Structure and organization are necessary for fun. Without structure and organization, you’re volunteers are going to hate you. Without structure and organization, the kids will experience too much freedom which leads to fights, injuries and hurt feelings. In the end, they won’t have fun either. You must have this in place!
First of all, every minute of the lock-in must be scheduled. Your volunteers want a plan. They love a plan. The idea of being with all these kids all night scares them. They think in their heads, “what am I going to do with these kids all night?” However, when you give them their schedule which outlines a different activity to attend with their kids every thirty minutes, they can get excited about that. The kids don’t have to know the schedule. It can be an adventure for them, something new and crazy every thirty minutes.
Second of all, don’t do a lock-in without guidelines. Be very clear on your guidelines. I post the guidelines on the registration page for the lock-in. After they register, I include the guidelines in all their paperwork that parents have to sign. I train the volunteers in the guidelines so they know how to keep their kids in line and what to do if kids get out of hand. Last of all, I personally go over the guidelines with all the kids before the lock-in gets started. I make sure that they clearly understand what they can and cannot do and what will happen if they break guidelines. To most people, my consequences are pretty strict. However, we rarely have to enforce them becasue the kids know the guidelines and they stay in line. It’s more fun that way.
I found that it took me the most time to establish policies, guidelines and scheduled for that first lock-in. However, once it was done, preparing for the next lock-in was easy. I just tweak the schedule and adjust my guidelines if our activities warrant it. I was starting from scratch though. Now it’s easy to borrow from someone else and tweak it to make it your own. I’ll post all of my stuff later which you are free to take and use.
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