Programming on the Cheap: After Hours Events

For the past year and a half, we’ve run a monthly after-hours program called Friday Night Madness. By far this is one of my more popular programs with 15-25 teens coming each month. Not only is it my most popular program, it is also the cheapest. For the year, we’re lucky if we spend $50 on the program.

So, what do we do doing the 2 – 3 hour event? Lots and lots of games. I’ll admit it’s a bit labor intensive. In fact, most nights I looked/felt like this by the end of the night. (One of my co-workers has taken it over for now, but I’m sure she’d agree at least a little!)

BUT the amount of love that the teens have for this event makes it all worth it. If you’ve been thinking about lock-ins, but are not ready for them, this is a great first step. It’ll give you the feel for the chaos after-hours event can bring without the staying up late/all night.

To get you started off right, here are a few games my teens love to play:

Candy Wars: Basically, this is a capture the flag game with a candy twist. You give the kids candy (kisses, cups w/MMs, etc) and their goal is get their candy into the other teams bucket. If a teen is tagged, their candy is eaten by the tagger and they have to go back to start/home bounds and get more candy. The team who has the most candy in their opponents bucket is the winner.

Human Foosball: I’ve seen this a couple of different ways, but we set up the kids in chairs. The set-up is a bit hard to explain, but the link has a video that makes it clearer. Basically the kids are in rows facing each other and then back to back with a goalie at either end. In the video, they used a kick-ball, but we used a balloon instead.

Humans vs. Zombies: All but two or three teens start off as human. The goal is to turn all the humans into zombies. The only ammo/defense allowed is for the humans in the form of ball-up sock. If a zombie is hit, they’re frozen for a set amount of time (usually 5 – 10 seconds.) I usually don’t allow running, so this is the only way for teens to get away before being zombie-fied.

Hunger Games: Okay, I’ll fully say this one can get violent, but I think it’s more my teens than the game. Each teen is given 3 clothespins; if tagged they have to give their clothespin to the tagger. Once they’re out of pins, they’re out of the game. I did allow alliances of 2 – 3 people, but then it had to be last man standing ala the Hunger Games. It’s honestly just a simple game of tag or assassins with Hunger Game story aspects; I still have no idea why this one gets so violent with my teens! But it’s totally a teen favorite even though I don’t let them play it often. (Also, I can’t remember where I first got this idea. So, if it’s yours let me know so I can give you credit!)

Murder: You may also know this as Mafia. I’ve played this game for years, but typically we’ve done it at a table w/cards. While we’ve done that style a couple of times, I’ve found the kids like the live-version more. In our version, we still hand out cards, but only as a way to designate who the murderer is in secret. You could even do this via slips of papers where the murders have an X or some other marking. I’ve found that 2 -3 murders usually work well. Once the teens know their role, they’re set loose to wander the library. The murderer is suppose to tap teen(s) on the shoulder to “kill” them. Once they’ve been tagged, they lay on the floor until another player discovers them and shouts “dead body”. Those who were “killed” get to tell/make up a story about how they died. Once all the stories have been told, we pick 3 people to accuse and then vote on who the group think the murder is. The game continues until they’ve caught all the murderers or there’s not enough people left to “kill”.

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