Lock-ins are events that many Kid’s Ministries don’t even attempt because they can seem difficult or daunting. However, this is the 4th lock-in we have done with Gen Kids, and it turned out to be the most popular that we do. We schedule two lock-ins each year (one the week of spring break and the other on Labor day weekend), and the kids always ask when the next one is coming. We always have a theme, and this time it was “Roller Disco”. Our leaders and kids really got into the theme and everyone had a groovy time. Our budget for this event was $750, but we aimed for covering at least half of our cost by charging $10 per child. We don’t ask our leaders to pay since they are giving their time and energy to serve our kids. We also required all parents to fill out and turn in a Parental Consent Form for each child. All kids and leaders were encouraged to come in 70’s disco attire, and we had a surprising amount of kids and leaders who came all decked out and ready to disco dance the night away!
Instead of going through the entire schedule from start to finish, I have decided to focus more on the activities we had going on for the night. If you are interested in seeing a full schedule for planning your own lock-in you can see reference my Roller Disco Lock-in Schedule.
I didn’t get a lot of good pictures of the room itself when the lights were up, but we decked the room out in Disco decor. I got a disco ball (make sure you also purchase the motor) that we hung on the ceiling, a disco door topper for the entry way, disco ball cutouts, retro 70’s silhouettes, and disco street sign cutouts that we hung on walls around the room, and disco party hanging swirls that we hung on hooks on the ceiling around the room. We also bought 80 neon balloons and filled them with glow sticks. They didn’t last long with the kids kicking and throwing them around, but the kids loved that they got to keep the glow sticks after the balloons popped.
The kids were dropped off between 5:30-6 pm. We decided to keep them out of the Gen Kids room during this time. Our team had already set up the room with activities for the second half of the night when we got back from the roller rink. We set up board games, twister, and some video games in the mallway (our church lobby) for the kids to play with if they showed up early. Pizza and drinks were served promptly at 6:00 because we had the bus scheduled to pick us up to take us to the roller rink at 6:15. For transportation, we chartered a bus to pick us up, take us to the roller rink, and bring us back. It is the easiest and cheapest way to transport 45 kids to and from a roller rink that is 45 minutes away. The bus company charges by the hour (you aren’t responsible for any gas, tolls, or providing a driver), and for 4 hours it only cost us $275.
It is surprising to me how affordable it is to rent out an entire roller skating rink. We had to do some digging around on websites, and visited a few locations before making our choice. We were able to get the whole rink to ourselves for 2 hours for only $300. They opened up the snack bar for the kids (we told the parents it was optional to send cash for concessions), gave them a choice between inline and roller skates, and even ran games for us like limbo (as seen above). We were allowed to bring in our own music to plug into their system, which was awesome considering our 70’s disco theme. I created a two and a half hour Roller Disco Lock-in Playlist to use at the roller rink and during games for the rest of the night. I included lots of 70’s/Disco music, some current clean secular songs that had a disco flare, a few dance songs (cha cha slide, cupid shuffle), and a couple songs we normally do in Gen Kids. It was a fun mix that our leaders and kids enjoyed. Warning: do not try to do the hokey pokey and shake it all about while skating, you will fall on your rear end. It still hurts to bend over.
Free Time Rotations
Surprisingly, none of our kids fell asleep on the bus ride home, including the 5-year-olds, so it’s a good thing we still had a lot more activities planned for the rest of the night! When we returned from the skating rink, we gave the kids options of activities they could participate in (face painting, nail decorating, disco photo booth, and twister in the mallway). We only had 30 minutes scheduled for free time, but ended up allowing it to go about 45 minutes-1 hour since the kids were still enjoying themselves. We bought the 70s glasses, disco necklaces, and photo booth background on Oriental Trading. The photo booth props are downloadable pdf files we got form Etsy, printed them on card stock, cut them out, and hot-glued them to dowel rods. The kids had a lot of fun with them in the photo booth.
We gathered all the kids together for some large group disco-themed games in the Gen Kids room. Only one kid was tired at this point so we still needed to wear them out. We started with Disco Freeze Dance. Basically the kids just danced like maniacs while we played songs from the playlist and ran the disco ball and crazy lights. When the music stopped, they had to freeze in whatever dance move they were in. If they didn’t freeze quickly enough or toppled over, they were out. We played this game for awhile with random songs then decided to do some more organized dance songs. We did YMCA, Cupid Shuffle, and Cha Cha Slide. It made for some hilarious pictures. Once the leaders were totally worn out (note: I said leaders, not the kids), we moved on to the next game, Disco Charades. It is played just like charades only using disco words, phrases, and song titles. I created a Disco Charades List, put them on pieces of paper, then put them in a bucket for the game. This game definitely proved to be difficult for the younger kids, so we didn’t end up playing it for the full 15 minutes. We also had Disco Karaoke planned for an optional activity since our kids love karaoke so much. We just updated our song list with a few new songs (mostly Disney and YMCA) and created a Disco Karaoke List. We had lyric videos for all of the songs on the list in a playlist in ProPresenter.
This is probably my favorite snacktivity (a snack that is also an activity). All you have to do is buy any type of string, yarn, or twine, cut it into necklace lengths, and tie a lifesaver to the end (to keep all the food from falling off the end). You can use any food that has a hole in the middle. We used frosted cheerios, chocolate cheerios, fruit loops, lifesaver gummies, apple and peach ring gummy candies, mini fudge cookies, and gummy bear rings. The kids have so much fun making huge necklaces they can eat. I always like to do this one right before we watch a movie because the kids can eat it while they watch the movie, and it’s a nice wind down/transition activity.
The Home Stretch
I call this the home stretch because at this point in the night we put on a movie, require the kids to be in their beds, turn down the lights, and many of them start to fall asleep during the movie (I slept through most of it). When the movie is over it is officially bed time. For this lock-in the movie didn’t end until around 2:30 am and we didn’t have much of a struggle getting them to sleep because they were exhausted. When 8:00 am rolled around the next morning, we had to practically drag them out of their beds to eat donuts and juice before going home. By the time all the kids were gone (around 9:30), the leaders and I were totally pooped. It was well worth all the energy and sleep loss to see how much fun the kids had, and hear all the positive reports and thank-you’s from parents. If you’ve never done one before, I would encourage you to give a lock-in a try. Lock-ins provide great opportunities for you and your leaders to build stronger relationships with the kids, and the kids have the opportunity to grow in their friendships with other kids in ways they wouldn’t have time for in during normal services.