Top 5 FREE (or cheap) Youth Ministry Summer Events

Summer is just around the corner and many of us are still flying by the seat of pants trying to get to graduation parties while trying to get a good summer calendar together. If you are looking for an event idea this summer that you can make free or cheap to students, Darren Sutton and myself put together our top 5 list:

1) Summer BBQ’s: This is my favorite for our high school ministry! In fact we are doing 4 BBQ’s this summer. Seek out families in your church who have a great back yard, (maybe a swimming pool), buy or borrow yard games and sports equipment, buy burgers, hot dogs, lemonade and chips, and you’re set! Depending on how big their yard is, you can play games like kickball, wiffleball, and maybe even ask if you can do a slip n’ slide?

2) Ice-Cream Themed Anything: Years ago, at a previous church, we would meet at church and walk a couple of miles to the ice-cream place in town. As simple as this sounds, it’s amazing how many great conversations happen on a walk! (Who would have thought)? Or another idea is to create and build your own sundae experience and let students be creative!

3) Water Wars Capture the Flag Style: Get a team of leaders to fill up thousands of water balloons and find a large open space where you can have a capture the flag water wars game. Make sure you have a few ‘judges’ to eliminate students who get hit with a water balloon in enemy territory. It’s up to you how you make the rules, but know that students just love to throw balloons at each other (and you)!

4) Pool / Beach Party: Drive to the beach or ask around if a family at your church has a sweet pool you can use. Here in South East Michigan, we have loads of lakes with beaches, so finding a location is not a problem. Provide snacks and maybe finish off the evening with S’mores? Obviously, you might want to be clear on what appropriate swimwear looks like.

5) Olympic Games Event: Our middle school ministry recently did an event like this. Go online and find as many relay type games, obstacle course activities, and team building initiatives, and buy some cheap medals for your winners. This event will take a lot of preparation time, but your students will love the Olympic theme this summer!

What cheap or free events are you planning this summer? What would you add to this list? 

Phil <><

  • Jeremiah Isley

    Nice list, we ALWAYS have a Christmas in July party! It’s way easy to get families to lend their Christmas decorations in the Summer when they aren’t being used. Bust out the Bing Crosby and a white elephant gift exchange and you’re good to go! Loads of fun!

  • Ryan

    I recently watched the series “My Boys” with my wife and they had on their show a board game decathlon. I have talked about it with some of my students and we will be doing one this summer. Looking forward to throwing down over Chutes and Ladders!

  • Phil Bell

    Great ideas guys! We have done a ‘Drive-in’ Movie Night, or even a inside movie marathon day when the weather is really hot!

    Phil <><

  • Angie Reeves

    We do a “where in the world is…..?” It’s like amazing race. I leave clues at various locations and teams have to figure out the clues and find the person or people the are searching for. I do it on Disney property in the resort area, you don’t have to be a guest to visit the resorts and the cast members have fun with too. Best of all it is free. It can be translated any city with a little modification. Email me if you want to see how I do it.

  • kolby

    Hey Phil,

    Thanks for the list. I love it. I will use a few of these!

  • Nateo

    Jeremiah? Christmas in July? I have enough on Christmas when it starts in November. I love Christmas. But lets have it in December. LOL.

    But I like to have a Messy Olympics. We don’t do much throw-up Youth Ministry stuff, but this one is good. Condiment Twister, Drip Drip Drop, Messy Slip n Slide, its all good.