Top 5 summer youth events that cost under $5 total

Youth ministry budgets are often slim, but that doesn’t mean your youth group fun has to be. Summer events are great for building relationships, earning trust, and meeting pre-Christians. Here are five summer youth events I’ve done that cost $5 or less total.

1. Movie night on the big screen
Hang a big white sheet on the side of your house and setup a projector and sound system from church in the grass or driveway. Invite kids to come over at dusk and watch a movie on the BIG screen with their own lawn chairs, blankets, bug spray and snacks. I did this last week. Here’s a picture of my setup I posted on Twitter. Always fun!

2. Swim party
My wife and I are blessed enough to live on a great swimming lake, so youth kids swim here pretty often to cool off during the summer. A guy in our church even made volleyball poles for us to use in the lake, too. Suh-weet!

3. Photo scavenger hunt
Get a bunch of adults to drive teams of teenagers around town with their digital cameras taking pictures of things on a predetermined list. Meet up someplace afterwards where the group can watch all the pictures together on a TV or projection screen. Here’s the list I used with my group this year, along with all the pictures they took.

4. Night games
If your church, a family you know or a park near you has a lot of wooded area, meet up at dusk to play some night games, like Capture the Flag, Sardines, Mission Impossible or even Hide and Seek. Encourage them to come dressed up in camouflage gear and dark clothes. Afterwards have a bonfire and a time of worship.

5. Mall madness
Mall Madness events are great if it’s unbearably hot outside and you all want to be in air conditioning. I already blogged four Mall Madness ideas. All four of them are dirt cheap or free.

Other ideas from the community

I asked on Twitter for other people’s ideas for good summer youth events that cost $5 or less. Here are their suggestions:

ruthEbabes: waterfight…. huge pile of water balloons and some buckets and tada!!!! Mad cheap summer fun!

Shelby_Craig: Laser Tag…we just did a laser tag at $5 a game and then went to a local gymnastics and took over the place for $5.Total trip $10

Saraeden: we do all-nighters at the church. Guitar Hero, movies, contests, games . everyone brings snack – 7pm to 7am … free … awesome. and parents volunteer to come in and cook us breakfast.

Briandurr: It’s still tough to beat the old stand-by video scavenger hunt & watch the videos afterwards over pizza. or the “Dive-In Movie” watching Jaws from the pool. (& grab Jr. High girls feet when the shark shows up)

mikelovato: we’re doing an event next friday called Frisbee Friday (not original to us) just show up at a park to play ultimate frisbee – free

lilkup: park, ultimate frisbee, wiffle ball, (should be more, but can’t think)

Josh Cook on my Facebook wall: Going to the park is often our best cheap outing. Picnic. Bring a lunch.

What ideas do you have that could be added to this list?

Posted on July 21, 2008

  • Pingback: Shore Youth Ministry()

  • Nick

    low/no cost events rock, even when you have a big budget. :D

  • You can even go with the raucous game of Bigger Better Best! Super Cheap but loads of fun!

  • We’ve done $5 shopping sprees… Each team starts with one $5 bill and 1 hour to return with the most receipts. The receipts must be equal or be less than $5…and you can only get ONE item per store. This was alot of fun!

  • Pingback: The Cure for Youth Ministry Summer Boredom (

  • Pingback: RETHINKING YOUTH MINISTRY: The Cure for Youth Ministry Summer Boredom()

  • Pingback: The Cure for Youth Ministry Summer Boredom (

  • i have a few for ya if you want them.

    Assassin: this is a total guy summer game (girls can play though) you have the students sign up in your office with you, making the list private so that only you know who the studetns are who are playing, and what you do is each student buys a water pistol (something small mind you) and over the summer you will send out targets (volunteers, pastors, parents, other students) that the students need to try and assassinate with their water pistol, the great fun is when all the targets are taken out the winner has is the last one standing, and you do a huge water fight in a disclosed areas ( i know really guyish)

    Random Frisbee Golf, this one is my favorite. you hop in the church van early saturday morning and go play 18 holes of random golf. you drive till you feel the urge to pull over and on the spot create a hole right then and there, walmart parking lots are awesome.

  • A Bible study in someone’s home.

    • Tonnenator

      Just a straight Bible study with no fun stuff? Yeah good luck getting kids to come to that….

  • Pingback: UYN Newsletter #13 « UYN Newsletter()

  • We have a "Summer Events" lineup where we do different events each week (one per week) instead of our usual Wednesday evening worship during July and August. I try to hold a "Summer Bible Intensive" during those months too, for those who want to be involved in some intense Bible study since we're taking out our worship time.

    Some of the summer activities we do (that are cheap):
    -Since we live real close to Baltimore, we can get Orioles baseball game group tickets for $6/person (I know that's $1 more than 5, but it's still cheap for an awesome night).
    -Our "Primetimers" group (older adults) holds a pool party & cookout for us, completely covering the cost for everything. It is nice to get other groups to partner with you so they can fellowship together (especially our youth and adults), and they can cover the cost for you!!!

    Events we do that aren't cheap:
    -Kingsfest @ Kings Dominion (concerts and amusement park in one)
    -White Water Rafting
    -Lasertag ($15 or so)

  • Its a great opportunity make a plane of tour anytime to anywhere, bargain air tickets make all things very easy.


  • Emily Rodgers

    You can have a dodge ball game if you have a gym in your church…. You can go laser taging or rock climbing…. you can have a glow bowling night….you can have a manhunt a night time when its cool out… you can have a car wash to raise money for an events…you can play a gaem called bigger or bettter who you do is start with a penny and go around to peoples houses asking if they have anything bigger or better !!! :D these r things our youth group did :)

    • Those are all super-fun things! Sounds like you guys have a good time!

  • Do you have a spam problem on this blog; I also am a blogger, and I was curious about your situation; many of us have developed some nice methods and we are looking to swap solutions with other folks, be sure to shoot me an e-mail if interested.

  • Jose Pelayo

    My church is starting a youth group/ministry for the first time and all these ideas are great guys. I didn’t know where to start if with a simple bible study but that sounds kind of boring, I wanted to do something fun that would break the ice specially if teenagers that never accepted Christ come out to check it out. This blog has been very helpful thank you student ministry

    • robin

      Just make sure you remember that you are to “go and make disciples” not be an entertainer or baby sitter. Pray for creativity and God-given ideas. Many tines our “plain ol’ bible studies” are the most interesting and revealing because we let the kids lead the questions. You’ll be surprised what they ask and think about

  • Pingback: Pin by Elizabeth Manko on YoUtH GrOuP | Pinterest()

  • Pingback: Pin by April Gilbert on Youth activity ideas | Pinterest()

New eBookGo
Focused Youth Ministry ebook

85% off!

Focused Youth Ministry

This practical "how to" ebook will walk you through a 30-step process to discovering God's vision for your unique ministry context. The process also shows you how to implement that vision and put metrics in place to evaluate what is moving the vision forward and what isn't.

Price: $12.95 Limited time: $1.99