Copperas Cove Public Library holding Hero Camp during Summer Reading Program
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove Public Library is currently offering ‘Hero Camp’ every Tuesday for youth ages 11 to 15, where pre-teens and teens will learn how to swordfight and do crafts as well as analyze the lessons of fairytales.
A small group of about five youth met earlier this week to continue learning sword fighting from Library Director Kevin Marsh and volunteer Colin Darby.
The group practiced their footwork and charging at their opponent for the first part of the meeting before gathering in a circle to discuss the lessons they are learning from the stories they are working on.
After the story time, the group began working on painting their wooden shields.
Desiray Clark’s son and daughter, Stephen, 14 and Lilyanna, 12, are enrolled in the Hero Camp. Although Stephen wasn’t present for Tuesday’s camp, Clark said he participated last week and loved it.
“When I first heard ‘Hero Camp’, I was thinking like superheroes and I was kind of like ‘Hmm’, but then I found out it was more medieval and kind of along those lines,” Clark said. “I was really excited to sign my kids up for it when I heard that it wasn’t superheroes, but what it really was because this is right up our alley. We love medieval festivals and things of that nature.”
Clark said that her daughter prefers the creative crafts, such as the neck guards the group made last week.
“She’s very artistic, so I think painting her shield is something she’s going to enjoy,” Clark said. “They’re combining making things with doing things with also the practical using your imagination with the stories they’re writing during the week.”
Clark said her family has not participated in summer reading programs in a long time.
“Over the course of time, we just have not been wowed by them for investing our time in summer programs because usually they’re just very basic and boring and we’re homeschoolers so we do a lot of creative things, and so it was just really anticlimactic for my kids,” Clark said. “This is exceeding our expectations. This is just absolutely wonderful, and I’m just so impressed with the things that they are doing with the kids in this program.”
Clark added that there is something for every child’s interest with the different sections.
Volunteer Colin Darby is also a parent. His son Sean, 15, and daughter Elizabeth, 14, are enrolled in the program as well.
“It gets my kids out of the house for a couple hours a week, which is important since they’ve been stuck at home since March,” Darby said. “It is good that they are able to get out and do something, and it gives us a chance to continue doing otherwise suspended hobbies. I’m in favor of it as a matter of fact because I think it reminds me why I got into those other hobbies anyway.”
Darby said his favorite part was the sword fighting.
“I’m mostly here to teach kids how to hit people with sticks,” Darby joked.
He added that the advantage of this kind of program is that it teaches kids how to use force appropriately, in a way that minimizes risk, even though they are using duct taped foam swords.
“There’s also a tremendous deal of self-confidence that comes with knowing that your body could take more of a beating than you thought it could or that you can do things that you didn’t think you could, and that has been the biggest lesson out of all this that I’ve ever done for me, and I like sharing that,” Darby said.
This is the first year that the library is running the Hero Camp.
According to Library Director Kevin Marsh, the camp is serving as one big experiment.
“As I was joking with the kids earlier, I’ve been sword-fighting for about 40 years now,” Marsh said. “Someday I’ll get good at it, but I think I’ve got things I can teach there and some ways I can use the sword-fighting as a kind of the bait to get them to come in and think about the stories and the lessons they can pull from the stories and visualize how to put themselves in the story and what would you want to do in these circumstances in this setting. I think I got their brains engaging with this, and they’re also just learning that they can do things. In a culture where we buy so much stuff, it’s nice to learn that you can make a custom painted shield by just cutting one out and painting it.”
Marsh added that all of the crafts at Hero Camp are “real crafts.”
“They’re making a thing that they will do something with,” Marsh said. “They’re making it out of real materials, not fake stuff.”
Marsh said it has been time consuming operating the Hero Camp every week, but it is worth it.
“I was worried about how much time it would take,” Marsh said. “I wasn’t sure if the kids would get into it, and they’ve just really been diving in feet first.”
Hero Camp will run until mid-August and is open to kids ages 11 to 15. Parents can register their kids by going to the library’s website at: www.copperascovetx.gov/library/children/.