What is a lock-in? A group gathering in which you are locked in a building. It may include food, games or movies but not much sleeping.
Lock-ins are a staple for youth ministries or Girl and Boy Scout troops. When a lock-in goes well, it can create great memories. If it goes bad, it can become a disaster, quickly! When planning a lock-in, keep these 6 keys in mind to ensure it is a success!
Children, much like small armies, march to the tune of their growling tummies. If you have enough food on hand, then you have a happy group of children but if your food runs out, you will probably prefer to be surrounded by a group of soldiers. Trust me, in this situation, it is much better to have leftovers than to run out of food.
No questions about it, you HAVE to have a game plan. You also need a plan of what games you are going to play. Every moment of the long night should be filled with some sort of entertainment. If you have too much down time between activities then you will lose the interest of all participating kids. The best lock-ins take several days to plan. It is never too early to start thinking about the games you want to play and what you will need to play them.
Having a schedule is just as important as having a plan, but don’t confuse the two. When you have a clear idea of what you are going to do (the plan) and when (the schedule), it becomes much easier to keep all of your kids in line. If you have things under control then they will follow your lead. Show one minute of weakness and you are doomed. While a schedule is necessary, you also have to be flexible. If the kids are having a good time at something, the last thing you want to do is tell them they have to stop because your “schedule” says they have to.
If kids are the heart and soul of a lock-in, then games are the backbone. This is why the kids are there, you will need a lot of them. When you are scheduling your games, keep the time in mind. More mentally stimulating games should be played at the beginning while those that don’t take much thought or energy should be played in the middle of night. Your kids will want to be answering trivia questions at 4 a.m. Ice-breaker games at the start of your lock-in is also a good idea. This will force the kids to interact with those that they may not know as well.
- Mandatory Participation
Depending on the age group of your lock-in participants, they may think they are too “cool” to play games. And let’s face it, once kids reach a certain age they just want to sit around and do nothing. If you let some do it then eventually you will find that everyone is just sitting around instead of participating in the games that you worked tirelessly to plan. How do you prevent this from happening? Make them play! Once they start, trust me, they will enjoy themselves!
When you get a group of people together, kids or adults, very little sleep takes place. This is especially true for lock-ins, in fact, it’s a rule. At most lock-ins sleeping is NOT allowed. With that being said, some people just need sleep! This may, more often than not, mean the adults take turns napping. Let’s face it, we aren’t as young as we used to be! If we stay up all night with a bunch of teenagers, it would take us weeks to recover. Of course, since most lock-ins take place in a church, the likelihood of a bed being nearby is slim to none (and slim took a vacation). So what’s an easy fix? An adult-size cot, of course! These are perfect for churches to have on hand for lock-ins or emergency situations.
In conclusion, good luck! You are going to need it! In fact, it might not be a bad idea to go ahead and purchase a medical cot, just in case you are bed ridden for a few days following your hugely successful lock-in!