Friday, February 13, 2009

Book Review: Team Challenges

Planning church youth group activities can be a real challenge. Especially if you want to keep games fun and fresh week after week.

There are a lot of helpful gaming books on the market and even some good websites, but I've been frustrated by weaknesses many of these resources seem to share: many activities do not work well for small groups; many games involve embarrassing or inappropriate physical contact between genders; many games lack creativity and seem to just repackage the same concept into a thousand different variations; and some games breed an overly-competitive spirit which stifles godly, edifying relationships.

A helpful book I recently came across is Team Challenges: 170+ Group Activities to Build Cooperation, Communication, and Creativity. The author pools her years of experience in 4-H and other youth programs into a helpful book of "easy-to-implement activities that will keep kids laughing, having fun, and learning the benefits of teamwork, all at the same time."

Could you create a bridge that spans 18 inches using only 3 sticky notes and 10 cotton balls? Could you think of 20 things that come in pairs? Could you suspend a beach ball at least 3 feet high in less than five minutes using only a sheet of mailing labels and 25 sheets of newspaper? Could you and your friends completely flip a table cloth using only your feet? Could you plan a skit in only one minute about a loud guest visiting a library? These are only a sampling of great ideas in the book.

Chapters include:

  1. Creativity, Cooperation, and Communication. What are they good for?
  2. Get it Together. Gather your group and prepare for some fun.
  3. Everything but the Kitchen Sink. Commonly used materials and their uncommon uses.
  4. Tiny Tasks. Warm up with these quick activities.
  5. Talk It Up. Discuss options, share ideas, and make connections.
  6. Construction for the Whole Crew. Building towers, bridges, roads, and more.
  7. Move it! Physical activities.
  8. Show Me the Funny. Improv hilarity at its best.
  9. Trouble with Tasks? Working through some difficult spots.
Team Challenges fills a critical gap in game-planning that many other books seem to miss. It emphasizes cooperation rather than competition. It focuses on problem-solving rather than sheer physical prowess. It fosters creativity rather than repackaging the same old relay races. I believe it would be a great addition for any teacher, youth pastor, game leader, or children's resource room.

1 comment:

Kris Bordessa said...

Thanks for the great review of Team Challenges! If you haven't visited my Great Solutions site yet, I invite you to do so, and I encourage you to take photos of YOUR group's Great Solutions. Send them my way and I'll post them to inspire other team builders!