Games ideas for you to try

Running a youth club can be quite straighforward. Get yourself a table tennis table and equipment, a snooker table with nearly enough balls and a place where you can lay out the Mars Bars and Coke cans, and you're in business. Not really.

But there comes a time when you need to put on special activities and events which lift your meetings out of the ordinary. Perhaps the most spectacular activity I've ever had the privilege of surviving (you may think that's a sweeping statement, but I firmly believe angels were protecting me that evening) took place when I was a youngster myself and a regular member of the local Crusaders Class. This excellent organisation has pioneered in having special activities and even unique games (podex, crocker, crugger, hacker, etc), but this evening event was anticipated to end at the A&E department. The event is not permitted these days (like most of the best games and activities) due to the extreme danger we were in throughout. You'll see what I mean.

As we arrived, we saw three car tyres had been suspended by ropes, chimps-at-the-zoo style. There were three teams of six 8-12 year olds, each provided with two 7lb club hammers, two 12lb sledgehammers and an old upright piano.

Yes, amazing as it may seem to us these days, all we had to do was to get the entire piano through the tyre before the other teams could do the same.

Time was of the essence, so there was wild swinging of lethal weapons and much flying wood. There was little danger of getting a splinter in your eye; I'm talking about a good chance of getting big bits of polished piano lid in your face and the strong probability of getting a sledgehammer on the back of your head. It was mayhem and even way back then in the dark, distant sixties, some of the leaders wondered if it might be too dangerous... and they would have been right. Thank the Lord for the paramedic crews that were standing by.

Of course, I lived to tell the tale, and the injuries I received were merely flesh wounds. But the memory has not faded, nor the years forgiven. Let's be silent a moment out of respect for the fallen ones.

1 Volleyball Variations
Volleyball is a great team game, as it requires co-operation, trust, all-round skill and lots of fun. But why not consider these alternatives?

Blind Volleyball

This involves not blindfolds, which would make it much too difficult, but a high wall or similar non-transparent obstruction. Suspending a tarpaulin from a washing-line might do. Or just fling a blanket or two over your normal volleyball net. The idea is that if you cannot see what the other team is doing, it makes it harder to react to the ball when it eventually looms into view. Once again, this game requires a massively confident referee - be bold, be strong!


A surfeit of badminton rackets inspired the idea of badminton with teams of ten on each side. We tried it with three shuttlecocks, and there was fun for all. I admit that this is really a badminton variation. Okay, try playing like this without rackets. Not so good, is it?


Daftness demands that every now and then we spoil a good game by using the wrong equipment. Volleyball is quite difficult enough, but playing it with a rugby ball makes it even trickier. Or three balls at once. Or no ball at all, and everyone must play as if in slow-motion.

Piggy-Back Volleyball

Twice as many can play! The reduction in mobility means that it is more realistic to allow the ball to bounce once (as tennis). I know this technically makes this Piggy-Back Half-Volleyball, but who cares? Arranging the young people into teams of male pairs vs female pairs is best in this game, since no-one is any good at it and there is no advantage.

2 Hospital Races
While this may not be to everyone's taste, this turned out to be an exciting and highly competitive event.


Having just one wheelchair meant we could not race in the normal way, but staging time trials around a course was just as good.


At first, we raced pairs of young people round a course while using one leg and two crutches, but later we experimented with dribbling a football. This turned out to be very difficult, but much more likely to result in falling over, which was the amusement we were after.


Using trollies from the kitchen, we placed small young people as 'patients' on the trollies, and raced teams of two 'porters' along corridors to 'operating rooms' where various items carried by the 'patients' were 'amputated', and then raced the 'patients' back to their 'wards'. Energetic, slightly sick and completely hilarious.

3 Single Wicket Blindfolded Cricket
It's up to you, really. Try blindfolding the bowler and fielders, in which case the batsman has to hope someone throws the ball near enough to him to hit it and thus score runs. Or blindfold just the batsman and test the skills of the bowlers and fielders at shying the ball at the stumps while the batsman swings wildly and in all directions. Out 'hit wicket' is commonplace in this version. Cricket purists despise these games, but cricket purists are mostly tedious people who enjoy a game which travel writer Bill Bryson describes as one which 'takes several days to play and never seems to begin'.

2002 Andy Back