Last Friday, our ministry tailgated two of the biggest games of the season. I got to admit, we were a little nervous about how well this was going to go over. We tried to do tailgates about 5 years ago but they just weren’t working so we cut them. But, with our huge focus on campus outreach this year, we thought it was worth another try.
We decided to learn from our past and completely reinvent how we did tailgate parties. The first big difference was our location. This year, we held our parties at parks that were near the schools. We did this for a few reasons… well one reason, the schools said no. It was a frustrating thing to hear because there are so many people that tailgate on campus anyway, but we would rather call and get a “no,” than to go and hurt the reputation of our ministry. Because of that, we ended up doing out parties at the parks, and we loved it! Having it at a park let us do more activities (ultimate Frisbee, Football, Spikeball, etc.) that kept students at the event, giving us more relational opportunity. While having the tailgate in the campus parking lot would have given us a more convenient location, I feel like students would have grabbed food and left, giving us little face time with students.
As far as the event itself, we kept it simple and fun. The games that we tailgated for were the big rival games so we made sure to capitalize on their school spirit. We decorated everything in school colors! We had the balloons, tablecloths, streamers… the whole bit. We even set up a “War Paint” booth, where students could get their face painted for the game that night! Once students started coming over, we handed out some Frisbees, footballs, volleyballs, set up a game of Spikeball, and threw a dance party in the parking lot. We fueled them up for the big night by giving them pizza, cupcakes, cookies, chips, soda, and anything else that we found cheap. The event as a whole was super fun and super easy.
I am so happy with how it all turned out. We got to meet so many new students and got to make some awesome memories with our regulars! Tailgates can be a great outreach opportunity and can work for a ton of ministries out there because there are so many different ways to do them. I’m already thinking of ways to take ours to the next level!
Has your ministry tailgated a game before? How did you do it?
Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Director at Saddleback HSM. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.