The Olympic Games are an exciting global event. The competitions test and showcase the strength, talent, and endurance of the participating athletes.
A youth camp with an Olympic theme could be a perfect way to get teens to “put their game faces on” and join in some competitive fun. Some teens need a little encouragement to join in activities, so a little friendly competition can be an excellent way to get them off the bleachers and onto the field. A youth camp with an Olympic theme can also be adapted to not only test teens physically, but spiritually as well.
The teenage years involve discovery and establishing one’s place in society, so giving teens physical, mental, and spiritual challenges can be greatly beneficial in helping them learn their strengths and weaknesses. This Olympic theme can be modified in many ways to teach different lessons about physical and spiritual strength.
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An Olympic theme teaching perseverance and overcoming distractions
“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”
Hebrews 12:1 HCSB
An Olympic theme teaching the importance of discipline and self-control
“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. 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. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
1 Corinthians 9 24-27 HCSB
Olympic Game Ideas
The internet is overflowing with a multitude of Olympic theme games ideas and activities that can be used for a youth camp with an Olympic theme. Most can be recreated on a small budget using easily found items. A few event ideas include:
Pool Noodle Javelin Toss: The set-up is relatively easy and the materials are inexpensive. You simply take a pool noodle and loop it together with itself and tap the ends together. Create 6 of these rings and tape them together. Hang them in an open area like a tree branch. Use a long pool noodle to toss from a predefined area. Assign different point values for each ring. The player/team with the most points wins this Olympic event! While you’re at it, you may enjoy these other pool noodle games!
Frisbee Discus Throw: To play, simply purchase some frisbees and use them to see who can throw one the furthest. You can mark each player’s toss with a cone or simply have them stand on their spot where the frisbee lands. Discus is one of my favorite Olympic games and you will be surprised just how far some kids can throw a disc! Frisbees are cheap and available at most dollar stores or you can purchase inexpensive Frisbees on Amazon.). Also, try these other games with frisbees.
Marathon: This event can be perfectly paired with either of the suggested theme verses above to become the main event of the camp games. Athletic events such as an endurance-style run is simple but greatly depends on the age and activity level of your group. For smaller kids, it could be a short distance like running around a basketball court once. For teens, maybe one mile. You may even do this “relay-style” where a team of 4 runners competes against other teams of 4.
Olympic Theme Ideas
To really give your youth camp the Olympic feel you can use any or all of the following ideas:
Opening Ceremony: Assign campers into teams upon arrival to encourage the formation of new friendships. Let the teams “march in” to the auditorium or gymnasium together wearing matching t-shirts (or armbands or vests) on the first night of camp. You can even include an Olympic Torch Relay with campers from each team chosen to carry the torch. You can find instructions for a flameless torch here: Olympic Torch. Also, use this time to create Olympic medal name tags, and be sure to include the Olympic symbol!
Team-Building Events: It’s important to drive home the idea of teamwork and cooperation to teen campers. Having different events and exercises within the teams can create stronger bonds among team members and aid in their performance in the larger events. Try these 4 trust-building exercises.
Medal Ceremony or Closing Ceremony: Close your Olympic-themed youth camp on a grand note with a ceremony to recognize winning teams and/or individuals. Honor first, second and third places in events with inexpensive medals like the ones available on Amazon. Ribbons can be given for all participants or you can create specialized categories (Best Team Spirit, Most Enthusiastic, Best Attitude, etc.) to be sure everyone goes home with an award. Here are 3 more unique reward ideas to consider.
Olympic Song: What’s a good event without a theme song? Depending on the exact route you go with your messages. Consider an Olympic anthem to serve as your “theme song” for the week. Play it at each major event.
Olympic Scavenger Hunt: Give each group at the beginning of your event a photo scavenger hunt objective. Using their phone, they can take pictures of various Olympic event tasks. Adapt your scavenger hunt list to the specific campground your event is taking place at. You could include tasks such as taking a picture with a lake, sporting event, event speaker, the Olympic rings or torch, Bible passage for the theme, etc.
An Olympic theme youth camp can be a useful tool for getting teenage campers to participate in activities and make new friends. Teamwork, discipline, and endurance are all part of the Olympic spirit. Those ideas translate well to biblical principles in order to challenge teen campers both physically and spiritually.