You’ve spent months planning your festival or event, creating days of entertainment for all ages. When you’re not stressing about port-a-potty placement or the slew of last minute cancellations, you’re imagining all the smiles on the faces of your attendees. Yet there is a shadow at the back of your mind, one that has been growing for days. And as you step into the street you see them, clumped together like a giant wet rag.

Teenagers. The bane of every event planner. Too cool to be seen enjoying your event, yet too young to not show up. How do you engage them? How do you keep them from ruining your event?

We feel your pain, and that’s why we’ve compiled this list of 4 cool ideas to make even the most jaded teenager crack a smile.

Give them something to destroy

If there’s one thing teenagers enjoy, it’s a bit of destruction. So, indulge their violent tendencies by giving them a legal option. And, while you’re at it make a little money by getting one of your sponsors involved. You could have a car dealership sponsor offer up a clunker, and let the kids take turns whacking it with a baseball bat. Or, if you have a heating and air sponsor, an air conditioning unit works just as well.

If you’re feeling more artistic, then throw up a wall of plywood and set out some spray paint and watch as the kids show you just what insanity is in their heads. While you’re at it, raise some money for charity by charging for the honor of picking up a bat or blasting some spray paint.

Wear them out

Listen, teenagers may sleep in ’til 2pm, but once they’re awake they become bottomless wells of energy. So, why not point that energy in the right direction with some physical exercise. Set up a vast obstacle course, form teams, and watch them run, jump, and climb themselves into a delightful stupor.

Or, if you want to maybe educate them a little on the way, create a historical scavenger hunt that sends them from one end of town to the next searching for clues into your town’s violent, seedy, and bizarre past. This is a great way to involve your local historical association or older residents.

Add a little danger

Everyone likes a little ride on the danger train, not least of all teenagers. So, give ’em what they want with a super secret speakeasy they can only access with a password. Even better if they have to dress up to get in. This has the added benefit of getting all the teenagers in the same place at the same time so it can be easy to keep an eye on them.

For an extra bit of veracity, set the whole thing in a creepy abandoned building, or promote it with a mysterious social media campaign and secret map.

Dance the night away

Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There’s a reason people have been hosting dances for teenagers since the 1920s…it works. But if you’re gonna do it, you gotta do it right. So, pick a place that’s unusual so the dance has some added intrigue. Right smack in the streets could work. Or an abandoned building, on a bridge, or a rooftop. Or, make it a fancy affair, or a costume party. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you make it something out of the ordinary.

For extra style points, get a popular band or DJ to play a set.

So, there you go. For more ideas on how to engage attendees of all ages, contact us at Walkabout. We’re just brimming with ideas. Happy planning!