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It's great to get outside when we can.

Blocky aka 40-40 in

Best played in a fairly large area, with lots of places to hide.


One player is ON, and a central item like a tree or post is HOME. Players run and hide while the person who is on counts at the base with eyes closed. 40 should be enough.


The aim of the game is for the players to touch HOME without being seen. The person who is ON tries to spot the other players. The counter will start near the base, eventually having to venture further. When other players think they can beat the person who is ON back to HOME, they'll break cover and run for it. When they touch base, they shout, 'IN!' When the person who is ON sees a player, they run back to HOME and shout "Block 1-2-3 (name)" or "40-40 (name)". The game continues till all players are back home or spotted.

The first person to get HOME is ON for the next game.

capture the flag variations

What youth group hasn't played Capture the Flag? If you haven't, now is the time. Best played in a fairly large playing area, like a football pitch.

Rather than me explaining it all, check out this great video from Andrew Bird with loads of variations.

Blocky & Capture the Flag
What3words Treasure Hunt
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What3words treasure hunt

What3Words is an app that breaks up the world into 3m x 3m squares, each one with a unique three words to identify it. You can find my church at

So why not do a geocaching game, hiding the three words that point young people to the place their next three words are hidden?

This game was created by Melinda Stylo, Youth Minister at St. Mary's Church, Maidenhead.


OK, so you won't have a monopoly on fun playing this, but nearly. it's one of the best things I've done!

So not everyone lives in striking distance of London, but you can use the idea anywhere. In teams with leaders, run/jog/ walk/meander round a city, taking photos of your team in as many streets on the list as you can. In London, you score points for each property - Mayfair, Park Lane, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly - points are doubled if you get the set. 

Download the folder below and you have:

  • a table with scoring roads and nearest tube stations

  • a risk assessment, but this is just a starting point. Do please check and adapt it for your situation.

  • a scoring table. Just put a '1' in every street the team has taken a photo of and the Excel document will work out each team's score and the overall winner.

  • safety instructions for the players and leaders

  • this beautiful picture, created by Jack Percey

  • instructions for you, the organiser 

An Amphiboly, if you're wondering, is an ambiguity of speech.

If you can improve it, please do so and let me know.

letter photo hunt

Another variation of a photo treasure hunt that's so easy to organise. Send young people out in teams, preferably with two leaders per team, but it depends on the ages of your young people.

Teams take photos of letters around the area to spell words they're given. We gave the teams a list of leaders' names and they had to take photos of each letter of the leaders' names, in order... Bonus points for two or three of the letters in order on the photo, etc. - something like three points for two letters in order, six points for three. Give bonus points for capitals on photos where capitals should be.

Might just be our area (we're urban), but it was incredibly quick. Make it more interesting by asking them to write a story about one of your leaders using photos of individual letters.

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Letter Photo Hunt
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Thanks to Abby Poole, Youth Worker at Guildford Baptist Church and her team, for coming up with the idea of playing Hunted, based on the C4 TV series. 

The zip folder below contains instructions, a publicity overlay and a Hunted risk assessment. As always, this risk assessment is a starting point. If you can improve it, please do so and let me know.

Have you discovered



You're wanting to do stuff outside. The young people love a photo treasure hunt, but you've done a few already. How can you go about raising the bar? Check out Actionbound. It's a new way to create treasure hunts and the young people follow clues on a mobile phone (this can be a leader's if you prefer). Get used to it and you can go further. Why not present a new vision for your youth ministry around your building?

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Image by Marius Mangevicius from Pixabay

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hunt the leader

The absolute classic. Much-loved by young people (but mostly by leaders!). Leaders hide in plain sight in a boundaried area. Young people in teams have to try and find them in a certain time.

This is actually me.

No, it's not a real cigarette.

Played it before? Call it Pac-Man with leaders wearing different-coloured sheets...

Or make it Where's Wally?/Where's Waldo? You can even ask homeowners to hang a dog's tail out of their window or put a giant camera in a shop window.

Hunt the leader


Mark Watson at St. John's, Harborne suggests the young people bringing one implement each to play with - can be a rounders bat, but it can also be a cricket bat or a tennis racket. 

Give them each a plastic cup to catch the ball with and throw the ball with. It evens the playing field for those who aren't great at catching and throwing...

Four-ball rounders is an old-favourite of mine, helping those who are less sporty and allowing you to play with less players, as it's an individual game. The bowler, with a bucket at their feet, has four balls and throws them in quick (but not too quick!) succession. The batter tries to hit all four, then runs.

The batter can't be caught. All the balls need to be returned to the bucket to get them out, by running (not throwing) them in, before the batter gets all the way round. If more than one ball goes behind, only one needs to be returned. No one can carry more than one ball in. If they get round, they bat again immediately, so if they're great players, they'll still get tired!

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Photo by Ross Sneddon on Unsplash

Photo treasure hunt
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photo treasure hunt

Call it a walk and eyes may roll, but call it a photo treasure hunt...

You may not want to cram as many youth as possible in a phone box if Covid is still rife where you are...

Updated February 2024

Do send me your best photo challenge ideas here.

Raising the Bar
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"To all youth leaders (paid or voluntary) out there: if Raising The Bar is not currently on your shelf, it needs to be."

Scott Rushby

UK Youth Pastor

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Rated             by Premier Youth & Children's Work magazine reviewer 



Raising the Bar Escape Room Round the Wo


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Raising the Bar prayer and Bible reading




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