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"How to Train Your Attitude" Lock-In 2017

This year we wanted to do something different instead of our usual Valentine Banquet Fund Raiser.  This event killed three birds with one stone:

  1. It was a fund raiser. We charged $10 for those staying 6pm-11-pm and $20 for overnighters 
  2. It was a chance for us to hang out with the kids (one of our favorite things to do!)
  3. It was a Spring Break event for kids.  

Once we agreed on having the event for K-6th we decided to make it a lock-in for 3-6th grade. This is the age-group that is eligible to attend preteen camp this summer so this was an opportunity to find out if  sleeping away from home was something the kids can handle.  They did great! There are always those that aren't sure if they can stay away all night so this was a perfect "safe" way to test the waters.

Choosing the Theme:
I had just recently downloaded some lessons from CMD and "How to Train Your Attitude" was one of the units. We decided to use that as our base and watch the "How to Train Your Dragon" movies.  You can check out a free lesson here.

The kids absolutely loved it. I was a little worried that since it was an older movie they might find it boring, but it turned out that several had not seen the movies and they really enjoyed them.

The Menu:
Dinner: Nacho bar, brownies for dessert
Snack: Popcorn bar and a dragon cake (The picture accidently got deleted but I combined two tutorials found here and here.)
Late night snack: prepackaged snacks like peanut butter and crackers, bread stick and cheese dippers, pretzels and water
Breakfast: Cereal, milk, juice, fruit and breakfast bars
We had tea, lemonade and water to drink.

The Schedule
6:00 Registration / Free time
6:45 Dinner & Clean up
7:15 Welcome, Divide into teams and decorate shields
7:30 Worship
7:40 Lesson Time 1
8:00 Dragon Games in Gym
8:30 Free Time
9:00 Popcorn Bar
9:15 Movie Begins
10:53 Free Time / Pick up K-2nd
11:30 Lesson Time 2
12:00 Team Challenge
12:30 Get ready for bed, snacks
1:00 Movie Begins
2:49 Bedtime
7:15 Get up/pack/breakfast/clean up
8:15 Lesson Wrap Up
9:00 Go home!!!

I think having a basic schedule first makes choosing the activities easier. All you have to do is plug them in.

The Activities:
  • Free time consisted of gaga ball, basketballs, jump ropes, hula hoops and other small games in the gym
  • We also had various crafts in a classroom. We learned last year that many kids, particularly girls, didn't enjoy the crazy gym so this year we added a craft room. We set out all those bits and pieces we've collected over the years and set an adult to supervise. It was a hit!

  • The team shields. We divided into teams for the games and each team got a shield and they were to choose a team name and decorate the shield.  Kids are very creative!

  • The Team Challenge: I used a book my son had called "Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction" and we copied the instructions and gave each team the materials to build a catapult. We had a contest to see whose could toss a cotton ball "sheep" the farthest.  They absolutely loved this challenge. 

  • Dragon games. This is where we got creative and had a little fun. I have to give all the credit to the Lord because even though I pinned a TON of stuff (click here to see my pinterest board) nothing quite fit our situation. So I walked around Dollar Tree praying until God gave me two games. 
    • Game 1: Feed Your Dragon.  I printed out a dragon in each of our 4 team colors and mounted them on foam core. I cut out a hole for the mouth. I purchased these finger rockets and Dollar Tree and they had to shoot them into the dragon's mouth. Amazingly one team got 5 in!

    • Game 2: Dragon Races.  We used stick horses for our "dragons" and these grabbers from Dollar Tree. The helpers scattered cotton balls all around the floor and the kids had to ride the "dragon", pick up a sheep, and put it in their basket and return to hand off to the next kid. It was hilarious and a lot of fun.

The Decorations:
We kept things simple. We have a shared space but one little corner is our own. It usually looks like this:

We covered our space with sky paper and water plastic on the bottom and had to disguise the tree as a cloud. I made a dragon out of black paper.

One leader had old red and white curtains that became our sail and we have a boat cutout that we regularly re-purpose and this time it became a viking ship. I cut out round shields with the leftovers from the team shields and made oars out of wrapping paper tubes, hot glue and cardboard with a little sharpie detailing.

PVC set in a concrete base became our mast.

The only cost for this decor was for the poster-board and foam-core that we used for the shields. We had everything else on hand.

The Costumes:
Our male leader dressed as a viking and I dressed as a dragon.
I don't have a picture of me in my costume but here is my grandson modeling it for me.
Easy Dragon Costume

The Advertising and Registration:
We used google forms for our online registration.  I love google forms! It makes registration so easy. Parents can do it right from their smart phones or tablets.  We had all but 4 kids register this way.  I highly recommend it.  We advertised frequently on Facebook, the best means for parents in our area. I also texted every parent I have an number for, yes I sat and texted one by one for an hour and called a few others.  Sometimes you just gotta put in the work. I also wanted to be sure no child was unable to attend because of funds. Yes, it was a fund raiser but the kids are more important to us and we would find a sponsor.

The Budget:
All the food and supplies were donated.  We estimate that it cost about $200-250.  We don't have a Sam's or Costco account so we shopped at Aldi, Walmart and Dollar Tree.

The Set Up:
It's all in the set up. If you are well prepared in advance everything will go smoothly and you will have a stress free event. Yes, we forgot a few things and some things are unpredictable. It happens. But knowing where everything is and what everyone's assignment is is worth all the hard work up front.  You will be so happy you worked hard before the event when you are going home 30 minutes after the last child has been picked up. (Yes, we were out by 9:30am!)

Here are some things that work for us:
  • We spent most of our time planning.  Planning is key.  We decided who would do what, and when. 
  • Shop early. We purchased all the non-perishable food and products at least 2 weeks before the event.  We only had to buy perishables the day of the event.
  • We purposefully chose disposable plates, utensils, crock-pot liners, napkins, plastic table cloths and foil pans to make clean up a snap.
  • We incorporated teen helpers to monitor kids during free time, with an adult of course so that we could set up the next thing or clean up. 
  • We had the kids who attended do some cleaning. Yes they can do it! 
  • We set everything up that could possibly be set up the day before. Like the toys and balls in the gym.  The registration table up front. A money box with change. We printed out the menu, the schedule with leaders' phone numbers and upcoming events on the back for parents to take home.
  • Rooms ready and signs up for where to put bedding.
  • Crafts ready for the craft table.
  • Cans and can openers, utensils, plastic gloves, crock-pots, pans etc. lined up and ready to go on the counter.
  • Anything you can think of to make things go smoothly, DO IT!
  • Post a large schedule on the wall in each area so leaders and kids know what's next. This was crucial. I had less kids saying, "What are we doing next?" once they learned to read the schedule.
  • Clean as you go. You'll thank me in the morning!

The Follow Up:
This is the hard part for me. But I have a simple system that makes it easy.  I print postcards on card stock and cut into fourths and send each child that attended a card. This is where google forms makes it easy. You have the names and addresses in a spread sheet and they can be made into address labels, printed out and put on the cards.  Done!

The cards say at the bottom "Bring this card with you to any service and receive a prize"
Follow Up Post Cards
I made a simple prize bucket for the check-in table so that if a child brings a card the adult can let him or her choose a prize. 
Follow Up Prizes

We sent every volunteer a thank you card and we pitched in and got the 4 teens who stayed overnight a small gift card from Walmart. They really saved our lives!

We had several new children attend that we'd never met before and several of our regulars were really convicted during the lessons.  We never want to waste a chance to disciple or present the gospel. This event was the best of both worlds, we drew closer to Christ and we had a blast!

There are very few things that we would change about this event.  We forgot a few things like the photo op, and the preteen camp preview DVD.  I would definitely do it again.


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