Copperas Cove Public Library wraps up Summer Reading Program
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove Public Library wrapped up its annual Summer Reading Program with parties for each age group held on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Due to COVID-19 and correlating restrictions, the Summer Reading Program was different this year than in previous years, with kids divided by age, meeting in small groups. There were no large assemblies or activities.
Something new this year was the Hero Camp, for youth ages 11-15, which met every Tuesday evening. Kids in this group learned how to swordfight using foam swords and focused on what makes a hero.
Library Director Kevin Marsh said he was pleased with how the Hero Camp and the other Summer Reading Programs went this summer. When the library began planning for the Hero Camp, the COVID-19 pandemic had not yet arrived.
“We’ve really been very careful this summer,” Marsh said. “We’ve been able to do a lot of small group activities but none of the big shows, none of the things we would normally do on a Summer Reading Program, but the kids have again had fun, learned things, turned in their reading logs, kept themselves engaged in learning and growing through the summer.”
For the Hero Camp, the attendance has stayed at or around five to six youth coming each week. They learned the basics of sword fighting and did crafts related to the theme of heroes.
“They’ve painted up shields and they’ve been working stories about other heroes and putting themselves into the story as well,” Marsh said. “We’ve talked about the elements of the story and the elements of a hero’s journey, so they’ve had a lot of learning, a lot of playing. We’ve done a little serious sword fighting instruction but mostly just jumping around and attacking each other with swords.”
Marsh said he was pleased with the progress the kids have made in their sword fighting skills throughout the program.
The group of teens spent Tuesday evening teaming up and fighting before eating pizza and cupcakes.
Marsh said that the Summer Reading Program is meant to prevent what is called “The Summer Slide.”
“It’s really about keeping their minds engaged. If kids are just going to sit on the sofa all summer or just gonna veg out - they need some time to relax- but, kids who don’t stay involved through the summer tend to lose some of the knowledge they had gained the previous year,” Marsh said. “We try to avoid the slide. We’re going to fight the slide here. We want kids to keep reading and keep thinking about what they’re reading.”
In the Hero Camp, the teens discussed what messages and lessons are being taught in the stories they read, such as different values and virtues, Marsh said.
“I think just keeping their brains engaged, giving them new ideas to think about- you know, it doesn’t really matter if it’s sword fighting or robots or 3D printing or just whatever we can use to catch their imagination and keep them thinking, keep them learning and growing; that’s what we’re trying to accomplish,” Marsh said.
For Lorelei Sampson, one of her favorite parts of Hero Camp was learning how to swordfight.
Elizabeth Darby said she enjoyed trying to help others.
“It’s been fun seeing other kids as like actually doing some of the stuff that I’m doing because most of the kids at my school don’t know much about this [sword fighting],” Darby said.
In addition to the discussions and fighting and crafting, the teens also worked on a series of writing assignments.
Each kid picked a hero from literature or history or mythology and then picked a hero name for themselves to be an ally or companion to the hero and come up with their own story in that setting. Each week, the group talked about a hero’s journey, different abilities that make someone heroic, talked about virtues and values of a hero and how sometimes failing makes for a more interesting story, as well as what makes a good ending, and wrote an accompanying piece relating to the discussion and their character. The goal was to have pieces of writing that could go together to create a story from beginning to end.
“This was the first time we’ve ever run Hero Camp and I think overall, the kids were able to learn the things we were trying to teach,” Marsh said. “They were having fun with it, and willing to try all of the crazy things I told them to do, even bending their back leg and things like that, so I think it’s been a success.”