Teen lock-ins provide a safe way for kids to have a good time throughout the night and into the wee hours of the morning. Parents know their children are out of harm’s way, and kids get to enjoy themselves without the unhealthy temptations that unsupervised parties and other teen gatherings often offer. Plan an array of activities to keep teenagers engaged and entertained in ways that are constructive yet fun.
Icebreaker activities start the night off right by bringing everyone together and encouraging teens to get to know each other better. Split teens into groups of three or four and provide each group with a large sheet of roll paper and markers. Instruct each group to trace an outline of a volunteer’s body onto the paper. Once the outline is complete, encourage group members to list likes and interests next to the coordinating body parts. Favorite movies to watch should go next to the eyes, while music should go next to the ears. Food should go next to the stomach, and so on. Encourage kids to get creative with the activity. Once the profiles are complete, hang them on the walls and encourage each group to discuss shared interests with everyone else. Another icebreaker game that will encourage mingling is the “Group Swap” game. Challenge teens to see how many groups they can fit into by designating a group area and calling out simple qualifiers in rapid succession over a 5- or 10-minute span. “Green eyes,” “telephone numbers ending in 6” and “names with the letter C” are just a few of the qualifiers you can use to play this game. The object is for the kids to quickly move in and out of the groups to see what they have in common with others.
Coordinate high-energy challenge activities while the night is still young and before teens become restless. Lock-ins held in gymnasiums, auditoriums or other large spaces are perfect for games of tag or relay races. For libraries, schools or other spaces with ample hiding places, play the “Aliens” variation of hide-and-go-seek. Choose two players to be “laser guns” and another two players to be “aliens.” Instruct these players to go hide somewhere within the designated area. After one minute, allow the remaining players to hunt the hiders. The object of the game is to catch an “alien” with a “laser gun,” meaning that the hunters have to first find one of the “laser gun” players and then take him along to find and catch an “alien” and win.
Thrills and Chills
Use the things that go bump in the night to your advantage when hosting a teen lock-in by planning spooky activities between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. Shut off all the lights, pass around a few flashlights and read ghost stories, or screen a viewing of a scary PG-13 movie. Gather kids into a circle and have them wear blindfolds. Then, pass around bowls containing ordinary items and encourage kids to reach inside and feel. Inform the group that they are touching something gross, or encourage them to determine what icky thing it might be. A bowl of cold, wet spaghetti, for example, could be intestines, while a few peeled grapes might feel like human eyeballs.
Plan quiet bonding activities for the remaining troopers who’ve made it into the wee hours of the morning without falling asleep. Place teens in groups of two and provide a 12- or 24-piece puzzle to each pair. Blindfold one of the partners and encourage the other partner to help him complete the puzzle, using only the directions of his partner. Try trust falls, which force kids to let go of their fears and trust in the others around them.
Debra Pachucki has been writing in the journalistic, scholastic and educational sectors since 2003. Pachucki holds a Bachelor's degree in education and currently teaches in New Jersey. She has worked professionally with children of all ages and is pursuing a second Masters degree in education from Monmouth University.