Any of us who work with Jr. High students know that they are desperate to grow up. They want to be older, gain more independence, be given more responsibility, and basically be mini adults. We also know, they are nowhere close to being grown.

Caught in the middle of being little kids, and a desire to be seen as an adult, Jr. High students are stuck in a frustrating position, but one that can be really fun if we let it. It’s our job as leaders to remind kids that it’s ok to be just what they are… a KID! God loves kids. Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 19:14 “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” While we love our Jr. High students, we can remind them its ok to keep on being a kid.

One of the ways we can do that is by hosting an “Old School Game Night.” Devoting our time to the joy of games we played as kids can remind Jr. High students that we loved being a kid, and we love that they are still kids. Here are a few tips for hosting your own “Old School Game Night.”

  1. Ask Them What They Played

A few weeks, or months, before your game night, ask some youth what kinds of games they played as kids. It could be games they played at church, at school, or as part of a club or team. Often times the best games come from ones they played with their friends when they weren’t being told what to do by adults. If you don’t know how that game is played, ask them to explain it, and if they would be willing to lead the game one night. This not only gives them a buy-in, it allows them to practice their leadership skills.

  1. Get Buy-in From Adults

This kind of night runs best when you have adults who are really into the games, not just adults who sit on the sidelines and watch. This way youth form better relationship with adults, and are able to see that it’s ok to keep having fun into adulthood. A great option for this night would be to talk to some of the older members of your congregation and ask what games they played, and ask if any of them would be willing to come teach kids how to play those games. What a great intergenerational component!

  1. Structure the Chaos

A night like this can get really crazy, really fast. Have a plan, but remember what it felt like to be a kid. Kids don’t stop one game and start another because 15 minutes are up, so allow games to flow into one another. Also, make it someone’s job to pay attention to how the game is going. If kids seem to be losing interest, it might be time to change it up.

Some possible Old School Games

  • Red Rover
  • Duck Duck Goose
  • Tag
  • Hide and Seek
  • Red Light Green Light
  • Monkey in the Middle
  • Limbo
  • And so many more….

-Sara Galyon

Discussion Questions:

  1. What were your favorite games as a child?
  2. What did you like about them?
  3. What made you not want to play a game as a kid?
  4. What kinds of Old School games do you think your kids would like the most?