Running On Empty? Virtual Field Trips, Educational Links, and Game Ideas

Do you feel like you are running on empty as you try to navigate staying at home? I have some virtual field trips, educational links, and game ideas to help you out. I will do some outside ideas on a different post. Take a look around my website, content added weekly, and I have tons of ideas, videos, and things for you to try out with your child or for your own entertainment with friends/family. Beg, borrow, and steal ideas. We are all in this together!

Virtual Field Trips

1. Disney Theme Parks – Several virtual rides have been uploaded to YouTube. Just search Virtual Disney Rides. Check out this link for a great list as well

2. Museums – Check out this link to see ideas for 12 virtual tours.

3. Zoos – Who doesn’t love animals? Love the San Diego Zoo

Check out this great link for the 25 amazing virtual field trips for 2020.

Educational Links

1. Learn all about Dr. Seuss.

2. Science Fun –

3. Learn all about Animals –

Huffington Post just shared a cool article for free education links. Check this story

21 Fun Game Ideas

Dollar Drop: Have a kid stand up and hold their hands out with their palms facing. Hold a dollar bill over the opening in their hands. The object is for them to try and catch the dollar bill between their hands. If you don’t want to loose the dollar bill, make sure their hands are spread wide enough apart, and that you hold the dollar bill close enough to drop all the way through!

Starburst Taste: You can use starburst or any other flavored candy, have the kids close their eyes, unwrap a piece of candy for them and have them guess what flavor it is.

What’s In My Pocket/Bag: Think of something that is in your pocket/bag and have the kids try to guess what you are thinking of…It can really be in your pocket, or you can say you wish this item is in your pocket. Your key chain also works great. Ask them to guess what each key goes to.

Balancing: Have a balancing contest. Call up a couple kids and see who can balance on one leg the longest. Make it harder by adding things you have to close your eyes, or pat your head, and rub your stomach.

Who Wants To Be In My Club: Make a patterned hand movement. Call up one kid at a time to repeat what you have just done. Than can be an ongoing game throughout the day.

Going On A Cruise: Start off by saying, “My name is ______, _______ and I am going on a cruise. On this cruise I am going to bring a _____ and ______. These two items have to start with a certain letter of your name. The first item is in your first name and the second item is in your last name. (Ex. MY name is Dustin Williams and I am going to bring Doritos and Waffles.) Have the kids tell two things that they are going to bring. If the first letter of the two items they are bring are in the same place in their name as yours than they can go on the cruise with you!

What’s Different: Pick someone to go away from the room and change three things about their appearance that the group could see. Bring them back and see if they can guess what they changed.

Trivia: Kids love to learn anything about you. Ask them questions like what color car do I drive, foods, restaurants, sports teams, etc.. You can make the questions harder depending on their age.

Spin Catch: Get a tennis ball and have the kid bounce the ball on the ground, spin around one time and catch the ball. If they catch the ball, have them spin around twice and catch it. Switch it up and have them use one hand to catch it.

Claps: Have a kid grab a small ball (Gator Ball) and have them throw it in the air. While it’s in the air see how many times you can clap before it hits the ground. You must catch the ball too.

Cup Balance: Get a paper or plastic cup and fill it 1/4 of the way up with water. Have them sit with their legs crossed on the ground. Place the cup on their head and have them slowly try to get to a standing position. If they can do that, you can have them lay on their back, place the cup on their forehead and then try to get to a stand position. Challenging Variation:  They can’t use their hands to get them up.

Jump The Dollar: Get a dollar bill or any other object about the same size. Place it on the floor. Have a camper get real close to it, with their feet. Next have them grab the tip of their shoes then try to jump completely over the dollar without letting go of their shoes.

Keep Up The Balloon: Depending on how many kids or people you have, divide the kids into 2 or 3 groups or even just one group. See how long they can keep the balloon in the air. If one group’s balloon hits the ground, they have to sit and wait for the other group to finish. (You can’t catch the balloon, only hit it up.)

Balloon Relay: Have each couple only hold the balloon up with their chests, hips, or backs. Working together they must walk to the wall or cone and back. (They can’t use their hand, only after it hits the ground can they use their hands to put in back in place and continue the relay.)

Make Me Smile: Find someone who can keep a straight face. Pick a few kids to participate. Each kid gets one minute to act silly, say dumb things, to make that person crack a smile. The straight face person has to stare at them the entire time. The person trying to make them smile cannot touch  them at all. Variation – Have the straight face person hold water in their mouth, if they spit it out or dribbles out, they lose!

Intuition: Think of a number between 1 and 10, kind of a cereal, cartoon, or candy bar. Next, ask the kids “Who can tell me what_____ I am thinking about?” Let every one who raises their hand guess one a time. After each person has one guess, say everyone who said ____, stand up. You have good intuition.

Imitation: Pick a few kids and see who can do the best imitation of a particular animal, cartoon character, scary monster, or even a counselor. Use your imagination. The options are limitless.

Stand Up Fast: Have a few kids sit down on the ground with their legs crossed. When you say go, see who can get to their feet the fastest. Variation: This time, they can’t use their hands to help push themselves off the ground. They have to keep their hands on top of their head.

Act Out A Career: Simply have kids act out what they want to be when they grow up. They can’t make any sounds.

The Name Game: Divide the group/family into two teams. One person in each group must be designated to be the spokesperson, no one else in the group can yell out anything.  Have them name as many as they can: Cereals, Cartoons, Candy, Colors, Restaurants, Animals that begin with a certain letter (Choose one or make up their own category.) Go back and forth until one group cannot come up with an answer.

Relay Races: Tons of Variations! 1. Run 2. Skip 3. One Leg Hop 4. Walk Backwards 5. Hop Backwards 6. Crab Walk 7. Chicken Cluck 8. Baby Crawl 9. Holding Hands With Their Partner 10. Leap Frog 11. Rolly Polly 12. Summersault 13. Gallup 14. Bear Crawl

Thanks for stopping by. I add content weekly to this website and tons of ideas are located in the Resource Zone tab. Will add some outdoor activities soon!

Warphole – The Answer To Social-Distancing Fun!

A great game to try in your backyard and at any youth program is Warphole. It is different than playing corn hole! Their patented curved design makes this new game the most fun. With four distinct playing zones, Warphole creates a whole new playing experience for the whole family or youth program. The four zones are Slide, Launch, Target, and Drop.

This game is easy to move and store. It also uses the same bags and rules as cornhole. Go to and learn more. They are giving away four board sets over the next eight weeks! The standard set is $129.99. I will add this to the Vendor page on my website. Check this out to find more awesome ideas and games to make your program fire!

Lego Super Mario, The Perfect Combo. Name A Better Duo!

Image result for lego mario

Lego Super Mario is coming! I am not sure if kids or adults were more excited when this was announced. I grew up playing Nintendo and Legos. This is the perfect combination to make into something new for kids to explore and build. I see tons of creative juices flowing already once this comes out. So when does this come out and what is it actually?

There is no official release yet. Lego’s website is saying later this year. I predict closer to the holiday season. I can also see this being one of the hottest toys to buy for Christmas. So you better go to and enter your email so you know when this officially drops. For my youth programs folks, this is an awesome activity for your kids to design and have contests with. It may be a little pricey, but I can see a specific club around building legos, and integrating this game into your group. Lego advertises this product as…”Collecting coins, spinning through challenges and completing levels – it’s all part of the new LEGO® Super Mario™ play experience. Designers from Nintendo and the LEGO Group have worked together to bring LEGO Mario™ to life in a way that completely reimagines the world of physical LEGO building.” Perfect STEM/STEAM activity as kids can design and work together in teams. Since the product is still new, from watching the video, it appears that there are tons of variations you can build and create. The video game is coming to life! What a cool concept and activity for any youth program. Putting kids and staff in spaces to be creative!

I have included the promo video below.

Check out my website for more fun ideas to make your program 1 percent better!

Be A Mr. Jensen

I was at a meeting yesterday and a colleague of mine shared this video. In this crazy time we are living in, please take a look at this. It will definitely give you something positive to reflect on and make you smile today. This message is great for anyone working with kids, staff, or just people. If you don’t start your meetings or trainings with an ice breaker or mission moment, please start. It is important to get people focused and reflecting in this busy world. It is just a few minutes, but it can help your team’s productivity.

My Key Takeaways and Questions To Ask Your Team From This Video…

  1. We all struggle with something. How do you help someone find their confidence?
  2. Instead of always saying no, or finding the negative, how do you see the opportunity?
  3. People all learn in different ways? How can you change the way you teach or lead?
  4. Hopefully everyone that works with children, sees that everyone is unique. That’s the challenge. Working with children/people isn’t easy. They don’t always get it the first time. How do you show up when you lead?
  5. When has someone showed you patience? How did that make you feel?
  6. Do you remember someone teaching you something? It may not be like the video where you became a professional drummer, but do you remember that moment of someone taking the TIME to help you?
  7. What does this quote mean to you “There is a difference in being the best in the world and being the best for the world!”?

“A single moment of time can change a person’s life. This was one of those moments for me that I will never forget.”

Feel free to steal this video and devotion to share with your team. These are just my takeaways, feel free to add your own questions or style. I will add this to the Resource Zone on my website. Check out to learn more about his journey he is on right now.



Family Involvement/Committees

I did a post last year about getting families into programs and how this makes your program 1 percent better. As you continue to learn and see new ideas, I decided to do an update to my post from a year ago. I recently came across this picture from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The simple name change makes this more inclusive for all kids and no one is left out. For example, I have said “Donuts with Dad” and not all children have a Dad in their life. So change it up to be “Donuts With Grownups”. Continue to create that safe place in your programs and also continue to invite parents into your programs. They need to meet you and learn about your program and other staff. We need their feedback, and also their support. Kids love to introduce their family members to their friends too!

Parent Committees

Another fun way to get parent or family involvement is to creat parent committees. Once you start developing a relationship with that person, setup a few times during the year or Summer to see how they can deliver feedback to you and also help your program as a volunteer. Surveys are good, but nationally they say success is when about 23-25 percent fill it out. I think you can get more feedback if you talk to people, just takes more time. Same goes with emails, face to face conversation gets you more to work off of. One Summer I had great success, and had parents feed our staff during staff training. Besides no money being spent, the parents wanted to meet the staff that are working with their teen. They also wanted to express gratitude for giving their teen a job. Give the parent that opportunity! They will learn about you and the programs you are providing. We are seeing trends change, and enrollment moving up and down in different programs. Find out why, ask them what they want, and ask the kids too. You don’t have all the answers! I repeat you don’t have all the answers.

I will add this to the Resource Zone on my website. Check this out for more fun ideas!

To Save The World, Send A Kid To Summer Camp!

I came across this video the other day, and thought I would share with you! As we are getting into planning and promoting Summer Camp, this is a great message for everyone to hear. One of my favorite parts of this message…”When kids tell me that they love camp, they tell me that they feel that they can be themselves. At camp, kids navigate the world.” This is a great video to share with your staff leadership team and counselors. Camp is powerful, let them know that they are part of something special. Enjoy!

New Devotion – What Is Your Style?

This week I have seemed to found a theme of toddlers. Maybe it is because my 1 year old has almost figured out how to walk and he is everywhere right now. Check this video out of toddlers racing on a track and trying to figure out the hurdles. This is a great devotion or mission moment to share in a youth program or staff meeting/training. The video is only about 14 seconds long, but you have to watch it tons of times to see how many different ways the toddlers approached the hurdle!

What Is Your Style?

We all have our own style. Sometimes we forget this as leaders. We try to teach a certain way and think that everyone understands. Not everyone hears the directions the same way. I am a visual learner, so sometimes when someone is talking, I need to see it. When you plan your youth program, how do you create the environment to be a space that everyone can learn and grow. It sounds simple, but often we rush through and think that everyone knows what to do. Another fun example is playing games. Don’t play the same game over and over. Add a variation to it. You may see kids understand the game better because it has a new twist to it. In this hurdle video, everyone wants to do their own thing. You can’t just let kids go wild in your program, but how can you give them choices for their activities sometimes during the day. You will see creativity and behavior soar! Here are some questions to ask your group…

  1. What is your style?
  2. How do you like to learn? What makes things easier for you?
  3. Who did you first see in the hurdles the first time you watched?
  4. What is a game that we should add a variation to?
  5. How is our day to day schedule working? What can we improve?
  6. What is your favorite activity? Why?

Since I am a visual learner, I used a video clip for my devotion. This is one way to reach your group instead of just talking at them. Try to add visuals into your devotion time. I have included this devotion on my website and added to the Resource Zone. Check this out for more fun ideas to make your program 1 percent better.


If you need a new idea for youth programs, try Toddlerography! On The Late Late Show with James Corden, he had Justin Bieber on to help. A great idea to have your kids take the lead during assembly time. Kids are creative, and this gives them an outlet to let them shine. A simple practical way to create this is to have them on stage and everyone in assembly (large group) does exactly what the child does. All you need is music! As you can see from this video, make sure you stretch!

I have included this on my website. Check out the Resource Zone for more ideas to make your program 1 percent better. Happy Wednesday!

Staff Makes Your Program. Recruitment Strategies Are Key!


Recruiting and finding the right staff is key to a quality program. When you have this in place, your enrollment will continue to grow, and retention of campers will be strong. As a parent, I love to know that my child knows someone at camp. Besides the friends she makes, nothing makes you happier to hear how much she loves the teacher, counselor, or instructor. It is not easy finding great staff to work with children. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, this isn’t a joke job. These staff are learning serious professional job and life skills each day. We are also living in a world, where these teens are connected to their cell phone or computer all the time. Many forms of communication are not done in person, they are done through texting. The face to face communication and learning to work together is a huge skill that you will have to teach this new group of staff coming up. So how do you find the best staff besides just posting the job online? Make sure you mention the true value of working as a counselor and at the YMCA. What are the benefits besides getting paid?

I have listed a few things that I have done or stolen from other people. The key thing is to remember what it is like to be 16 or young again. Give them time to apply, get the position out there early, and this will also give you time to do some of these ideas below!

  1. Get away from your desk/computer, and go talk to them in person. Visit local schools. Talk to the career counselor and get them your information, student council/clubs, table in parking lot at Lunch if they leave school to eat or outside cafeteria if they stay on campus, and any other teacher/current staff you can talk to that will help promote the job.
  2. Visit local church youth groups or Young Life if you have a chapter in your area. These have great teens, and also keep in mind that not all teens go to public schools.
  3. If you have a YMCA facility, advertise to your membership. Many parents have neighbors or teens of their own looking for jobs. Put up flyers, have a recruitment table in your lobby like you would do at a school.
  4. Talk to your staff. Give them flyers, have them talk to their friends. Some of your staff are in college, even though it is not close to your YMCA, they may reach someone that lives in your area. If you don’t communicate the job, they will not know it is an option.
  5. Use your personal and program social media platforms. Advertise to your networks, it takes one time for someone to scroll and share the post with someone. When you are using social media, try and use a picture of your actual camp like I did in this post. Let the applicant see the fun that is actually happening.
  6. Try and setup group interviews. Many times in jobs, you may never hear back or get an interview. With group interviews, everyone gets a chance to be interviewed. Even if they don’t get the job, you are using your platform to train them and get them ready for their next step.
  7. Have an incentive plan. If we hire 1-2 of your friends, you can earn swag or something fun. I would have never worked at the YMCA if my friend didn’t tell me about it.

Parents choose and return to camp because of the staff. If they have a great experience, they are likely to come back. Many of the surveys I see are parents shouting out specific staff members they really loved. You can spend all the money you want on supplies, but if you don’t have the right people executing those games/programs, you just have a camp that looks good. That will get old very quickly for your parents and especially your campers.

I often hear or have seen from other colleagues that I don’t have enough time in my day to do these recruiting ideas. Many of these are not executed during your After School program time, they are done early or in the middle of the day. You can make time, and more importantly you need to make time. As you have seen in this post, staff is key to everything. I have also heard, how do you hire young high school staff? They seem to be too young or immature for the role. Actually, I have seen the opposite. It is all in how you hire, and then train that staff member. Just because you are in college/older, doesn’t always guarantee that they will be more mature or a better staff member.

Feel free to email and share any of your ideas to me around recruitment and finding the best staff. I will post this on my website in the Resource Zone. I will do a post in a few weeks on why an enrollment/marketing plan is important, and then also how to lead the best staff trainings since you have hired these new all stars. Summer 2020 is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Take it one step at a time, and make sure you are getting prepared early!




Qubits is a STEM/STEAM style building set created by Lisa and Mark Burginger. This toy is produced in North Carolina and is a great addition to any youth program. Qubits are fantastic building tools for Preschool/Elementary/Middle/High School aged students. This is also a great staff training tool to build teamwork and communication. STEM/STEAM building kits like Qubits can teach simple lessons like cause and effect, and help students develop skills that will support them in their future studies and careers, both in STEM and other fields. Through STEM and STEAM, students can learn to solve problems through teamwork, data collection and analysis, and their own curiosity. Qubits has been part of 160 Donors Choose projects that have added up to over $120,000! They have won several awards and even been on Shark Tank. To learn more about Qubits, visit their website at Their products are also available on Amazon 

I will add Qubits to the Vendor section on my website. I also have a Resource Zone if you need more fun ideas to help your program 1 percent better!