Whether they're being camp counselors during the summer or exchange students for the whole school year, teens are always on the go. Going away parties are a great excuse for everyone to get together. Planning a party for teenagers is different than planning a party for either children or adults; teens don't need the minute-by-minute scheduling that kids do, but there need to be a few well-chosen activities so they won't just sit staring tongue-tied at each other. Party games are a perfect way to break the ice.
Mall Scavenger Hunt
A party doesn't have to be held in somebody's living room; get everyone together for a game in their favorite hangout—the mall. Break the party into groups and make sure each group has some money, a cell phone and a camera. Give them a time limit and a list of things to collect or photograph before it's time for everyone to meet up at the food court and compare notes. Have them find things like “a picture of someone in the group on a kiddie ride,” “three different colors of shoelaces,” or “a receipt from the most expensive store in the mall.” All lists should include "photo booth shots of each of you," because you will collect these photo strips in an album for the guest of honor as a souvenir of the friends left behind.
Throw a "bouncing Around the country" going-away party for a teen who will spend the summer traveling. You may think that inflatable castles are only for little kids, but they have that mix of active and silly that teenagers find irresistible. You can rent a “bounce house” or an inflatable water slide for hours of shrieking fun—and if the going-away party is also a slumber party, the teens can sleep in the inflatable house, too. While you're at the rental store, pick up a couple of those giant inflatable sumo “suits” so the party-goers can engage in some hilarious sumo wrestling bouts. Have everyone sign a blow-up beach ball for the guest of honor; she can send her friends photos of herself holding the ball in various tourist locations during her travels.
It's common knowledge that teenagers have their own lingo, which is why this game works so well at their parties. Let them chat as they normally do, but announce at the beginning of the evening that a certain word is off-limits for the night. It should be a word associated with the guest of honor's destination, since that will figure largely in the conversations--pick something like "camp," "France" or "Stanford." Give each guest a handful of colorful Mardi Gras necklaces to wear; any time someone uses the off-limits word, the first person who catches the slip can take one of their necklaces. At the end of the night award a prize to the person who's collected the most beads; the necklaces serve double-duty as party favors.