Dumb Debates: Easy, Low Prep Activity Idea for Teens and Tweens

Not long before I made the move from a local Club to BGCA, I started playing a game with my middle grades members that they LOVED. I adapted it from something I heard on a podcast and called it Dumb Debates. It is hilarious and ridiculous, but sneaks in the important skills of logical thinking, crafting arguments, and public speaking.

Dumb Debates

Ages: 10 and up

Equipment: Small pieces of paper with random things written on them, for example squirrels, apple pie, airplanes, history books, llamas, etc. For more youth voice, have them write the ideas!

Group Size: Any, but only two will debate at a time

For this game, two members will go head to head. Each will draw a random item from the papers, and then they will debate each other in three rounds to prove that whatever they drew is the best.

For example, a showdown may consist of grilled cheese vs. surfboards.  During the first round, each member will explain the virtues of their item for 15-30 seconds (Adjust the time depending on the age and skill level of your group, and consider giving them a few seconds to think about their arguments. 30 seconds is a LONG TIME!). “Grilled cheese is the best because it is food, which we need to survive. It has protein in the cheese which helps give energy…” “Surfboards are the best because they allow us to ride the waves, which is a very fun hobby. Surfing is a great form of exercise, which can help us to stay healthy…”

In the second round, each member will directly respond to the other person’s argument  for 15-30 seconds. For example, “Grilled cheese is better than surfing because you can exercise in so many other ways, and they are only good for people who live by oceans. ANYONE can eat grilled cheese….” “Surfboards are better than grilled cheese because cheese has a high fat content and isn’t good for you in large quantities. Plus not anyone can eat it, some people are lactose intolerant or vegan…”

Then, each member gets 10 seconds to make their closing argument. They can respond to what the other person said or they can introduce a new reason. After both have gone, the members watching will vote on which person made the most convincing argument.

I strongly encourage you to model, especially the first few times you play. Draw a paper yourself and demonstrate how to make an argument with the timer, showing how to stretch out an answer and the kinds of things to say. Also fun? Get another staff in the room and battle it out, with youth choosing the winner!

Always reflect! Ask members:

  • What did you enjoy about this game? Was there anything you didn’t enjoy?
  •  How did it feel to be in the spotlight?
  • If you could change something about this game, what would it be?

Share your activity ideas with the Movement! Comment below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email ClubXBlog@bgca.org and YOU could be on the Club Experience Blog!


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