Looking for a proven successful youth ministry event idea to kick off your summer? Try this: Ultimate Nerf Wars.
What you need: Tables, anything camouflage, tarps, bandannas in two colors (1 per person), score sheets, pens, Sharpies, glow-in-the-dark bracelets/necklaces, medals or prizes (optional) Bullet buckets to gather up bullets for reloading. Lots of volunteers.
What people need to bring: Any and all Nerf guns and ammunition. Make sure all Nerf guns and related parts are labeled with your name. Encourage everyone to dress in black or camo and encourage facepaint. Money to cover food costs (optional)
Who this works best for: Ages 8+. We’ve done this event for tweens, youth and college students & they’ve all loved it.
Where: Any space big enough for running around – gym/Family Life Center/big open field
The set up:
You are creating a battlefield and you’ll want a team of volunteers to help you. Take available tables and set them up on end as barriers, cover things with camouflage. Gather up all those decorative ficus trees gathering dust in the Sunday school rooms & make a virtual forest.
Set up one table and chairs in a central area to be the “triage” unit. This is where participants will come once they get hit by a bullet to have their score sheet marked (there’s an honor system element here).
Sample Schedule for a 3 Hour Event:
6:00-6:30 – Registration & Check-in. As participants arrive, have them sign in with their name plus number of guns & bullets that they’ve brought. Distribute bandannas or fabric strips as people check in to indicate their teams. Optional: Have a target practice range set up to get people warmed up before the event begins.
6:30-6:45 – Boundaries & Rules
Gather everyone. Let everyone know what the boundaries are. The rules we’ve used are:
- No aiming toward the head.
- If you get shot, go to the “triage” station to get your score sheet marked.
- Ricochets do not count as hits.
- Ammo that is on the ground is fair game to pick up and reuse.
- Have your bandanna in an easy to see spot (like around your head)
- Each round might have specific rules for that game (see below)
- Have fun!
6:45-7:00 – Round One – Army A vs. Army B* Allow for time between rounds to gather up bullets.
7:00-7:20 – Round Two – Infection or Zombie Nerf Tag
7:20-7:40 – Break! Eat Pizza, drink water, make friends.
7:40-8:00 – Round Three – Last Person Standing
8:00-8:20 – Round Four - Glow-in-the-Dark Nerf Tag
8:20-8:40 – Clean up all the bullets/Find your equipment
8:40-9:00 – Announce winners/give prizes/eat cupcakes/close in prayer
*Variations for each round:
Army One vs. Army Two – A classic battle between two teams, object is to have the team that gets hit the least.
Capture the Flag – Two teams battle against each other and try to capture the flag of the opposing team. Object is to capture the flag and return it to base without getting shot.
Infection or Zombie Nerf Tag – 2 people are designated zombies & must walk around arms straight ahead (zombie style). Only zombies have Nerf guns. If they tag you with a bullet, you become a zombie. Nonzombies can speed walk and hide behind things but not run. Last nonzombie wins.
Glow In the Dark Tag – An absolute favorite. Give everyone glow in the dark bracelets, turn out the lights & fire!
Every One for Yourself/Last Person Standing – A basic elimination round. Once you’re shot, you’re out. Object is to not get hit.
Youth Ministry Application:
Fellowship/Evangelism – this is a great outreach event. It creates a non-threatening, fun environment for youth to bring friends.
Discipleship – an option would be to have Nerf Wars as part of a larger retreat or event. This could easily tie into important ministry topics like spiritual warfare, armor of God, working as a team, being lights in a dark world, why zombies are not real, etc.
We’d love to hear from you!
Have you done this kind of event before? What worked/what didn’t?
If you try it, please send us your pictures!
(A special thank you to volunteer youth sponsor Kala Batts from St. Barnabas United Methodist Church, Arlington, TX for sharing these creative ideas! There are a ton of websites with Nerf games, the ones our Nerf Wars expert Kala recommends are http://www.ehow.com/list_7163139_nerf-wars-rules.html and http://www.angelfire.com/wa/rythom/warideas.html)