Ideas for Ice Breakers at a Teen Retreat

Icebreakers are interactive games and activities designed to take the awkwardness out of a whole bunch of teenagers thrown together at a retreat or gathering. They help teens learn each other’s name and get to know one another 1. Icebreakers also help teens find commonalities and ease the tension and anxiety of meeting new groups of people. Get the teenagers up, moving around and laughing as they break the ice with fun and games.

Birthday Line up

This activity challenges teenagers because they can’t talk once it begins. Ensure there is enough space for all of the teens to line up. Instruct the group that they are to line up by birthday month and day, without talking or writing it down. You’ll have to keep reminding them to remain quiet. They can use charades, hand signals or any other means of communicating. Don’t tell them how to accomplish the task because part of the bonding comes from letting them figure it out.

Find the Fiction

You don’t have to do much preparation ahead of time for this activity. Ask the teens to get in groups of four or five. Each person gets a scrap piece of paper large enough to write down two unbelievable facts and one believable truth, without allowing anyone to see their answers. When all participants have their responses, one person in each group reads the three statements to their group. The group then quickly discusses and decides which “fact” is the fiction. If the group finds the fiction, the author applauds the group. If the author fools the group, then the group applauds the author. The activity continues until each person has a turn to fool the group.

This is My Nose

Confusion and laughter builds as they learn each other’s names. It works best when the teens are sitting or standing in circles of five to 10. The kids tend to get bored waiting for their turn if they’re in groups larger than 10. The group leader begins by saying, “My name is (name) and this is my nose” and points to a different body part. The person to the right repeats, “This is (previous name) and this is my nose” and points to the same body part the previous person indicated. Then he adds, “My name is (name) and this is my (names another body part while pointing to yet a different part).” This continues around the circle accumulating names and body parts, until the person at the end of the circle has to name all of the people and their body parts along with their own name.

People Scavenger Hunt

You will need to prepare a handout with three columns for this activity. In the first column, put a list for the teen to name various favorite things like movies, songs, artist, color and food. In the middle column is the “self” column for them to write an answer to each of the favorites. The last column is for the written answers of their new friends. Give the teens a set amount of time -- use a timer -- to answer the questions in the “self” column. Once everyone has their answers, set the timer again and instruct the participants to mingle around the room looking for others who have the same answers. When they find someone who shares their same favorite, that person puts their name in the third column. At the end of the time, you can give a prize to the person who found the most matches. The teens now have a list of new friends who share their interests.