"A year ago, I sat down to plan summer events for Remedy Church . . . I especially wanted to plan an event which would be fun for all ages and bring families together. I racked my brain for weeks trying to plan the perfect event. Just when I thought I wasn’t going to have any ideas, the Amazing Race came on the television.
If you haven’t watched The Amazing Race, the concept is simple. Pairs of contestants race literally around the world. As they move from country to country they have to follow clues and complete sometimes silly and often unique challenges as they compete against other teams. With each clue and task the team completes they receive a new clue. At the end of each show a team may be eliminated until there are only three teams racing for the million dollar prize! As I watched each team compete there was a common thread between them all; they enjoyed the time spent competing with their teammate. With teams consisting of parents and children, brothers and sisters, dating couples and best friends, everyone genuinely enjoyed the competition.
In that moment, I knew this was the idea I had been searching for. What started as a simple hour-long event, turned into an all day competition between the families from Remedy Church. The rules were simple…
- Take the provided list of clues and find each location.
- Travel to every location and take a family picture at each one.
- But don’t forget to complete any of the tasks on the way.
Families not only received points for each picture taken at the correct locations, but also for creative pictures along the way. The first family to the finish before the set time limit received an additional 15 points!
With every event, there are always key elements which must be taken into consideration. Here are a few essential elements which will help make your Amazing Race a success with the families in your church….
- LOCATION! - You can make this event as big as you like. We set it up last summer all around the surrounding city where our church is located. Whether families are all stationed in one central location racing to the finish or spread out all over the city, the right location can make your event a success.
- THE PRIZE - While the main "prize" for this event is the opportunity for families to enjoy a fun and unique opportunity to spend time together, a prize at the end adds to the excitement. The prize needs to be something fun which involves the entire family. Our church meets in a movie theater, so we gave away gift certificates to the first, second, and third place families. This not only gave families a goal to focus on, but gave them an opportunity to share some quality time with each other.
- POINT SYSTEM - The point system can change the ebb and flow of the race. Take this scenario for example. If each picture taken at every location is worth five points, most families will end up with the same point totals. To help with this problem, I suggest adding some creativity points into the race. At Remedy Church, we gave families the opportunity to score more points by taking fun and visually creative pictures at the locations.
- CLUES - This by far is the most important element of The Amazing Race. If you make the clues to the locations too hard, the families won’t be able to find them. If you make them too easy, every family will end up with the same number of points. The key is to find the balance in between. A clue which stumps most families, but not all of them, could be the deciding factor between first and second place.
Here are some additional ideas which may help make your Amazing Race more fun for all ages…
- Have families pick colors. Give them creativity points for supporting their team colors!
- Include hidden clues in the race which families may receive extra points for by answering trivia questions.
- Select locations which hold special memories for families (Like the local zoo or museum).
- Involve as many people as possible. This is the perfect opportunity to get your whole church involved in making the event a memorable moment for families.
- Most importantly, have fun with the creative process. Some of these ideas may not mesh well with your demographic. Pick and choose the elements which will make your church’s Amazing Race a success."
Thank you Derek for sharing this great idea! If you decide to use this event in your church, remember, as Derek suggests, to feel free to modify and tweak it to make it the best "fit" for your church and community!
Now for some ideas on how to plan a Family Amazing Race on a shoe-string -
- Approach area businesses, explain your event and ask if they would be willing to donate a gift certificate - or specific item to use for a prize. Most will!
- Approach area restaurants and ask if they would be willing for you to use their restaurant as one of the "locations" for your race. For example, if an area restaurant serves cookies and fries, you could have a clue which sends racing families to the restaurant where they would have to have their youngest team member choose between "one sweet cookie" or a "small fry". For "one sweet cookie" the youngest team member would have to take a cookie and without using their hands move the cookie from their forehead to their mouth - they could have three tries and then the next youngest could try, etc until the team succeeds - or the youngest team member would have to eat a small order of fries. Once the task is completed, the team would receive their next clue. The restaurant would need to be willing to donate cookies/fries and have an employee hand out clues. It would be lots of fun and great exposure for the restaurant and their customers - sure to have the community talking for weeks and even months!
Think about the businesses in your community and approach them to see if they would be willing to donate a prize item and/or have their business be a "stop" on your race! This will take time, but if you have more time than money, the time you spend will be well worth it as families from your church and community race through your community on your Family Amazing Race!