Please raise your hand if you have ever found yourself with a group of bored teens when the weather squashes your outdoor plans or, you have downtime in the evening during your trip. Like the time we had an unexpected snowstorm while on youth retreat with 50 middle and high school youth and all of our outdoor activities were canceled. Then there's the time I found myself at Taize in France trying to get teens from several different countries to connect with each other when we finished our community work early.
The following activities are just a few of the ways we beat boredom while traveling with a group of teens.
1. PLAY GAMES: The number one way to beat boredom on the road is to play games. Playing games can break the ice and bring everyone together for some quality time. We've played traditional board games, cards and depending on where we are even video games. But hands down, our favorite is the get up and move around group games that usually have everyone laughing and talking by the end of the game.
Check out some of the ones that have been a hit on our trips:
TRADITIONAL BOARD GAMES:
Apples to Apples each round Is filled with surprising and outrageous comparisons from a wide range of people, places, things and events.
Balderdash contains several cards with real words nobody has heard of. After one of those words has been read aloud, players try to come up with definitions that at least sound plausible.
Some of the top board games are now available for playing on apps. Couldn’t bring a game with you, pick one up at a local thrift store and leave it behind for the next group of bored teens.
CARD GAMES: There are so many card games but some of our favorites are UNO, Spoon, Go Fish, and BS.
GROUP GET UP AND MOVE AROUND GAMES:
Norwegian Foot Game this was taught to our group at Taize by students from Norway. By the end of the game we were all laughing and couldn't wait to play another round.
Here are the steps to play:
1. Make a circle and hold hands.
2. Pick someone to start. (We usually choose the youngest or the oldest.) This person moves his/her foot and puts it beside the person’s foot to his/her right, so that their feet are touching.
3. Then that person moves his/her foot to the next foot to their right and so on.
The point of the game is to try to stay in balance, stretch your legs as far as possible but do not fall down. If you fall down, you are out of the game. In the end, the last person left standing wins.
Ninja this is another circle game but this time the objective is to take turns swiping at opponent's hands to eliminate them.
Signs is a simple game involving stealth, silliness, and not getting caught! Players seated in a circle attempt to “pass” a sign (hand motion or gestures) to each other while a guesser tries to catch the person who currently has the sign.
Heads Up challenges players to guess as many words as possible from a themed deck of charades cards based on their friends' clues. The guessing player holds their mobile phone up to their forehead, with the screen displaying the word to be guessed. Deck themes include celebrities, movies, animals and more. (Android, iOS)
Psych! What do you call a group of zebras? What in the world is a mumpsimus? Inspired by games like Balderdash, Psych has you cooking up the zaniest but most plausible answers to questions with the goal of fooling your friends and scoring points. (Android, iOS)
2. GO GEOCACHING : If you haven't heard of Geocaching, it's basically a treasure hunt using GPS. You go to the website www.geocaching.com and enter the zip code where you are to find little treasures that people have hidden in the area. Once you locate their treasure, you replace it with a new treasure. We've found coins, notes, marbles, toy soldiers, and more.
3. SCAVENGER HUNT: Another popular option among our teens are scavenger hunts. Its an easy way to have fun and they can be held just about anywhere. You just need a list of things to find, pencils or pens and teams. We've even done photo scavenger hunts, and performance based ones where the teams had to act out scenes from movies or sing a song to a stranger. Stuck on a long car or a bus ride? We've had the group hunt for items you would have in your bag or pocket.
4. THRIFT STORE FUN: Find a local thrift store or Goodwill, make teams and set a max budget then give everyone a time limit or a theme to put together an outfit for one team member to model for the group.
5. TALENT SHOW: You will usually find that everyone has some kind of talent and most of them are willing to share it. We've discovered budding comedians, Cirque du Soleil flexibility and once, one of our teens recited every country and it's capital.
Some of my favorite times on trips have been after our teens were bored and everyone came together for a group activity. Each of these options have provided some of our best travel memories and I hope they do the same for you.