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Deadwood Saloon for Youth Group.

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Deadwood Saloon for Youth Group.

Postby WillMitchell » Fri Mar 23, 2012 8:25 am

My name is Will and I am the youth minister here at the 1st UMC in Holton, Kansas. We hosted our first ever murder mystery this month and it was a huge success. In fact, our youth group has doubled in size since we hosted this party. Kids talked about it at school for weeks after words.

First, I sent out invitations to the kids and letters to their parents. The parents were a great part of the evening’s success. They provided so many items and even showed up in customs to help serve dinner and work the bar. We even had one who played the piano for us. Next, I transformed our church into a Wild West shootout thanks to the many props listed on the website. The background props and scene setters did a great job of adding to the realism. The parents provided wagon wheels, hay bales, saddles, and even a very cool Texas Longhorn head. I found a cardboard cut out of John Wayne. The kids and even adults loved to get their picture with “The Duke” using a desert scene setter.

We decorated the Fellowship Hall of our church into the saloon. An old-time piano was moved in the corner and played saloon music all night. The kitchen was transformed into the bar using cowhide and bar stools. Then we hung a Deadwood Saloon sign made out of old barn wood. The bar served bottled ICB root beer and sparkling grape juice in fancy wine glasses. I placed three gold coins in each characters “A” packet so they could use these to buy drinks during the night. A corner closet was transformed into a jail using barn wood plastic sheeting and metal door provided from the parents. The kids were allowed to pay a bounty hunter (one of the parents) to put the other characters in jail for up to five minutes. They loved this. We even had a person taking free “jail” pictures for those who were arrested.

I took the ideas listed on the website for the meal and snacks. Our parents served chili in metal camp fire plates. The drinks were brought out in mason jars. We served tea and water but when the kids asked for water we put just a little tea in it to make it look like the dirty water they would have had in the Wild West. This got a few laughs and protests. The corn bread was brought in on wooden plates like they do at Texas Roadhouse. It was delicious. The snack table was decorated with cowhide and full of cactus cake, blueberry pie, and the best chips-n-dip you could ask for.

The game itself worked really well. The kids came up with great costumes and props. Some of the kids even wore outfits that were family heirlooms passed down from generations. I was amazed at how easily the kids were able to complete their tasks. Some are very shy but still did great. The end of the night was caped off with the awards show. I had asked local businesses to help sponsor prizes to the winners of the mystery. To the kids who guessed the right murderer we put their name in a hat and gave a prize. The winner of the best dressed was given the award along with a 25 dollar gift certificate. The winner of the best performer was given an academy award trophy and also another 25 dollar gift certificate. Overall, this was a lot of fun, a lot of work for me, but really fun. Thank you so much.
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