each year as we usher in a new group of preteens (5th graders) we try to make an intentional effort to get to know them, help them grow closer to one another, and help them grow closer to God. we call this event mission smasH. (our 5th grade name is smasH – students’ ministering and serving Him.)
i am attaching the schedule below and will give a brief description of what that activity looks like.
- 6pm- arrive: check in at the dawson kids greeter stand
- kids get name tags & pizza in snack room.
- welcome, prayer, and intro to mission smasH – the rules to mission smasH are very simple. the adult chaperones will not answer any questions from the 5th graders. the adults are there to help keep the kids safe and to chaperone, but the kids are challenged to work together to complete each mission throughout the night.kids will work through a series of cd clues that will be hidden in different areas of the church. the kids have to elect a leader and the leader is in charge of making sure they always have the cd player and Bible. the clues spell out the instructions for each mission. (we did try to upgrade to something more modern than cds, some kids don’t know how to use them, but we haven’t found the right thing yet.)
clue hidden in smasH ball and bandana room. – this clue is hidden in a room that has a circle made out of bandanas on the floor.(the bandanas are in the color of the smasH group – each year has a different color.) in the middle of the circle is a large playground ball with the word smasH written on it as well as the name of each child attending that night. kids are given the rules of the smasH ball. these are also simple, but it sure gets complicated and fun as the night goes on.
the smasH ball has to have a 5th grader’s palm on it at all times, even when going through other activities and missions. the only exception is that each chaperone can hold it once during the night. all kids have to have had their palm on the ball at some point in the night. if at any point a chaperone sees the ball without a palm on it for more than three seconds (the chaperone will count aloud) the kids have to add another palm. some years the kids are focused and have great strategy. some years they end up needing eight palms on the ball.
after they hear about the ball they are giving a teamwork challenge. (they do have to make sure to get their flashlight to take with them for the next challenge.) the smasH leader, that was voted on by their peers in the first room, will pick a helper of the opposite gender to assist them as they are challenged to lead the entire ground downstairs blindfolded to a room behind the sanctuary. kids usually get in some sort of train with arms on the shoulders in front of them. oh how eye opening it is for the group when they complain about people talking and not listening. ultimately to kids work together to get to their next destination.
clue in foyer behind sanctuary – once the group makes it safely to the foyer behind the sanctuary they can take off their bandanas and look for the next cd clue. this pre-recorded clue calls on a child to read matthew 5:14-16. we then have a devotion with the children about how as believers they are to be a light in the darkness. they are then instructed to take out their flashlights are are guided into the dark (it works best if it is perfectly dark) sanctuary.
before the night began we have ordered smasH shirts – they are always same design tye dye – just a different color each year. we have taken that shirt and put an smasH student info sheet inside it and rolled it up and put tape on the outside with their name on it. then we take all the& shirts and hide them in the sanctuary. we try to stay off the platform or away from instruments.
once inside the dark sacntuary, they are told they have to be completely silent and use their light to find their shirt. if they find someone else’s shirt they cannot take it to them. they can find that person and take them to the shirt but not the opposite way around. when kids find their shirt, they bring it to the sanctuary lobby and open it. rolled inside is a smasH student info guide. it includes info like their school, their favorite Bible story, what they want to learn in their smasH year, etc. after they complete this, they put on their shirt for they “mug shot.” we use this pic to put on the card for their secret prayer partner.
8pm- mugshots in shirts/ info sheets (lobby) – after they finish with mug shots and sheet, go to the vestibule steps for a group picture
Clue in lobby
8:45pm- make masks (266)
the mask activity, asks kids to gather around a table with a blank white, plastic mask. they are told to draw or write things on their make that they want people to believe about them, even though they may not be true. (i.e. i’m always happy, i’m not scared, etc.) after kids decorate their mask they share with the leader assigned to their table how they may wear a ;”mask” sometimes.
we then assign a student to read 1 samuel 16:7. we talk about how God isn’t looking at the outside but the inside. we also share with them that so many people come to church like everything is okay, when it really isn’t. we challenge them to be real with one another during the year.
then we give each table group a pair of scissors. we invite the kids to say “i will not wear a mask this smasH year” and then to cut their mask in half. they are to take home their half mask as a reminder.