Sunday, January 26, 2020

Bean Bags: The Great Equalizer

Feels funny writing a post about bean bags, but last night I was hanging at a bowling alley with some of my high school friends and starting thinking about the booyah-ness of bags. Anybody else doing bowling alley contact work these days?

In the sea of bowling alley arcade games, the "bean bag toss game" became the hot ticket item. It reminded me of just how fun it can be to simply toss bags at a target. 

In light of that, below you'll find three ways you could use bean bag tossing to help you connect with kids.  

A Cornhole School Club

A school cornhole club recently started in my hometown. It's a fun and easy game to play and the new school club attracted all different kinds of kids. 

Starting a cornhole club at your school could be a great way to connect with kids you might not normally meet through Young Life. I worked with some of my high school friends to start an Ultimate Frisbee club at a high school where I led Young Life and the club grew from twenty kids to over a hundred players the following season. Lots of them never came to Young Life, but helping coach the team allowed me to meet kids that I never ran into before.

Cornhole Tournament Fundraiser

Summer camp will be here before you know it. What if you planned a Cornhole Tournament to raise money for camp? A few years ago two of my Young Life guys decided to do just that. They designed a tournament logo, made t-shirts and marketed it like crazy. They charged team registration fees of $30 ($15/person), which meant you got shirts, snacks, and a prize for the winner. They got a business to sponsor the cost of the t-shirts and printed the business logo on the sleeve of the shirt. They got a local food place to donate snacks and drinks and another one to donate gift cards for the winning team. They paid the get a sweet trophy made and posted the pic of "the golden bag "on social media as incentive to sign up.  

Then they had 30 teams come out and compete. It was such a fun day! And they each made $450 towards their summer camp trip! I bet they'll both soon become professors in entrepreneurship.

Cornhole at Club

Play a cornhole tourney at club! Lots of kids own cornhole sets. Ask committee members too. Borrow a bunch for club one night and instead of mixers and games, just do a corn-hole tournament, a couple of songs and a talk. You could build a bracket and write in winners so folks can watch teams advance, like with March Madness. 

Just make sure of a few things:

  • Don't let a kid get left out without a partner. Leaders should be careful to pair up with kids who might be partner-less. 
  • Have a fun music playlist rocking in the background.
  • Make sure to have a few other activities to do when folks lose. You could also have a loser bracket, so folks can keep playing after they lose. 
  • A good prize is a good motivator. "Lunch with a leader" is an easy-go-to, but a gold-spray painted ear of corn can also do the trick. 


Written by Drew Hill.

Drew has been sharing ideas on The Young Life Leader Blog for the past decade. He also wrote an award-winning book for Young Life leaders called "Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel."

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