GAME ON: A Sports Related Theme for Youth Camps

Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Everyone likes winning and wants to be on the winning team. With a Team Sports themed youth retreat, young people can learn important ways to be a team player.  In order to win at team sports, players must train and practice and work together. In this retreat, youth can discover what God says about what it takes to be a winner not only in sports but in their spiritual lives.

You Can Do It!

Philippians 4:13 King James Version (KJV)

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Training can be monotonous and difficult. In order to be the best players they can be, athletes must perform plays and moves over and over until they are perfected. They also spend long hours in the gym in order to get stronger and faster and better. Sometimes such tedious training is unbearable, the hours are too long, the challenges too difficult and the athletes feel like giving up. The scripture from Philippians is a much-loved verse used by many athletes to encourage themselves and push through the difficulties. With Christ’s strength, they can overcome the hardest challenges!

Play With Purpose!

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

24 Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. 25 Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. 26 Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. 27 Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

In team sports, it’s important to “keep your eye on the prize.” Without a focus on the goal, an athlete’s efforts may become aimless. Paul tells the Corinthians in this scripture that this practice is as true in life as it is in sports. As believers, we must be disciplined and have self-control. We must also faithfully keep our focus on God’s work in order to be at our best and play the game to completion.

Focus and Endure!

Hebrews 12:1 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

12 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us,

Sports stadiums are often crowded and loud. There’s music playing, fans shouting and many other distractions. If a player focuses on the action off the field, he or she may miss an important play, a special call, or even let the game clock run out. When on the field, it’s vitally important for a player to leave all the day-to-day distractions behind and have his or her “head in the game.” The same goes for the daily life of a believer. We must not let ourselves get distracted by the clamor of the World around us, but must focus on God and endure faithfully to the work He has for us.

Sports Themed Crafts

Washer Ball Necklaces

These fun and easy-to-make necklaces can be modified to include almost any sport. Simply paint the washer as a different ball: soccer, basketball, golf, etc. Supply different colored cords to further diversify them.

Personalized Pennant

This craft only needs simple, inexpensive supplies, but has endless possibilities! The pennants can be painted with some applicable scripture like the verses shared above, or with encouraging words or mottos. Let your attendees add their own special touches with shapes and pictures to make the pennants extra unique and personalized. They can hang them on a bedroom wall or even in a locker as a special reminder and encouragement.

Ball Pillows #30

Like the washer necklaces, this craft can be modified to include most sports. Supply different colored fleece, yarn and the templates and let your young people create the ball that they like best.

Sports Themed Games

Dribble/Goal/Free Throw Contest

For this game, the set-up is simple and easily modified from one sport to another. Attendees compete to dribble through a set of cones, score a football or soccer goal, or shoot one or more baskets. You could even create a sports obstacle course in which individuals or teams compete in a variety of team sport challenges.


Team sports are often rife with smack-talk. While some good-natured ribbing can be fun, it can turn ugly when taken too far. This game is a great way to get young people to be careful about what they say. You can begin this game at the start of your retreat. As attendees enter, give them a colored whistle (or a flag-football flag) and a list of words that are prohibited. Make sure they are fun and common words that will be difficult to avoid like: “ball” “team” or “win.” If another attendee or leader catches them using the banned word, they receive a penalty and lose their whistle or flag. The person with the most whistles or flags at the end of the retreat wins.

Monkey in the Middle

This classic game can be played with any type of ball. Choose one person to be the Monkey. The other players make a circle around the Monkey and pass the ball across the circle while the person in the middle tries to catch it. If they do, whoever threw the ball takes the place of the Monkey in the center and play continues until you call time.

Sports Themed Ideas

Ball Art

This fun activity is probably best suited for outdoors or a large space you are not afraid to get messy! Set up easels with large sheets of paper or tape a big role of craft paper to a wall. Supply a variety of balls (different shapes and sizes work best) and several colors of craft paint. Let the young people dip the balls in the paint and then throw them at the paper to create some super unique abstract art.

MVP Photo

Photos are always a great take-home souvenir. This photo booth option can be a wonderful way for your attendees to remember the fun they had at your sports retreat. Take photos of your young people in their favorite sports trophy poses: Heisman, lay-up, baseball swing, etc. If you’re adventurous and good with a camera, you could even do action shots.

A Sports-themed youth retreat can be fun for athletes and spectators alike. It can teach young people the value of hard work and diligent practice as well as fair play and sportsmanship. It can help young people understand the importance of focus as it pertains to sports as well as the everyday life of a believer. There are many lessons to be taken away from a sports-themed retreat that are valuable both on and off the field.