Lock-ins are events that many Kid’s Ministries don’t even attempt because they can seem difficult or daunting. However, this is the 5th lock-in we have done with Gen Kids, and they seem to be one of our most highly anticipated events 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 “Blacklight". Our leaders and kids really got into the theme, and an awesome time. Our budget for this event was $400, but we aimed for covering the majority 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. All kids and leaders were encouraged to come in neon or white outfits, and we had a surprising amount of kids and leaders who came in some seriously neon ensembles. I will not go into detail on where I purchased all of the items for this event, since I covered the majority of the essentials in my last post: "Blacklight Basics". 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 reference my Blacklight Lockin PC Schedule. I was extremely detailed this time with my schedule. Enjoy.
We always serve the kids dinner, a fun snack, popcorn (during the movie at the end of the night), and breakfast in the morning before we send them home to sleep all day. I decided that I wanted to save more of my budget for the games/activities so I went more "homemade" than usual. For dinner, we served the kids frito chili pies. This was an easy and more affordable alternative to the usual pizza option. I bought two big cans of hormel chili, six of the value size bags of fritos, and a huge bag of cheddar cheese at Sam's Club for under $50. This cut our food budget in half. I wanted our snack to fit the theme, but I have been there done that with trying to make food glow in blacklight. The short answer is there just isn't any food that glows well enough that the kids will eat. I decided to go with a neon theme since everything was neon for the event. I was planning on buying the neon food coloring pack and making my own cupcakes and frosting. However, when I got to the baking aisle at Walmart I discovered a beautiful thing. Pillsbury has a whole line of neon cake mixes and frostings, and they are super affordable. This was a huge time and budget saver. We did a decorate your own cupcake bar. The kids got to choose their color of cupcake, frosting, and sprinkles. We allowed the kids to frost and sprinkle their own cupcakes with some supervision. The kids loved the cupcakes and were asking for seconds, but believe me, they did not need any more sugar. For breakfast, I picked up a variety of mini muffins, donut holes, and mini cinnamon rolls from Sam's Club for them to choose from, and Sunny D was the drink of choice. We usually purchase donuts by the dozen from a local donut shop, but going this route was cheaper.
We had our main Worship Center completely lit with blacklight, but we kept our main Kid's Church room lit as usual. Before taking the kids into the blacklight room for games and activity stations we allowed them time to go to our pre-blacklight stations to "get ready". We had three stations with leaders at each station to help the kids: glow nails, glow face/body paint, and glow sticks/neon hats. Walmart sells a great variety of $2 neon nail polishes that glow really well under blacklight. It is very difficult to find highly rated blacklight reactive body paint. This is the paint I bought, and I would highly recommend it. You can get glow sticks pretty much anywhere, but they are cheapest bought in bulk online. I bought this pack of 300, and the kids had a blast. I have no idea why, but the kids love these neon hats, and they seriously glow under blacklight. The pre-blacklight stations are a lot of fun, and they are a great way to help your kids who forgot to come dressed in neon still have a great time under the blacklight.
Large Group Blacklight Games:
We started our game time by breaking the kids into two teams. We decided to go with boys against girls because it was easier to tell which team was which in the blacklight. The team with the most points at the end of all of our large group games got to go first in line at the cupcake bar. This seemed to be plenty of incentive for our kids. Two of our more outgoing leaders led all of the games, while the rest of our leaders refereed.
Glow dodgeball is played exactly like regular dodgeball, but with glow in the dark balls. These are the glow in the dark dodge balls we used. They are a little costly, but they glow well and we have used them for many events. If you can't afford to work those into your budget, consider putting some glow in the dark duct tape on regular dodge balls. We played several rounds since the kids love this game so much.
2. Neon Four Corners
If you have never played four corners, you are missing out. Our kids and leaders never get tired of this classic game, and it is way more fun in blacklight. We marked our four corners each with a different colored large X using neon tape, and spotlight in the same color. When the music plays the kids dance around the room, and when it stops they must run to a corner. A leader who is not looking will yell out a corner color or number, and all kids in that corner are out. Keep playing until your last child or team is left. To make the game end a little faster, you can close corners. Play as many rounds as you want of this game.
Did you know that toilet paper glows under blacklight? Well, check your brand because some do! Anyways, glowing toilet paper makes for the coolest game ever. We put buckets of toilet paper in the middle of the room, and the whole goal of the game was to get more toilet paper on the other side of the room. It was a glorious mess, and it was probably my favorite part of the night. We also used a toilet paper bazooka from the stage to make an even bigger t-paper mess. Don't forget the most important part of this game! Give the team that cleans up the most toilet paper extra points after the game is over. The room went from a hot mess to sparkling clean in minutes.
The point of this game was reasonably simple, although I'm pretty sure most of the younger kids got so enamored with the glowing balloons that they weren't playing the game at all. We put about 50 neon balloons on each side of the room. The kids had 5 minutes to get all the balloons on their side of the room. You can also play this game the opposite way by having the teams try to get all of the balloons on the other side of the room. Either way you play this game, it's a lot of fun.
5. Glow Dance Party
We left all of the neon balloons out for the dance party. A few of our leaders got on the stage and led the kids in the Cha Cha Slide, the Cupid Shuffle (make sure you use the radio edited version), and Watch Me Whip. When the dance party was over we gave points to the team who could pop the most balloons and clean up the most trash before moving on to our blacklight activity stations.
While the kids were enjoying their glow dance party, the other leaders set up the blacklight activity stations around the room. We gave the kids an hour to visit all of the activity stations that appealed to them. The two stations that ended up being the most popular were the glow art and neon twister stations. There was at least one leader assigned to each station to help the kids and keep the station neat.
1. Neon Four Square
We made a four square board on the ground using neon tape. We didn't have a glow in the dark ball for this station so we used some glow in the dark duct tape to make the ball glow.
2. Glow Basketball
This station was pretty popular with the kids. We simply took our normal basketball hoop and made the back board and rim glow using neon tape. We had a glow in the dark basketball that made this game really awesome.
You can do this station on the wall as well, but it is much easier to contain and clean up when you do it on tables. We covered two 8 foot tables with black kraft paper, had neon paper/cardstock, and uv reactive paint for the kids to paint directly on the table or on the neon paper. This station was constantly busy with kids creating glow art.
4. Glow Bowling
Glow bowling can be created two different ways: bottles of tonic water (which glow because of the tonic water) or bottles of normal water with glow sticks inside. I already had a ton of glow sticks, so I went with the latter option. I have used the tonic water before and it glows better. We made a bowling lane using neon tape, and used a glow in the dark dodge ball as the bowling ball.
These were two separate stations, but we did essentially the same thing to make them glow. We already owned a ping-pong table and foosball table, and I realized that it would be so simple to make them glow. For ping-pong, I covered the handles of the paddles with neon tape and put a neon X in the middle of the paddle so they would know where to hit the ball. I bought neon ping-pong balls, and put a line of neon tape all the way around the table and on the net. For fooseball, I covered the handles and tops of the "players" in neon tape, and put tape all the way around the top of the table. These stations were more popular than I anticipated. I could barely drag some of the boys away from the foosball table.
6. Glow Hopscotch
Hopscotch may not be very cool, but glow hopscotch is awesome. We made a hopscotch board on the ground using neon tape. It took one of my leaders over an hour to make, but it was worth it.
I found instructions to make neon twister in this post on Pinterest. The lady even gives you a template for the spinner to print out and put on the backside of a regular twister spinner board. I used the backside of my regular twister mat and spinner board, so it's now reversible. This game was just as popular with the kids as I had anticipated.
I came up with a really cool and affordable way to make an awesome neon photo booth backdrop. Originally, my plan was to buy some cheap black fabric and some neon acrylic paint, and paint splatter the fabric. However, I found a bunch of black plastic tarp material at the church and decided to use that instead. NEVER AGAIN. I ended up doing it twice because the first time all the paint flew away as it was drying. I thought it was because it was in the direct sunlight. I was wrong. The second time, I did it inside, only to realize that the paint peeling off after it dried. I was able to carefully mount the tarp on some pipe and drape and was able to rescue most of the paint, but save yourself the trouble and buy some fabric for this project. I found these adorable neon photo booth props for only $5. I printed them out on some card stock, cut them out, and hot glued them to dowel rods. I also dug through our prop tubs backstage for anything neon-colored to use for the photo booth.
Blacklight events can be a lot of work, but they are some of the most memorable events you will put together. What are some of your favorite games/activities to do in blacklight?