When the pandemic forced the closure of in-person events last summer, the programming team at the Library had to quickly pivot. They had a summer’s worth of camps planned for teens and kids, and suddenly, they couldn’t hold them as planned.
“We were really committed to not canceling those camps,” Programming Manager Kevin Delecki said.
So they adapted, and in a manner of weeks recorded all of the lessons for four teen camps and four family camps to upload online. With Librarian Molly Garrett leading the effort, they also burned the lessons to DVDs for those campers without reliable home internet access and assembled kits with everything campers would need to follow along at home.
For this summer’s programs, they’ve taken the same model and improved it, applying lessons learned last year and from a year’s worth of virtual programming. This summer, the Library will offer two virtual teen camps and two family camps: an arts camp and a robotics camp, which are meant for kids of all ages to participate in with their parents or caregivers.
“The camps this year are going to be way more in-depth. We’re investing quite a bit into resources for these kits this summer,” Delecki said. “There are going to be really broad based experiences in both of those family camps – participants will be learning things, but they’re also very much experiential; they’re designed to get people out of their typical lived experiences.”
The philosophy behind the camps encompasses what summer programming such as this is all about, he said – not just learning, but finding joy in learning, and connecting with the Library as a place where learning and fun can happen together. Those positive associations will then hopefully carry on throughout the year.
“If they can engage directly with the Library, whether in the building, at an outreach event or a virtual program… it will hopefully lead to them being engaged with the breadth of what we offer, and then we can connect with all the different kinds of literacy we promote,” Delecki said.
The Summer Dare reading program is another extension of that.
“Summer Dare is really an experiential, intergenerational reading program,” he said. “We want people to read, obviously, but we want them to engage together with family, we want them to experience different things with each other, we want them to experience their community in different ways.”
And hopefully those positive experiences will then continue, even after the summer reading challenge is over.
“We want there to be positive and fun feelings around reading,” Delecki said. “We want to encourage reading for joy, reading for pleasure, reading for entertainment.”