The first time you are asked to run games for a bunch of youth – be it at a youth group, a camp, or anywhere else, you are going to make mistakes. Not because you lack effort, not because you lack natural ability – but simply because you lack the experience of having done it earlier.

They say “there’s no teacher like experience”, but they never said the experience had to be your own. So from my experience, here are 3 blunders of game leaders – in hopes you can avoid the experience yourself.

Blunder #1. Playing the Game Too Long

This is the best way to kill a great game for a long time. I have played (and led) many a game that went too long. What starts as a great game quickly becomes a great drag. You’re tired of playing, the enthusiasm is gone, you just want it to end – but it doesn’t. It goes on and on and on. Finally, when it’s over, you never want to play that game again.

Want to know the secret to a game that everyone will want to play again and again? End it early. Don’t play it until they’re ready to quit. End it while they still want more. Then when the next time rolls around, they’ll be begging you to play that great game they played last time.

Blunder #2. Not Planning Enough Games for Your Time

If there is on thing I’ve learned about planning games is to plan way more games than you think you’ll have time to play. Too often I’ve planned what I thought was enough games for two hours only to be done in one. Then what to do?! It’s much better to have three games planned that you never get around to playing, than having to make up stuff on the spot for an hour.

When planning most games, plan for about 1 game every 15 minutes (Keeping in mind Blunder #1). Of course some games will take much longer – but by having extra games planned, you won’t get caught with lots of time and no games.

Blunder #3. Taking a Vote to See What Game to Play

At first, you might disagree with me on this one. After all, doesn’t it make sense to play the games that they want to play? Well, yes and no. Most often votes are not unanimous. That means that when you vote for which game to play, no matter what game wins, there will always be those who didn’t want to play ‘that game’. Not being able to play “their” game dampens enthusiasm and worst, could lead to bad attitudes/poor sportsmanship. By making an executive decision yourself, you avoid the entire conflict.