Written by Lydia Smith, volunteer leader in Birmingham, AL.
When the invitation “Just come, you’ll love it” doesn’t attract kids to club, Kidnap Club can be the safe surprise to help kids get their friends to experience the unexplainable.
Here’s the idea: Everybody comes to club at the usual time. We give everyone about 10 minutes to arrive and then we quickly give them the orders – “Call your friends and ask them what’s they’re doing. If they say, ‘nothing,’ tell them ‘not for long,’ and then go get them and bring them to club.”
Kids get points for every friend they ‘kidnap,’ usually one point per kid, and one bonus point if the kid is a) a freshman or b) has never been to club before. We give them 30 minutes to get as many friends as they can and return to club. We have at least two leaders stay behind waiting to welcome kids and score points as they arrive.
We typically ask a leader who can be serious and just a little intimidating to explain the ground rules, including the most important one of all: kids behind the wheel must drive safely. Here are some other rules that are important to clarify up front:
- No double buckling. Teams are disqualified if they have more kids than seats in their car.
- Speeding tickets or any other traffic incident (fender benders) disqualifies them, too. (Obviously!) Basically, we just tell them how super careful they need to be.
- No actual kidnapping. (Do we really have to explain that?) Some boys in our area put a pillowcase over a kid’s head when they nabbed him. While the team might have scored a point for the kid, their methods didn’t score points with his parents.
- Teams have to return on time. They’re disqualified if they’re late.
The few leaders that stay back have music playing as they welcome new kids, tally points and hand out raffle tickets. Once everyone returns we go straight into club, announcing the winner at the end. We usually plan a big group mixer that gets everyone involved so new kids feel no distinction between the “Young Life kids” and the “apprehended.” And we also eliminate the game to save time since the kidnapping itself takes a while. (And it helps if you hold club in a place with easy access and plenty of parking—and with a room to accommodate the number of additional kids who will be there.)
Last semester, we let the kids know it was Kidnap Club and some of them dressed in all black which was fun. So this semester we’re going to promote this club as “Blackout” themed without any additional detail.
Kidnap Club is a really cool opportunity for leaders to meet new kids, so we encourage leaders to grab one or two kids and drive a car themselves. It’s also a good night to bring club cards for kids to fill out so leaders can follow up with the kids they’ve just met. The event is also a great time to bring camp fliers and play a camp promo video.