Freebie Friday #66: Final Four “Mall Madness” ideas

Free youth ministry resources every FridayOk, so this has nothing to do with basketball or even sports in general, but whatever — that’s still what I call it when I play these four games with my youth group. Each game is played in a mall or shopping center. While in the parking lot, I allow the students to form teams and we synchronize watches. Then I explain the rules and tell them to meet in the food court at a specific time to determine a winner. For every minute they’re late, they lose points. When the winning team is decided in the food court, everyone grabs something to eat. Winners eat free (paid by me).

Mall Madness #1: Cheapskate

Give every team an envelop with $2.00 cash. Whoever buys the most stuff with it wins. Receipts are required to prove they purchased it. No free stuff allowed.

Lest you think there’s nothing for $2.00 in the entire mall, there always is — kids just have to get creative and ask to buy things that aren’t normally for sale, like a drinking straw, crushed Oreos from an ice cream stand, a single eyeglasses screw or someone’s promo brochure.

Mall Madness #2: Professional Prowl

This game takes place inside a department store. Each team has a brief time limit (10 minutes) to pick 10 items from around the store and return to you with their items. Teams then switch baskets and race to be the first team to return the items to their proper places. The first team back with an empty basket wins.

Hint 1: You may want to send an adult leader with each team to make sure items are actually returned to their appropriate shelves and hooks.

Hint 2: Playing this in Home Depot or a large hardware store is only for hardcore groups. Returning individual screws and washers back to their little boxes takes FOREVER.

Hint 3: Let the kids loose before security knows what’s going on. Seriously. lol

Mall Madness #3: Who Am I?

Sometime before the event, walk around the mall and make a list of “scavenger hunt” ideas and assign a point value to each quesiton based on it’s level of difficulty. Make copies of it. The night of the event, hand out the sheets to teams in the parking lot, set a time to meet in the food court and let ’em loose. The team with the most points wins and eats free.

Download one of my old sheets if you want to see an example.

Hint: Only make questions based on store names, advertisements, window displays and other things found in the mall’s hallways. Otherwise it takes forever and students end up scrounging through every shelf and hanger… and they usually don’t do it in a neat and calm fashion. Make sure kids know not to look inside stores.

Mall Madness #4: Mystery Men

This one is probably the most fun of them all! Arrange for about 8 people to be wandering the mall at your designated event time. Use 4 people the kids know and 4 people they’ve never seen before, like out-of-town friends of yours or something. Encourage these people to dress in a disguise of some sort. For example, one of my characters that the kids didn’t know dressed all Gothic (because he really is Gothic outside of the workplace). One of the guys the kids actually knew wore thick glasses, a goofy hat, grew a beard that he dyed gray, and made himself look about 50 pounds heavier with padding. He also went around the mall in a wheelchair sitting on one leg pretending to be lame.

In the parking lot, give each team a sheet that shows what each person normally looks like. Assign a point value to each person depending on the “difficulty” of their disguise, too. The goal is to find as many of these people as possible within the allotted time limit. Students are to approach these “strangers” and ask if they are the person in the picture. If they are, the mystery person puts their special sticker on the picture of their face and quickly moves on. Encourage students not to linger around the person either so other groups who may be walking by don’t see it. The fun part is watching the kids approach complete strangers and get it wrong!

Tell the mystery people to meet you back at the food court when the game ends so the kids can see who they missed. Let the kids watch them take the disguises off. It’s funny to watch their reactions (and those of the bystanders around you!). Whoever has the most points wins.

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Posted on March 28, 2008

  • A spin off of the mystery men one that I know (but I haven’t had a chance to try, unfortunately!) is called “Yellow Yak”. It’s kind of the same thing, but you make sure to have people dress up in certain patterns (Such as mostly yellow, or purple, or stripes) but make sure they don’t dress up in the color to the point that they stand out. Then, give each person a code name (such as the all yellow person being the “yellow yak”, or the purple one the “purple platypus”).

    Give the youth a list of all the names, and send them out to find the people, but with one condition: they cannot mention that they’re playing the game, they can only ask the person their identity. So you have a bunch of kids walking up nervously to people going “um… are you the… yellow…yak?”

  • We have done two versions of this game. And both of them are much more fun if played the day after Thanksgiving! The first is a life-sized version of Where’s Waldo, where we have someone dressed up like the (storybook character) Waldo in stripes, a hat, etc.

    The second was one of our best events ever! We had the parents as “hiders” and teens as “finders”. We teamed up the kids, and gave the parents a ten-minute head start. Each individual on the team that found the most parents, and the parent that was found the least each got mall gift certificates. It’s great because both the teens and the parents have fun together!

  • Jon, I love how you got the parents involved with that event! What a great idea! Thanks for sharing it.

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  • Stephanie

    Tim I thank God for what you are doing and making your knowledge available on line. May God bless you and your family and continue to change the world through the next generation!!!

  • @ Stephanie: You’re welcome! Glad you find it useful.

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