Must entertain a room of adolescents. How?
July 21, 2011 11:22 AM   Subscribe

I will have about 2 hours and probably 20-30 high school students to entertain. Indoors or outdoors. Supplies can be gotten, so long as they're not outrageously involved. Save me!?

The setting is camp-ish. So think in terms of games and things that are fun/engaging. Imagine also that the overlords would not approve of risky things like red rover. Something that is mentally engaging is also great. What are some possibilities?

I'm open to a diverse range of possibilities.
posted by resiny to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
Scavenger hunt? Either the "Find object A-Z" type, or if you have time to plant clues (divide into teams of 4-5, create clue-cards for each team, different tracks, and the first team to find the end of the hunt wins).
posted by kellyblah at 11:26 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Chair soccer. All you need are balloons, chairs and enough space to set up a playing field.
Set up the chairs like a foosball table formation in the way that you face the chairs and seat the teams (offense and defense). The kids HAVE to stay in their seats. Toss a balloon in the middle and each team tries to score. If their butts leave their seats, they have to sit out for a penalty. It's fun to rotate the kids like you do in volleyball after a score so they get to play different positions.

I've played this with all ages and kids love it.
posted by NoraCharles at 11:40 AM on July 21, 2011

For a more calm and mental activity, google up some brain teasers and divide the kids into four teams and seat them in their teams around you in the middle. Each team gets notecards and a marker. You read the brain teaser and each team has to submit an answer in writing to you in the middle. First team - if they're right, gets 4 points, second team gets 3 points, etc. Scoring this way allows teams to keep trying even after one team has gotten the right answer. Depending on the group, I'll let them keep guessing until they are right. I always explain the answer and enjoy seeing the lightbulb moments when the kids figure them out for themselves.
posted by NoraCharles at 11:46 AM on July 21, 2011

Mafia - every group of kids I've played this with has loved it.
posted by LizzyBee at 11:51 AM on July 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

How much space do you have? What do you mean by "mentally engaging" (trivia or logic problems or strategy...)?

Capture the flag is pretty simple, and allows for a variety of personality types (the nonathletic ones can defend the flag, while the super-duper competitive types are the ones trying to capture it -- or so it how generally goes in my vast experience of working with teenagers for 10years+). It doesn't take a lot of set up -- something that can represent a "flag" and to mark boundaries. You can also make up any rules you need in order to make it fit the environment (e.g., the "jail" area -- how to handle jail breaks, tagging someone out, if you'll have a surprise rogue player, etc). It can also be played indoors or outdoors, and depending on how quickly the kids capture the flag, it can easily fit within your time constraints by having rematches.

(I'm recommending it above the other go-to last-minute simple activities for a group of teenagers -- namely *shudder* dodgeball -- because that was the one the kids would get into the most.)

We've also done scavenger hunts -- but those typically take quite a lot of prep on your end. If you're willing to put in the effort, it can be worth it. (Unless you're in a place where you can do a "bigger and better" scavanger hunt, then it's easy to let the kids loose for a bit and see what crazy stuff they bring back.)

Not sure how hot it is outdoors if you have a lot of space, but another huge hit with our students has been waterballoon volleyball, which is just like volleyball, except you use an old bedsheet held up by the players (like you would when you would play with a parachute during elementary school gym class), where you toss a scarily large water balloon. The idea being you have to work as a team to catch the balloon without it rolling off the bedsheet, and then to toss it over the net to the other team. Obviously the goal is to have it break on the other team's side, getting them wet.

Speaking of balloons -- there's balloon tag, where everyone gets a balloon and a bit of string/yarn/twine and ties the blown-up balloon to his or her ankle, and the goal is to be the last person standing with an unpopped balloon.

Another easy one is to put the kids into small groups, have them empty their pockets, and then create an artistic sculpture from it (and have them explain what it means -- that's most entertaining part!). Or if they won't be carrying anything around with them, you could have toothpicks and marshmallows and see what team can build the tallest and the strongest structures. Generally one team will win for strongest, one for tallest, and one for all-out "that is a crazy, crazy design."

I could probably come up with more, even though I'm not one to be too involved with the games side of things.
posted by paisley sheep at 11:59 AM on July 21, 2011

Seconding Mafia.
posted by empath at 12:33 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Apples to Apples. Also Beyond Balderdash. Both are more about the laughs you get from the answers than trying to be smart (to some degree), so they're great for a varied group of people who may or may not know each other.

These are also great for people who might be reluctant to share their own answers spontaneously in, say, a self-led group activity. It keeps the attention hogs from being able to take over too much, yet everyone can have a good time regardless of what they contribute.

Beyond Balderdash is way more fun than regular Balderdash because it gives you dates, movie names and people's names to describe, and those get SUPER funny. We played this with my high school/college-aged cousins and laughed our asses off.
posted by Madamina at 1:38 PM on July 21, 2011

Chocolate river!

Two teams. Draw a line about 50 feet from where you want to start, and draw a starting line too. Divide into two teams. Tell them they are crossing the chocolate river by using only teamwork and "marshmallows" - sheets of paper. They should get 6-8 to start. The rules are that they all must get across and they must be stepping on the marshmallow at all times or it will melt.

If they figure it out, you can repeat with fewer marshmallows or take away verbal communication or blindfold them.

Hours of fun to be had by all. The best solutions include tearing marshmallows in half (you can also ban that) or making a chain with anchors on each marshmallow. I have done this TONS with HS kids and they love it.
posted by guster4lovers at 3:35 PM on July 21, 2011

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