Why Use Crowdbreakers
By Tom Friendie
Crowdbreakers are an effective way to pull teenagers together from wandering around a room into a cohesive group, alive and ready to discuss an important issue. They can provide release for the tremendous energy teens have, they can be used to quiet kids down through fun activity, they can liven teens up who are lethargic and uninvolved, they can be used to involve new teens or previously involved teens. Many youth leaders feel such stunts and games are beneath their dignity or the dignity of their group. Crowdbreakers are not intended as intelligent activities, though they can induce discussion. They are not intended as a reflection of what you do with your friends at a party. They are ‘interaction starters.’
When To Use Crowdbreakers
They are used best at retreats socials, camps parties, and Forerunners. In general, they are most effective in larger groups with more than forty In attendance. In smaller groups, use only advisedly. Remember, you are the reader. Take charge, act like these are relaxed fun activities, and your group will respond. You may not feel comfortable at first as you attempt them, but they can give new zest to your group.
How To Use Crowd breakers
1. Preparation and Forethought. Before using any idea, read it several times to make sure you thoroughly understand all that it involves. Actually visualize the entire presentation. Think out loud of what you will say and how you will say it. To many people this sounds trite, but it can make the difference between a thrilling success or a sticky failure! Be sure to have ready and available all the needed props and equipment before attempting the presentation.
2. Presentation. The actual execution (and for some it will be!) of the event often determines how well it will be received. Whenever possible, choose lively participants who will enhance the stunt. If you have difficulty getting volunteers for events, just choose those you want and have the crowd applaud them for being willing to participate. (Crowd pressure is the best discipline a leader can use with teenagers to achieve his desired goal.) Some make such a big deal out of selecting contestants that the stunt itself becomes anti-climactic. Have the participants stand or sit in full view of the audience, All your props should be ready and accessible. (Do not run around the room getting things together after your program begins.) For small groups, it is often best to keep your props out of sight so that the stunt will be unexpected. This will also eliminate those curious questions everyone asks. In many cases, you can arrange before the meeting with a participant to volunteer at the appropriate time. If the stunt is messy, such a person can bring and hide other clothes.
3. Timing. Of all the ingredients that help make a stunt successful, this is the most important. Don’t let any portion of the event drag. From the selection of the contestants to the applause, or thanks for their participation, keep it moving! If you have planned ahead and have visualized the entire presentation from start to finish, timing will not be difficult. Another point to remember is to stop a game or a stunt at its peak. If it is a real hit, use it again at a later date. Don’t drag it out by trying to get one more laugh.
4. Leader Enthusiasm. It is up to you to sell to your group. If they can sense your enthusiasm and excitement about what you are doing, they will want to participate. One way to communicate enthusiasm and excitement is to talk at a faster pace than normal, and to talk a little louder than usual (yelling isn’t necessary). If you can think up a couple of clever lines that fit your group or a certain individual during the presentation of an event, you will often create more interest and enthusiasm.
Break into teams by sex, class, or by numbering off. Each team must get into line according to height within time limit. Last team to do it gets penalty. For variation, you can do the same thing while standing on knees.
Give each contestant a balloon. The first one to blow up his balloon until it pops wins.
Leader crosses his hands vertically. Crowd claps when hands cross only. Person who claps at wrong time (when leader fakes and doesn’t let hands cross) gets a creative penalty.
A glass milk bottle is placed on the floor. The contestants are instructed to put a dime between their knees and hold it there while they walk up to the milk bottle about ten feet away and drop the dime into the bottle. If they succeed; they keep the dime. If they don’t succeed, they get a penalty. (Use three contestants—for men only)
Contestants stand in a circle and are told that each will be blindfolded and given a rolled newspaper. They are told that after they are blindfolded, they will not be allowed to move their feet, but can move any other part of their body. The object is to hit the others with the newspapers without being hit yourself. The catch is that one person is blindfolded and the others have pretended to be blindfolded. The other four have been clued in to this themselves and then hit the sucker so that he won’t catch on too fast.
(Props: An abundance of freshly made popcorn.) Each guy is given more than enough popcorn and the object is to see how much he can stuff in his mouth before the time limit. The audience then judges by applause which one has the most popcorn stuffed in his mouth. After the winner is chosen, you then tell them the first one to eat all of his popcorn will not get a penalty—the other two will
NEWSPAPER AND BLANKET
Two guys lie on the floor next to each other and the others form a circle around them. It is explained that one of the two kids in the circle has a wad of newspaper, and when the two lying on the floor cover themselves with a blanket, one of the people in the circle will hit them on the head with the newspaper. As soon as they are hit, they can whip the blanket off and try to guess who hit them. The gimmick is that one of the guys lying on the floor, who was already been clued in, is the one who has the newspaper. No one in the circle actually has the newspaper. So, when the blanket is over them he reaches over with his hand that is farthest away from the other fellow on the floor and hits him. Then he quickly hides the newspaper at his side while the one hit whips the blanket off and accuses one of the people standing over him. When he finally figures out what is going on, the uninformed guy becomes the one who holds the newspaper for the next guy who comes in.
Choose someone to meet the fly family from the audience. He is introduced to the family one at a time. The family consists of kids standing in line, all with hands behind their backs. He meets Mr. Horse Fly, Mr. Butterfly, Mr. Tsetse Fly, Mr. House Fly, and the final one to be introduced is Mr. Letter Fly. As soon as he is introduced, Mr. Letter Fly throws a small glass of water in the face of the unsuspecting person.
(Props: Five eggs, four hardboiled and one raw.) All eggs are colored. The box containing all eggs is presented to the five guys. Contestants are to pick one egg. As soon as everyone has an egg, start at the left side of the line and the first person breaks his egg over the person on his right. Each one continues to do so until the raw egg is discovered. The last one in line breaks his over contestant number one.
Get two old pairs of men’s shoes, take out strings, punch holes in back of each shoe and tie a four-foot piece of elastic to each. Place shoes on opposite sides of room and tie other ends of the elastic to legs of a chair. The object now is for the two people to get into the shoes—one in each pair and walk toward each other. Have someone sitting in chairs to weight them, and have them spaced so elastic becomes taunt just as the two meet each other. The object is with the shoes stretching the elastic, to exchange shoes in the fastest time possible and return to the other chair. Several rules:
1. Once one’s foot is taken out of shoe, it cannot touch floor.
2. If shoe snaps back to chair, person must hop back and get it.
3. Hand cannot be used to exchange shoes.
4. You’ll need your hands to hold each other up.
1. Pass out 3×5 cards and pencils to everyone. Have them print their names clearly at the top of the cards.
2. Have them write very short questions about their future.
3. Fold in half just once.
4. Collect the cards.
5. Introduce the Great Macaroni, the great swami and fortune teller. This can be the leader or other staff member with a towel wrapped around his head.
6. Give him one card in advance, or he can make up a question and answer about someone in the room. He then holds card to head as if meditating on it, etc. Then he gives the name and question and answer…then he looks at the card to see if he is correct. Actually, he is reading the name and question of his next prediction (practice this little trick before meeting to insure success
Select two kids Each is given a cheap alarm clock and some tools. They are instructed to take the clock apart without breaking anything. The one with the most parts at the end of a designated time periods wins.
HOW” and ‘BY’
Divide your group into two sides, hand out cards to all. On one side they are to write a question beginning with how” such as ‘How do you make good grades?” ‘How do you eat a pickle? do you get to Hong Kong?’
On the other side they write answers beginning with the word ‘by”. “By changing bubble gum.” “By watching submarine races.” ‘By pulling through a pickle strainer.” You then collect all the cards, keeping them in two groups. One staff member reads the questions, another reads the answers. By juggling them around you can come up with some hilarious answers.
Have three girls leave room. Assistant explains to them that they will each be given a song title to act out without talking. If the group does not guess within a minute then the girls get some consequences. Contestants act out what it is and how many words are in the title first. The key is that when the girls are out, tell the audience all songs, have them make it hard for girls.
Leader explains that while in college he was taught a psychological experiment by his football coach. The idea was to learn complete mental, physical and psychological control. The leader explains that it is possible to prevent someone from sitting up by using certain mental block techniques. He says he has become proficient in this technique and asks the audience if there is anyone who would like to volunteer. Three fellows are then chosen and two are sent out of the room. Contestant then lies on a table and is told to try to sit up to prove he can do it. Then he lies down with hands flat on the table with eyes shut. He is instructed to keep his eyes shut for the entire exercise or he will automatically break the psychological barrier. He is then told to concentrate on the fact that he can sit up. He is to concentrate on that one statement. At a signal from the leader, the audience begins to chant, ‘You can’t sit up”, until the leader cuts them off. The contestant is instructed that as soon as the audience stops chanting, he is to sit up. The leader in the meantime has filled a pie plate full of Silly Soap or shaving cream and when the contestant tries to sit up, he is met with the pie right in the face. He is then cleaned up quickly and asked to sit down and the other contestants are brought in one at a time.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”