Teen Summer Programs Wrap-up (2011)

Ah August, how do I love thee. Summer Reading is done and I have a good month before the fall session begins. This also means I can get back to focusing on books, but before I do I thought I would do a Summer Programs in review post. If you want more information on anything, please don’t hesitate to ask. I love to share prep/ideas.

Anime Club (2 sessions = 32 teens)
This is a program I’ve been doing for about 2 years now and it’s finally taking off. I’ve been trying to transform it little by little. I’ve found that the teens have seen most of the Anime I have and even suggested titles have the same curse. The teens enjoy watching their favorite anime, but I felt like it was getting stale. In July I introduced a craft option, which turned out to be a huge hit. We made buttons and pop cap pendants and they all seemed to enjoy it. I have some more changes I’m going to try to implement in the coming months, which I hope will keep my numbers up!

Backpack Bling (4 sessions = 11 teens)
Being a crafter, I hate that crafts don’t work so well with my teens. I still try to do one craft program each summer though. I figure one of these days I’ll hit a good one and get a good crowd. I already talked about this one in length so I won’t bore you again. If you missed it the first time, be sure to check out my Bottle Cap Pendants and Buttons post.

Next Level (2 session = 8 teens)
For whatever reason, I cannot get gaming to take off in my library. I don’t know if it’s because most of the teens are playing at home or what. Over the past two years, my highest number has been 11 teens and it has been slowly dropping. I plan to continue it through this year, but may let it drop if numbers don’t pick up. During the two hours, I offer board games and a choice of about 15 Wii games. The favorite this summer was Wipe Out (based off the show). It accommodates 4 players and the teens die of laughter anytime they play. I’m hoping to shake it up with some board games and maybe an RP campaign for the fall.

Pirates vs. Ninjas (1 session = 16 teens)
This was my fun way of saying Capture the Flag. I divided the teens into two teams, Ninjas and Pirates, for a massive outdoor game that include water soakers. Overall, this one was a huge success, but I would change a few things if I do it again. First, I would remember bug spray! I was so excited to do an event outside, I forgot how bad mosquitoes could be. In the thirty minutes it took to get bug spray I had to have been bitten about twenty times. The teens suffered about the same. Second, I would drop the water soakers–or get better guns. I bought some cheap dollar store ones that just didn’t work. Also, I was surprised by how many teens complained about getting wet, especially since it was a warm day and they dried fast. Third, I would shorten it. Two hours is just too long to play Capture the Flag with the same people. I find that my teens camp a lot and basically just stand there and don’t move, which gets boring very fast. However, with all that, the teens loved it and it will be one I consider doing again.

Pizza Tasting (1 session = 26 teens)
This was our 2nd annual pizza tasting event. This event is always a big hit, but it’s also one I put a lot of time into. All pizzas used for the tasting are donated. Seriously, I never realized how hard it is to talk to managers until I started this. A fellow co-worker and myself had to spend at least 4 hours or so calling local establishments to see if they’d be willing to donate. I wrote up a quick script explaining what we were doing and if they’d be willing to donate two large pizzas for the cause. In the end, we got Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, Cemeno’s, and Aurelios to donate. I had hoped to get the winner from last year, Dominos, to defend their crown but their contact person would not return our calls. When the teens arrive they are given a scorecard to rate the pizzas for best crust, cheese, sauce, and overall. I also have a little fun and try to see if the teens can guess where the pizzas came from. (For those curious, Pizza Hut won overall.) The only true complaint I get is that the pizza ends up cold. Since the teens cannot know where the pizzas are from, I have to pick-up the pizzas almost 45 minutes before they arrive. And this barely gives me enough time to get them cut and set up before start time. I’m still brainstorming for a solution, but have yet to find one. However, as long as I get the proper donations, this will continue to be a reoccurring event.

Swordplay (1 session = 15 teens/11 adults)
With the theme being medieval, I had to do something with swords. I’m lucky enough that we have a guild in Chicago that was willing to come down for a demonstration. They sent down two team members who talked about proper swordplay, rules, and did several fencing/fighting demos. I loved this one because it mixed fun with history. I think a lot of the teens thought it would be the flashy stuff of movies, but instead learned how most fights were over in a couple of swings. I was a little worried it would be too much history/talking but the majority of teens stayed 10-15 minutes after the demo was over to see the equipment up front and ask more questions. There were some who stayed even longer than that–keeping the presenters a good 15 minutes later than scheduled. If given the chance, I would jump on doing another demo in the future.

Murder Mystery (1 session = 51 teens/adults)
Ah, this is my pride and joy for the summer. I did open casting calls in early May and ended up with 7 teens. The teens had a hand in almost the whole process. We sat together as a group and came up with a basic whodunit story, which one of my co-workers wrote for us. The nice thing about an original script was that we were able to change lines/add in characters as needed. We ended up with a 25-paged script set in medieval France during a royal banquet. The squire was the poor victim, but it was the king who was the true target! As always, it was the least suspected character; the Herald used a magic stone to control the Queen to do his bidding and if not for the Italian Ambassador and his wife, he would have gotten away with it. The teens had so much fun with the script and it was very well received by the audience. I will admit I was frightened they would not memorize lines/pull it together in time, especially since several teens were out for vacation during the summer. However, they impressed me enough to continue the drama activities in the fall. I doubt we’ll do another Murder Mystery though nor will we perform in the Fall. I want to give us more time to practice so it doesn’t feel so rushed/give me a break down. Also, next time I do a Murder Mystery I want to involve the crowd/audience more so that they can be a participant rather than just an observer.

WHEW. And there you have it! We had such a great summer this year. I’m hoping our fall end up just as wonderful! I also promise I’ll be adding in more book reviews/discussions come Monday.

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