Lock Them In and Send Them Out

Teenage girls leaning against a wall with teenage boys behind them

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, exams, and Christmas Break on the way, as youth leaders we know that something has to be on the docket to close out the semester!  Instead of fighting the crazy schedules and homework, let’s work with the natural flow of the season.  It’s the perfect time to do a lock-in!  

I know some of you may of sworn off doing lock-ins due to that one time a middle school student duct taped a leader to a wall and force fed him donuts. However, I think you should give it one more try, and here’s how you do it!

1) Last Day of School

On the last day of school plan a lock-in for that night starting at 9pm.  It is a great way to end the semester and celebrate. The timing is perfect because you know students will still be in town but not studying!

2) Sleeping is Actually Discouraged

I know this may sound like torture staying up all night, but if you are going to be up all night watching that one student who had 3 Monster drinks before he arrived, then everyone might as well stay up! Have guys and girls rooms for their belongings and as back up sleep places for the 2 stragglers that just can’t make it all night.

3) Shifts, Shifts, Shifts

There will need to be a crew of leaders (including yourself) who will stay up all night with the students.  However, there should also be shifts of fresh faces and leaders every 2 hours.  Someone is always fresh and coming in with coffee in hand!

4) Everything They’ve Ever Dreamed Of

This is the time and place to dream and try out everything you’ve ever wanted to try but didn’t have enough time to do during a normal youth service!  Every hour to two hours switch activities! Start with a “white elephant” gift exchange, Hunger Games with a cornucopia complete with rooms in the building shutting down like the clock (intercom system needed), worship at the “beginning” of the day at midnight, karaoke, dodgeball, pinterest party making ornaments or another craft, movie time, and a chicken biscuit break all before 7am!

5) Send them Home

What a way to conclude the youth activities for December! Of course services will still go on during Christmas and New Years, but this is a great way to end!  The opportunity for individual talks, lots of laughs, and a breather in between exams and family functions is just the way to end the semester!

Image attribution: Ingram Publishing / Thinkstock


Caroline has served in student ministry for almost 10 years, and is currently the Youth and Young Adult Minister at Destin United Methodist Church in Destin, FL and co-founder of WAVES Girls Event, a conference for girls ages 14-24. Getting a call into youth ministry at age 16 in Nashville, TN led to Caroline getting a degree in Youth and Family Ministry and a certificate through PREPARE/ENRICH for Premarital Counseling at Abilene Christian University in 2009. She got her start in full time student ministry at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, TX. Caroline loves to encourage students in their faith, and see them be lights in their community. Some things Caroline enjoys is time on the beach, reading, sushi, coffee, traveling and time with her friends and family. You can follower her on her blog, called “Big Hare & Big Faith,” www.carolinehare.wordpress.com, or on Instagram and Twitter: @CarolineHare