Games break down barriers, develop group identity and give opportunities for endless fun. But although they look simple and easy to run, there are things that a leader should prepare and bear in mind.
The Group – Before choosing the games to be played, consider the make-up of the Group who will be participating. People of limited physical fitness may find it frustrating to be put through a series of high energy games without a break. Likewise, some games which challenge personal inhibitions.
Running Order – A running order of games should be devised in advance of the games session. This may be no more than a list on a slip of paper. While the leader should not feel they have to cover every game on the list, having such a list does provide a real sense of security and direction to the games session.
Familiarity – The session leader should be thoroughly familiar with all the games in the running order. Before leading a session, try out the games on the list with your friends. If they find them obscure or difficult to follow, then you’ve located the problem to solve before the real event. The more practice and preparation you have, the better your Games Session will be.
Setting – Although new games can be played almost anywhere, it is worthwhile thinking about the setting for your games session.
If outdoors Distractions? Weather? Slippery surfaces?
If indoors Sufficient space for Nos.? Tables/chairs or other obstacles?
New games can lead to a lot of noise, so make sure that this is not likely to create problems with neighbours. When outside, never play close to a busy road.
Tone – Use the first game to introduce yourself and members of the group to one another and to set the tone for the shared experience. Try not to talk too much. Give clear statements, requesting rather than ordering. Smile, speak clearly and exude calm and confidence. People will be reluctant to participate if you appear authoritarian or nervous or unsure.
Pace – Highly influential on the success or failure of a games session is the pace. A carefully structured running order can allow for a mixture of high and low energy games which retain the interest of the group.
Ending – End the session in a creative way it is worthwhile sitting in a circle and asking for negative feedback – anything you didn’t like? Why? And finally the positive, what did you like? A group cheer/shout/jump/prayer can finish the session appropriately.
This text was originally created and published as part of a document for Church of Scotland Summer Mission (Holiday Club) teams by Steve “The Juggler” Thomson. This version was updated by many more iMPACT members who I thank for enhancing it with even more wonderful information!