each summer, I get to see a lot of great camp ideas and a sampling of what works and what doesn’t work. I have also developed some of my own games and activities and have learned which ones work through trial and error.

And while many camps have plenty of planned activities throughout the day (pool time, zipline, lake time, climing wall, organized field games, etc.), it is important for leaders and volunteers to have an arsenal of back-up games in the event of rain-outs or other unforseen schedule changes (which happen more often than we think). For example, I was at a large camp in Texas a few weeks ago with about a thousand kids in attendance. Tropical Storm Bill came right through the camp on Wednesday and the kids were couped up in the cabins for much of the day. I traveled from cabin to cabin (not all of them) and led the kids in some fun activities that helped pass the time and make the day fun for them. There are also times where the kids may be waiting in line or in a room for the next activity and you as a leader want to do something fun with them until the next scheduled event. Here are some ideas for those “rain-outs” or in-between times….

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1. Heads or Tails 

I have called this “The Easiest Large Group Game Ever” and still stick to that title. All you need is a coin. And then the fun begins. You flip the coin and tell the kids to pick heads or tails before you flip it. If they’re right, they stay and play the next round. If they’re wrong, they’re out. Keep flipping until you’re down to one winner. You know who picked what by telling them all to stand up and put two hands on their head for heads and two hands on their behind for tails. If they are ever wrong, they have to sit down. Last person standing wins. A fun variation is to give each player two lives. The first time they are wrong, they have to stand on one foot. The second time they are wrong, they “lose” the other foot and therefore are forced to sit down. I don’t know why or how, but kids LOVE this game.

2. Flag Tag

This can be played indoors or outdoors. You need bandanas or flag-football flags (one per player). You wear the flags (tuck the bandanas partially into the belt area) and play tag. Create a boundary of some sort (a large circle or square) in which the players must play during the game (or else they are out). Instead of touch-tagging, the players have to pull out flags. When your flag is pulled, you must sit down in place. When you’re down, you can still pull flags from players who are still running around; you just have to stay seated and in place when you do so. I found a youtube clip that has some footage of this game, starting at 1:41 in the video and going until 1:55. There are a lot of variations on this game – such as….

  • every man for himself
  • red team vs blue team (or whatever colors you have)
  • adults vs kids
  • boys vs girl

3. Freeze Dance 

All you need is a fun song on your music player and speakers loud enough for all the kids to hear the music. Play the music, the kids have to dance. When you stop the music, the kids have to freeze. Repeat those two steps (dance, then freeze, then dance, then freeze….). I like to have a little fun with it and give the kids instructions to follow for the freeze times or the dance times. Here are some ideas….

  • play dead (for the freeze)
  • touch a friend (for the freeze)
  • touch an adult (for the freeze)
  • make a large conga line (for the dance)
  • do the shopping cart/lawnmower/sprinkler/[whatever your favorite dance] (for the dance)
  • stand on one foot (for the freeze)
  • pretend that you are your favorite animal (for the dance or the freeze)

4. Nine Square 

Many people have heard of Four Square, but Nine Square (aka Nine Square in the Air) is relatively new on the camp scene. You need a pipe apparatus that creates a three by three grid above the head height of the players. Each square is protected by a player and play starts in the middle with the “king” or “queen” and basic volleyball rules apply (one hit per person per square at a time). Instead of telling you all the rules, allow me to direct you to the 9SquareInTheAir website to read all about it. In my opinion, it is a close second to Gaga Ball in ranking the kid-favorite (and leader-favorite) games of camp these days.

5. Speaking of GaGa Ball

If you haven’t heard of this game, then either you have not been to a summer camp in over a decade or the one you go to is seriously missing out on the world’s best camp game. The set-up is the most elaborate of this list (you need to build an octagonal-walled ring) but the payoff is the greatest you will find these days in terms of how much the kids love this game. It is a form of dogeball played in a walled pit and the ball must be hit (not thrown) towards other players using an open palm and only below-the-waist hits count (which makes it much safer than traditional dogeball). Trust me….invest in a GaGa pit and watch the kids play the day away. I found some helpful links that explain the rules of the game as well as provide building materials for the pits….

 

I hope this list helps you with some camp game ideas this summer. Have fun and let me know if you have some great summer camp game ideas for others to read about!

4 Reasons Why You Should Go to a Summer Camp

The coming of Spring means summer is fast approaching. Now is the time to plan ahead (if you haven’t already) for bringing the kids in your family ministry to a summer camp. Here are 4 things I think you should know about Christian summer camps:

1. Camp is Often THE Highlight of a Kid’s Year – or Life

Kids will often remember these experiences until they day they die. Why? Because summer camp touches the deepest parts of our senses and needs in life. In my opinion, summer camp is one of the most effective forms of ministry and outreach to kids. The rest of this article will explain why I think that.

2. Taking Kids to an Exciting New World Opens Up Their Hearts and Minds

A few weeks ago, my wife and I took our toddler daughter to the local petting zoo. My daughter is 17 months old and had been cooped up indoors for much of this past winter. When she finally met the live goats and sheet (things she had only known from picture books), her face lit up, she danced, she talked incessantly, and her overall demeanor was illuminated.

This is what happens when you bring your kids to summer camp. They get away from the video games and television and finally breath fresh air in a new and wonderful place, where they can safely explore and play. This does something remarkable to their hearts, minds, and spirits. It opens them up in fresh ways that would otherwise not be opened back home on their familiar turf. It is then that we take these open hearts and show them the love of Jesus Christ.

3. Christian Camping is About “Making Space”

I once heard recording artist Michael Card share about the idea of “making space” for God to do His work in our lives and in the lives of those around us. We make space by taking Sabbaths, spending quiet times in prayer, and going to places where we remove all the clutter so that we can hear and see God more clearly. Jesus was in the business of making space for the Father to move in the lives of those around Him. Summer camp is a ministry of “making space” for God to work in these kids’ lives. We take them far away from home, give them plenty of spaces to move around and play, and then we watch as God does amazing things.

4. Summer Camp is All Over the Bible

God placed Adam and Eve in a beautiful garden, not a video arcade. God led Abraham far from his home to set up “camp” in a new promised land. Joseph left home (not by his own accord) and ended up thriving in this far-from-home atmosphere. Ruth and Naomi left their familiar home, only to find God’s blessing on their lives in their new settlement. Shepherd boy David could have stayed home with his father and animals, but he made the long journey to his brothers’ “camp” and discovered that God had big plans for him at camp.

And then there’s Joshua, Jonah, Esther, Daniel – all who found God’s favor only after they made a bold journey or were uprooted from what was familiar to them. Don’t forget the New Testament – like Mary and Joseph, the 12 disciples, Paul, and Peter. Even John received the vision that became Revelation when he was far away on a tiny Greek island called Patmos.

It doesn’t take long to realize that most heroes of the Bible were not the kind of people who stayed in their comfortable home and town all year-round. They went away (either intentionally or unintentionally) and God did great things. I believe God will do great things in the lives of your kids, parents, chaperones, teenagers, pastors – everyone who goes to camp. There’s something about going far away that makes space for God to do what He does best – change us.

No more excuses. Sign up for a Christian summer camp and take all your kids. Empower parents with the information that will let them know the importance of summer camp (like this article). I would recommend starting at http://www.ccca.org/ to search for a quality Christian summer camp or retreat center.

What is your camp story? Why do you think summer camp is so important?