It’s a good practice to switch up the “normal” club periodically. In the Spring, a fun, easy replacement is the traditional Young Life “Mall Hunt.” This “Find Your Leader” game works well if you consider a few important details:
1. Location, Location, Location
Find a mall kids like. I prefer outdoor malls. Kids are less likely to get “kicked out” of those and its fun to be outside in the Spring.
2. Get Permission
Talk to the store owner/managers ahead of time and let them know what you are doing. If there are certain stores that are anti, then ask kids ahead of time to not enter those stores.
3. Clear Place and Time
Designate a clear meeting point and time when the Hunt begins and a place and time to meet back after it is over.
4. Give Seniors Ownership
Since all the YL leaders will be hiding in stores, select a few seniors that you trust to be in charge at the beginning. Seniors will gather kids from 7:45-7:55, explain the rules, pass out the “Bingo Sheet” (see below) and remind kids not to be obnoxious and get kicked out, although they still will.
5. Costumes over Bathrooms
It would be easy to hide in bathrooms and dressing rooms of stores, but its more fun for kids if they are told that Leaders are not hiding in hard to find places, but in very public places. For instance, reading a book in Barnes and Nobles. The only way to pull that off is by the leaders having GREAT COSTUMES. Afro wigs probably won’t work here, because you would be easy to spot, so think outside the bun. I shaved my beard into a mustache and died it black, along with the rest of my blond hair. I wore all black and went emo. Another female leader made herself look pregnant and walked around with a guy she knew who posed as her husband and a kid she nannys. Another female leader dressed like a guy in a ball cap and overalls. Get creative.
6. Hide random things
In retrospect it would have been fun to hide random things such as a YL t-shirt on a store mannequin or a picture of the school principle, etc… You could add these and point values to them on the Bingo Sheet below.
7. Prizes, discounts, and TRADITION. End the night BIG by gathering at an ice cream place in the mall who you have spoken with a week ahead of time asking if they could provide 10% off if you brought 50 kids into their store on a week night. No brainer for them. Gather the kids in the store, let them buy their own ice cream, leaders reveal their costumes to the groups who didn’t find them, and the seniors who started the night present a special trophy to the winning team who gets their picture taken with the leaders in costumes. This is a fun tradition to start and kids will look forward to it each year! You could even offer a prize that the winning team gets to hide along with the leaders the following year.
Here is our “Find Your Leader” bingo sheet that was passed out to kids. Feel free to download it, edit it, and use it as your own.