AppWorld Lock-In

AppWorld Lock-In

Our Youth Group App Icon

What is a Lock-In and WHY do it?
Every May, after our newly confirmed 8th Graders have completed their Confirmation Classes and Sacrament Mass, our HSYG puts on a Lock-In (all night event) to welcome the newly confirmed into our High School Youth Group officially.  Although they do not start HS until the Fall, Lock-In serves as their official invitation to begin attending HSYG.  (This way we don’t ‘lose them’ between Confirmation and the start of their 9th grade school year. 
I try every year to find a FUN and CURRENT theme for our Lock-In.  Let’s face it, if it’s not something the kids are interested in, they aren’t going to come!  If you can manage to find a fun theme and keep them guessing as to ‘HOW WILL THEY DO THAT?’, you can hook them!!! (:
Our ‘larger than life size’ iphone with a few of our Lock-In Apps on it.
We wrapped two pizza boxes in black banner paper and had printed out a large iphone picture with our lock-in apps on it (thanks to a volunteer who works at a college with a extra large print capable printer/copy machine)  I covered the entire thing in clear plastic packaging tape and we used this as a prop for our Siri Skit.
Jenn’s Lock-In Format
This is my template, what works for me and my group, what we’ve done here at St. EAS for the last 10 years, and we can do based on our property/buildings etc.
Time- 9pm-7am  (fri night-sat morn)
Place- Our church has a very large community center with a huge commercial size kitchen, stage, sound system, etc.  We also have a two story school building (for ccd classes) and we use the entire second floor (9 rooms) as well.
WHERE is lock-in exactly?-  We have the kids arrive to the community center.  We are there from 9pm until about 12midnight or 1am.  At that time, we move everyone over (we must walk outside to move so we do this as a large group) to the school building and we are there, upstairs the remainder of the night.  Once upstairs, we start off in our own youth room (we are blessed here at St. EAS to have our very own room with couches, pool table, etc.) and then the kids are broken up into groups and they rotate through the remaining 8 rooms for the rest of the night until 4 or 5am.  Once they finish rotating through the rooms, they finish with a movie in either the youth room or a designated movie room until breakfast and departure time!
THIS BEING SAID…My activities are based on the ability to use our property in this way.  You might have to adjust some things or get creative based on the property use you have at your church.  My HSYG and I spend about 2 months coming up with the ideas, planning, preparing, etc.  We spend 2 weeks decorating and getting the rooms ready.  It’s important to pick a theme which will give you enough ideas/activities to fill up an entire night.  I have to say, AppWorld gave us TONS of ideas.  We were literally throwing ideas out because we all had so many different ones we wanted to use.  We narrowed it down to what we thought was most popular and what we thought would be the most fun for the kids attending to participate in.
What do we hope to accomplish?-  I try very hard to drive home that youth group is friends, faith, & fun.  Most of the activities are just plain ‘to have a good time’ but a good third of them promote discussion as well.  At the end of lock-in, they should (I HOPE) feel like they want to continue coming to Youth Group and realize that a mix of Friends, Faith, & Fun is something they want to be part of.
If you currently work in youth ministry, then you are already familiar with the challenges in getting kids to commit to and attend anything!  A meeting, an event, a lock-in, etc.  SO…I spend a lot of time putting together a FUN looking flyer.  Visiting the ccd classes (before they are over) with some of my high school youth group lock-in team, I run the flyer in the church bulletin for several weeks before the lock-in, we hand flyers out after Confirmation Mass, emails, etc.  I try very hard to get as many high school youth group lock-in team members as possible to promote it.  If you’re in 8th grade (or already in high school as it’s open to anyone who isn’t already on the lock-in team as well) you’d much rather hear how exciting and fun lock-in is from a high school team member and peer than the adult youth minister!  I instruct my team to give them examples of what we will be doing, don’t just say, ‘come to lock-in’.  You have to actually give them examples and also tease them with a few things so that they are curious about it.  (ie.  Siri WILL be at lock-in….THE REAL Siri, live in person!) 
Some of my tag lines were:
AppWorld Lock-In – Where your FAVORITE APPs come to LIFE!!!
 Join the coolest teen network at St. EAS!!!
(I also tell them a few of the Apps that will be brought to life)
AppWorld Lock-In Activities
Community Center Apps- 
Our Community Center was literally THE APP STORE so we had banners and signs and we did lots of different things there from 9pm-1am  In this room, there is time for kids to mingle, a live dj (one of my former yg kids who is now a young adult volunteer), dancing, food, activity rotations (we split the kids into groups for this), and skits.  We also surprised them with a flash mob during their ‘dance/dj’ time. 
  •  Twitter Banner- A large tree out of banner paper with blue birds for the kids to write on.  They could ‘tweet’ whatever they wanted and the banner would be hung in our youth room after lock-in.
  • Google Earth- A large map of the world mounted on foam core where the kids could put a push pin into all the places they have been in the world. 
  • Unblock Me Puzzle-  This popular app reminded me of the child plastic puzzle things where you have to get the mixed up picture in the correct places.  We used shoe boxes wrapped in banner paper to create this.  It was a challenge to complete and they loved it.
  • Live Dj- During mingle time and between skits and activities and food time
  • I <3 Radio- “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” game show basically.  I had previously picked out songs and which part of the song would be ‘cut off’ with my dj.  (assuring songs that the kids knew would be played, songs were appropriate, etc.)  I also printed out lyrics and highlighted the parts where the song would cut off so that the two high school girls who hosted the ‘show’ would have the correct lyrics in hand.  I gave prizes to the top 3 place finishers. 
  • Memory-  I printed out app icons on regular size pages on cardstock.  Like the old school ‘memory game’, they were turned over and you had to find a ‘match’ turning over only 1 at a time and ‘remember’ where the match was. 
  • Scramble with Friends-  Word scramble game played with their feet.  This basic idea I have used many times in regular youth group meetings and it’s always fun.  I found it in a book of youth group games a LONG time ago.  Split the group into two teams (I had 8-10 kids in each group) You take tape (I use large painters tape as it’s easy to remove and doesn’t leave sticky residue on the shoes soles) and put 1 letter on the bottom of each person’s feet.  (You must pick words and letters ahead of time).  They all sit side by side with legs straight out.  Each team has 4-5 people on it.  You ask them to spell a word (they must cross feet over eachother to spell correctly) and whichever team gets the word spelled correctly first gets a point.  At the end, the team with the most points wins.  We gave a prize to each kid in the winning time. 
  • Flash Mob- I am a choreographer and former professional dancer so I choreographed and taught the lock-in team a flash mob to ‘surprise’ the kids with.  During their free/mingle time, we play music.  We always throw in stuff like cha cha slide, cupid shuffle, cotton eyed joe, gangnam style, etc.  But they NEVER expected a flash mob!  It was a wonderful surprise and we just figured it would act as the ‘youtube’ app. 
  • Temple Run-  We created a scavenger hunt which took place one team at a time during the activity rotation.  It was Indiana Jones type themed and we had written poems and clues and hidden things all over the church property.  Each team had 2 lock-in team leaders go with them with flashlights as the clues / places they had to find were spread out all over the church grounds at night.  (ie. our pond, butterfly garden, inside the school building, in the prayer garden, in the stained glass windows, at Mary’s grotto, etc.)
  • Urban Spoon- What we called the food area / buffet tables which were stocked with munchie and appetizer food throughout the community center portion of the lock-in.
  • Siri Skit- Nope, I didn’t lie when I was promoting lock-in.  I told them Siri would be there in person, and she was!  But, Siri is sick of these kids asking her if she’s in love.  To tell them a story.  How to bury a dead body.  What to eat for dinner.  If she’s married, etc.  SO…She needs a vacation before she has a nervous breakdown.  So, she calls her friend Shaquandra, or shaneequa, or shaqueesha (we called her something different every time) to fill in for her for a week.  I have a young adult volunteer who is hilarious and is wonderful at the youth group appropriate/humorous ‘cross dress for a skit’ role.  He has been Oprah, Whitney, Beyonce, etc.  So…he starts taking questions and answers them in the humorous ghetto gal type of way.  Different lock-in team members all had a question to ask her.  They pressed the Siri icon on our ‘iphone prop’ and acted it out.  Q- Siri, who has the best pizza?  A-Ooh…girl…now pasquale’s has the best pizza, but at $18 a pie, I ain’t havin’ none ‘a that!  Now where you gotta go is Little Ceasars, $5. a pie, now that’s a deal! Q- Siri, it’s hurricane season, are we going to get hit this year?  I’m scared!  A- Girl, I hope not, I just got my hair did!  Q- Siri, it’s Sunday night, I’m bored.  Are there any good parties happening tonight?  There’s nothing to do in this town.  What should I do?  A- Oh yes, the best party in town.  It happens every Sunday and it’s at Youth Group!!!  Etc.  (There were lots of questions but the youth group one was our final one.  
Room Rotations Upstairs in the School Building-
Once we move everyone upstairs, I had everyone in the youth room and we began the upstairs portion of lock-in.  The rooms are all elaborately decorated in their theme (so they don’t look like classrooms).  We move desks and furniture out and make them literally turn into the app they are. 
  • Youtube Videos/large group– I started out by showing a few App Themed youtube videos which are hilarious.  When you get a chance, look up “If Instant Messaging Was Real” “Can I Be Your Friend” “I’m Elmo and I know it” and “Baby Got Book”
  • Also in Youtube room/large group- A talk/witness by one of my Seniors- She talked about what High School Youth Group has meant to her in her 4 years with us.
Then We Broke Everyone Up into Smaller Groups and Began our App Room Rotations 
  • Send/Receive- Discussion Room about how with text messaging, our relationships and communication skills have changed.  All the kids have cell phones, but most don’t actually ‘talk’ on them.  They text.  Kids message eachother all night long as opposed to when we were their age and we talked on the phone all night.  Kids sit in a group at the mall over food perhaps and text, no one looking at eachother.  Etc.
  • Instagram- Activity/Discussion Room about changing your perspective.  I borrowed this idea from the movie Soul Surfer.  I took pictures in extreme close ups and then a large ‘big picture’ of the entire object.  Kids had to ‘guess’ what something was in the extreme close up, then they got to see the entire object.  (ie. Most of the kids guessed a boat buoy tied with rope as the close up, but when they saw the whole picture they saw it was an extreme close up of the rosary on our Mary in front of the church.)
  • Create Your Own App- Craft/Discussion RoomIf you could create your own app, what would it be?  (They made their own apps icons and wore them around their neck the rest of the night.  Other kids could ‘like’ their app with a smiley sticker which was stuck to the back of the app icon necklace they made.  The person with the most ‘like stickers’ at the end of the night got a prize.
  • Urban Spoon-  Late night pizza / snack room
  • Draw Something- Activity Room-  Basically Pictionary with a white board
  • Words with Friends- Discussion Room about friendship/relationships.  They started out with a large crossword puzzle which we projected on the board with an overhead projector.  We covered the wall with banner paper so they could guess one of the words in the puzzle.  Each team got to guess one word so that the puzzle was completed by the end of the night.  Then, the HS team members in that room started a discussion about friendships and relationships and how to talk/deal with them and how important they are, etc.  They segued that into ‘Is God A Friend’ and how do you talk to him?
  • Settings Room- Discussion / Activity room about what makes you unique.  Each kid got his own setting gear wheel (like the picture) which was made out of paper plates and aluminum foil and write the characteristics that make them unique on them.  They discussed and shared as a group, then got to wear their setting gear wheel home (they were on yard like a necklace)
  • Shazam-  Activity Room- Basically, Name that Tune game show.  A small second or two of a song is played and they have to ring the buzzer to guess it.  They competed against the other members in their small group and the winner got a prize.
  • Angry Birds- Activity Room where they threw angry birds (small stuffed animal angry birds) at targets (cup pyramids, etc.) 
  • Fandango-  Our movie room.  Once all the room rotations are over, we gather everyone into the movie room and they get cozy on couches etc.  I usually try to pick a movie that goes along with the theme of lock-in, but we couldn’t find an App Themed type of movie so we showed “Bruce Almighty” which is always hilarious.  At 4:30am, I try to always pick a movie that is upbeat.  The kids are exhausted at that point, but we don’t want them to sleep, so humor and action is always a good thing. 
We finish with breakfast in the Urban Spoon Room before the kids leave to go home at 7am.
How it went:
All the kids had a wonderful time.  With this theme, it was relatively easy to get them all involved because they were already familiar with what all these apps were.  We did, as we always do, throw in some wonderful surprises (like the Siri Skit, Flash Mob, Scavenger Hunt, etc.).  It’s music to a Youth Minister’s ears when you hear kids saying ‘this is fun’ during the night!!!  It was extremely successful and left me scratching my head thinking, ‘How on earth will I top this next year?’ 
Other Info-
I had to be as brief as possible in my explaination here as to not have my blog be a mile long, however, there is obviously much more detail in each of our apps and activities.  I am also attempting to upload pictures for you, but am not sure how well they will come out as I seem to always have issues uploading pictures in a suitable size/organized position on this blog page layout. 
Should you have any quesitons, please feel free to contact me.
There are LITERALLY endless possibilities for AppWorld ideas.
If you decide to try this with your group, please contact me after to let me know how it goes!!!
God Bless!!!
Siri explaining to Shaquandra how to answer questions during the Siri Skit


Jack asking Shaquandra a question


Instagram Banner above the Instagram Room
(We put a large banner over every room upstairs)


Finding a clue behind our Pond in during the Temple Run Scavenger Hunt
(that’s a battery opperated fire lantern/lamp…looks like real fire in the picture, but it’s not)


Reading the next clue


Scramble with Friends  (Trying to make a word)




Stick a pin into all the places you’ve been


Our AppStore Banner hanging on the back wall of the stage in the Community Center
The extreme close up for the instagram room which most kids guessed was a boat buoy


The whole picture of Mary in her Grotto.  The ‘boat buoy’ was actually a rosary bead.
Unblock Me Puzzle


Words with Friends Room
One of the tweets from lock-in which is glued to the banner.  Each kid had a bird to tweet what they wanted.


Completed Twitter Banner which now hangs in the Youth Room

Jenn D'Angelo-Lucovic

Jenn is a youth minister from South Florida who has been involved in youth ministry for 20+ years. She believes strongly that helping teens find God in their everyday world is not only necessary, but a much more effective way to connect with them. This means finding God in their day to day activities, their tv choices (yes, including reality tv), music choices, movies, technology, at school, in their social life, etc. With a professional background working in the Entertainment Biz as a Director, Choreographer, & Dancer, she embraces pop culture and uses it in her ministry in some unexpected and fun ways. She is excited to share the creative meetings and events she creates for the teens in her parish.

Jenn D'Angelo-Lucovic

Jenn is a youth minister from South Florida who has been involved in youth ministry for 20+ years. She believes strongly that helping teens find God in their everyday world is not only necessary, but a much more effective way to connect with them. This means finding God in their day to day activities, their tv choices (yes, including reality tv), music choices, movies, technology, at school, in their social life, etc. With a professional background working in the Entertainment Biz as a Director, Choreographer, & Dancer, she embraces pop culture and uses it in her ministry in some unexpected and fun ways. She is excited to share the creative meetings and events she creates for the teens in her parish.

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