Youth group Lock-Ins (or All-Niters as some churches call them) are an incredibly fun (and exhausting) way to connect deeply with the kids in your youth ministry and their unchurched friends. But 12 hours is a long time to fill with interesting activities. So we’ve pulled together our list of the greatest Youth Lock-In Games of all time to help you make your next All-Niter the best time ever!
But before we get started, a warning. Lock-Ins are not for the faint of heart. Staying up all night with dozens of teenagers will test your stamina, your patience, and your sense of humor. This activity requires you to prepare by eating well, getting plenty of rest ahead of time, and prayer for your students, volunteers, and the structural integrity of your church or whatever building you’re holding it in.
Are you ready? Let’s play!
Greatest Youth Lock-In Games
A team of Bible smugglers (students) is trying to sneak Bibles to several churches (designated safe spaces) without the team of KGB agents tagging them out and putting them in jail. But before the game starts, the leaders secretly tell several students that they are in fact KGB informants who can tell the leaders which students have Bibles snd who doesn’t. The game ends when all the Bibles are in churches or when all the smugglers are in jail.
This is “hide-and-seek” in reverse. Instead of one person trying to find everybody else, everybody’s trying to find one person. Played in the dark in a large room or outside on the church lawn or sports field, the Grey Ghost hides until she thinks it’s safe to make a run for “home”. The game is over when the Grey Ghost is tagged or makes it to home base. A fun twist is to give the Grey Ghost the power to tag her pursuers. If tagged, they have to sit down until the game is over.
Kajabe (kuh-JAW-bee) Can Can
Hume Lake Camps’ world famous twist on tug-o-war is quite possibly the most physical game kids can play without pads and helmets. Kids form a ring around large plastic trash cans each holding onto 2-foot lengths of knotted rope. At the whistle, players try to pull one another toward the cans. If anyone touches a can or drops their end of the rope, they are eliminated and the circle gets smaller until there are only 2 players trying to make the other bump the can. Can be played with groups as large as 15-20. Add multiple cans when the group is large and remove cans as they get down to the final few. See it in action below.
Face Your FEARS
Students are released into the dark halls and rooms of the church to find 5 adult volunteers who each represent a letter in the word F-E-A-R-S. The 5 adults are armed with sharpies and standing in the dark around corners and at the end of halls trying to be as creepy and silent as possible. Other adults are armed with flashlights and standing around also. When a student finds an adult, they have to walk up to them and ask, “Are you one of my fears?” If the adult has a sharpie, they then write their assigned letter in sharpie on the student’s hand. If the adult has a flashlight, they flash it in the student’s face and send them to “jail” to wait 2 minutes before they are released again. The game ends when a student has all the letters of the word written on their hand and show it to the leader.
Did we leave one of your favorites out? Share with us what you believe to be the greatest youth Lock-In games and we may add it here.