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Youth Lock-In Activities: Ideas for Overnight Events

Lock-in events are a popular activity especially for a youth ministry. They are a great way for kids to socialize, learn, and be entertained. If you’re over 30, chances are you’ve been to a lock in or been a lock-in volunteer at some point right? These youth lock-ins often take place in community centers, schools, or places of worship and typically involve a variety of activities designed to meet the interests of kids, teenagers and all young people. 

A lock-in typically spans several hours, often overnight to the next day, with activities carefully planned to keep participants engaged and supervised. Most lock-in’s are organized with games and free time, allowing kids the opportunity to choose how they wish spend their time. Such activities might include sports, arts and crafts, workshops, or discussion groups, all within a locked-down and secure venue. Below we will go into all the details to create a good time with a lock in event including lock-in checklist ideas. 

Youth Lock In Activities

Planning and Preparation

Before we get into all the fun activities that happen, let’s talk about getting ready and things to think about when planning one of these fun events. 


Budgeting is critical. Organizers must account for:

  • Venue rental
  • Food and beverages
  • Entertainment
  • Security
  • Insurance (FYI some building insurance plans don’t cover overnight guests)

Venue Selection

The lock-in venue must be suitable for the number of participants with safe rooms or a large meeting room type of space. Considerations include:

  • Capacity
  • Location accessibility
  • Available facilities (bathrooms, kitchen, etc.)
  • Equipment for activities

Safety Measures

Safety is paramount for any lock-in event. Organizers must:

  • Ensure adequate adult supervision is present. At least one adult volunteer is necessary depending on the size of the group. 
  • Conduct risk assessments of the venue and activities
  • Establish clear emergency procedures
  • Provide first aid facilities and trained personnel
  • Implement measures to manage allergies and medical conditions of participants like peanut allergies

Engagement and Participation

Engagement and participation are key for the success of any youth lock-in. You want to make all kids feel welcome and involved. This should include different types of activities from quiet activities to outdoor games. 

Icebreaker Activities

These icebreaker activities can be played indoor or outdoor. 

  • Two Truths and a Lie: Participants share three statements about themselves, two of which are true and one a lie. Fellow attendees vote to identify the falsehood.
  • Human Bingo: Attendees receive a bingo card with various traits or experiences. They must interact with others to find people who match the criteria on their cards, encouraging informal introductions and conversations.
  • Age Appropriate Put a Finger Down Questions for KidsThis is a great game for younger kids to learn more about each other. The game involves players putting a finger down when a statement applies to them. The objective of the game is to be the last player with fingers up. 
put a finger down questions for kids

Team Building Exercises

  • Trust Falls: Pairs are formed where one person must fall backward, trusting the other to catch them, reinforcing trust and teamwork.
  • Problem-Solving Challenges: Groups tackle puzzles or activities that require cooperation, such as untangling a human knot or building a structure with limited materials.

Creative Workshops

  • Improv Theater: Attendees participate in improvisational drama games, which enhance quick thinking and creative collaboration.
  • Art Projects: Guided sessions allow kids to create individual or collective artwork. Depending on the age of the kids will determine the type of art projects you need to create. Make sure to plan in advance so you can be equipped with plenty of art supplies the day of the event.
art activities for kids

Community Service

Since lock-in events normally require entertaining kids for a long time, so why not use that time to help others with community service? You don’t necessarily have to go somewhere to get kids to help with a service project. Bring the supplies in and have the kids stuff boxes or prepare goodie bags for those in need. Another idea is to raise money at a lock-in by having a walk-a-thon in a gym, bike-a-thon around the parking lot, game night marathon, or something similar where you have students get sponsored for each hour! 

Entertainment and Leisure

A youth group lock-in brings excitement and camaraderie through a variety of entertainment options. 

Indoor Lock-In Games

Selection: Featuring a variety of games such as board games, card games, and video games engages different age groups and preferences.

  • Board Games:Chess, Monopoly, and Risk are excellent for strategizing and group collaborations.
  • Card Games: Favorites like Uno and Cards Against Humanity offer quick, fun interactions.
  • Video Games: Ensure a mix of genres from sports simulations like FIFA to party games like Mario Kart for competitive and cooperative play. If you do plan to include video games, make sure they are interactive. After all, the point of this event is to engage kids with their peers for a fun night with lack of sleep and active activities right? And this shouldn’t include kids being glued to the screen.
  • Gaga Ball: This is a fun new game that is gaining lots of popularity and can be played indoor or outdoor. In a nutshell, you cram a bunch of kids in a ball pit (or walled off space) and let a ball loose in the middle of a circle. If the ball touches you below the knee, you are out. Last one standing wins!

Outdoor Lock-In Games

Selection: Outdoor activities might not be an option for every lock in, but if you want to burn some of the kids energy before you officially “lock them in” for the night, organized outdoor games are a great way to do it. 

  • Nerf Gun Games: These nerf games can be played indoor or outdoor!
  • Capture the flag: This fun game requires two or more teams to each have a flag (or other markers) and the objective is to capture the other team’s flag, located at the team’s “base”  and bring it safely back to their own base. This is a great activity if you want to engage them in large group games.
  • Sports Crafts and Ideas for Kids:  These ideas and crafts can be done indoor or outdoors! Another ideas is to have a sports theme where the kids come dressed in their favorite sports team attire!
  • Water Balloon fights: What kid doesn’t love a few water balloon fights, right? This is a great idea on a hot day, but don’t forget to remind kids to bring a change of clothes and a towel. 

Movie Night Essentials

Screening Location: A comfortable viewing area is essential, with options for bean bags, sleeping bags, chairs, and floor cushions.

Audio-Visual Equipment: Check the following for a seamless movie experience:

  • A quality projector or large-screen TV.
  • A robust sound system to enhance the movie’s audio.

Film Selection:

  • Diverse Genres: Offer a mix of action, comedy, drama, and family-friendly choices.
  • Age Appropriateness: Confirm all films are suitable for the audience’s age range.

Talent Show Organizing

For students and kids who love theatre, why not organize and have them put on a show! All it takes is a little time and organization. 

Auditions: Hold a pre-event audition to schedule performances and ensure variety.

Stage Setup: Provide a simple stage area with necessary equipment.

Support: Assign staff or volunteers to assist participants with their needs before and during the show.

Life Skills Workshops or Lessons

Workshops are a core feature, providing chances for kids to gain valuable knowledge on a range of topics. It’s common for a youth pastor to give an age related talk or sermon about current events or life situations that kids might be facing. Night lock-ins are a great opportunity for adults to teach kids or emerging adults about some skills and lessons they might not have the time to teach them otherwise. You can even incorporate a bible study into the event.  This might even include guest speakers!

Did you gain some good ideas for your own lock-in event? I hope so. Feel free to peruse our site for more crafts and activities for a fun lock in event.