The Great Mattress Race

Looking for a great event to do with your teens that is a little out-of-the-box, but tons of fun?


I am blessed with an amazing activities staff on my NextGen team. And when they planned this event, we had lots of people asking about how to reproduce it. All it takes is a few twin mattresses (enough for each team), students divided into teams of 4 to 10, at-most (depending on the size of your group), students or leaders with picture/video capturing devices on each team, and a little creativity and planning before the event.

We had 30 attend our event (in the video above and pics below) so we divided into 3 teams, each with an adult leader who traveled with them for the duration of the event.

The race is just that — a race! So tell the teams that the first place winners will receive 75 points, 2nd place, 50 points, and 3rd place, 25 points. After that, each team receives a mattress, which must be carried with them at all times, and a list of around 20 bonus photo/video challenges. The bonus challenges are optional, but each add a certain number of points for each task accomplished, so they could be a game-changer.

From the starting point, racers must stop and snap pics with their whole team and mattress at 3 pre-determined check points along the way. So, in other words, your team can pick the general area of town you want to play by picking your check points and creating a natural perimeter of sorts as your teams race to the finish line, picking up bonus points along the way.

Because our team had canvassed the area before the event, a majority of the bonus points had to do with landmarks between the check points we had set. For instance, some of our challenges:

  • Take a picture with a buffalo (there is a buffalo statue on our Main Street) – 15 points
  • Take a picture with an American flag – 10 points
  • Take a picture in front of a laundromat – 10 points
  • Take a picture in front of a white picket fence – 10 points
  • Take a picture at a museum – 15 points
  • Take a video of your mattress going down a slide – 20 points
  • Take a picture in the bushes – 10 points
  • Take a picture in an alley – 15 points

These worked beautifully because they were all within the natural boundaries we had picked by carefully setting our check points.

Then, you’ll want to add some fun challenges that have nothing to do with the neighborhood, too. Challenges such as…

  • Take a video of a total stranger jumping on your mattress – 40 points
  • Take a picture with a police officer – 50 points
  • Create a crime scene with your mattress – 35 points
  • Take a video of your mattress doing a kickflip at the skate park – 35 points

You get the idea… the more creative, the more fun it has the potential to become!

A fun twist to the game, our activities director was driving around in his vehicle and whenever he came within 50 feet of the teams, the whole team had to stop whatever they were doing and jump up-and-down on the mattress until he gave the “all clear”.

Such a great time! We did this in the downtown area of our small town and had the whole town talking about it — haha!

For some more reference, here’s our event pics mixed in with the unedited team pics taken from the big race…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At the end of the race, award teams according to their placement in the race first, and then add the bonus points accrued as well. Whoever has the most points at the end wins!

If you have any questions you want to ask, for clarity, check in with my amazing activities guy, Pastor David Van Hoesen. He’d be glad to help!