This is the first post on no-props-needed games. Sometimes I’ve looked over lists of games and mentally crossed out 2 in 3 (or more) because they call for props that are difficult – or expensive – to come by in China. I’m sure the list of available props in places less metropolitan than Beijing is much more restrictive.
Enter the no-props-needed games. These are games that we love, that are engaging and fun, and best of all – don’t require you to buy crazy things! This game requires chairs and an empty water bottle – but since most meetings I’ve been to have chairs of some kind available and the water bottle is basically trash, I’m going to count it anyway ;)
Airport is my favourite youth group game (at least at the moment). I learned it from John Sorrell, and he in turn learned it from Smick (Erik Johanson). As with most great games, this one has a story. We start out by having each kid grab a chair and scatter throughout the room (and sit). Then someone tells the story…
We are waiting in an airport and we just found out our flight has been delayed for 8 hours. Again. So, being bored we have decided as a group to mess with the next person to walk up.
One person gets out of their chair and goes to the opposite side of the room. They attempt to sit down but the whole group shifts around so that the person who’s in can’t get a seat. This sometimes requires creative thinking and teamwork on the part of the seated kids. There is always an empty chair, so the trick is to make sure the empty chair keeps moving away from the person who’s in.
One last thing. The person in the middle is given a slight handicap – they must hold an empty bottle between their legs (we usually use a cheap plastic water bottle someone’s just finished). This is to simulate the luggage they would be carrying around, of course! When that person manages to sit down, the last person standing is the next one in.
I know it sounds simple, but I promise – it takes off quickly! John says he’s played it in 6 countries and kids have always engaged with it. Here in Beijing it draws in kids who can be stand-off-ish in games times normally. I’m not a huge games person and I love playing it! I’ll admit, it gets a little crazy the way we play – people diving on chairs, sitting on each other (arguing over who got there first), some bent chair legs, and a few minor injuries…
One great thing about this game is that it’s so easy to add (or subtract) a player anytime – if kids show up late they can easily join in whenever they arrive. We sometimes play attempting to get every person in at least once – even teaming to get a certain person in rather than to stop the person who’s in from sitting down! I’ve seen a kid walk behind the one who’s in (and is less mobile due to the bottle between their knees) ready to duck in front of them and steal the chair they’re headed for. I’ve seen a grade 6 boy fling himself on a chair as if his life depended on it! There’s so much room for creativity and engaging in individual ways. And it’s just plain fun!
The best part about airport is that the story is SO TCK. If you try this in your home country, the game works but the story doesn’t connect. In Asia, you tell that two sentence story and every kid is with you – they know the pain of airport delays. There’s something awesome about a game with a story that fits your life – and this game’s story fits the TCK life beautifully. A game that brings your friends with you into the boredom of a delayed flight? Well that just rocks.
I know what (and who) I’ll be thinking of next time one of my flights is delayed ;)