Dedicated to the Demigods: Our Lit Camps
By Topher Bradfield
Children’s Outreach Coordinator and Camp Director for BookPeople
I began Camp Half-Blood in the summer of 2006 after having a group of enthusiastic Percy Jackson fans ask me, “Wouldn’t it be cool to go to Camp Half-Blood for real?”
Six years later we’ve gone from hosting one session of Camp Half-Blood to the seven sessions we have planned for the summer of 2013. In 2011 we added Camp Jupiter to the demigod family of camp programming. We do this for one reason: we’ll do anything to keep kids interested in reading. If this means, and it does, building the world of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, we’ll do it. We love the books, we love kids, we love creativity, friendships and adventure.
My goal with Camp Half-Blood & Camp Jupiter is a straightforward one: bring the books to life. Camps based on books seemed like a good idea when I started this journey and it’s turned into a passion. Since kids are such huge Percy Jackson fans and have basically memorized the books, I felt that it was more important to create an environment with engaging back stories that run parallel to the stories in Rick Riordan’s books without copying the books themselves. This allows kids to become their own demigod characters within the world of Percy Jackson. Demigods get to have adventures and go on quests as their own story unfolds over the course of their camp session. They learn and utilize critical lateral problem solving skills and use creative play and teamwork to win the day. We favor a whole learning approach to the camp experience. We try to make meaningful connections between history, mythology, literature, art, science, sports, current events, language and rampant creativity. Oh yeah, sword training, chariot racing, archery, lava wall climbing, and phalanx training are pretty fun, too.
We have an amazing family of councilors and educators, also big Percy Jackson fans, who return year after year to be a part of the community that demigod campers have made so rich and rewarding.
When you combine this with support from author Rick Riordan and publisher Disney/Hyperion, there isn’t much we can’t bring to life. This is the kind of camping community we love – everyone with a vested interest in continuing to find new ways to make reading the adventure we all know it can be.
Of course, before demigods embark on their adventure, we do offer a few words of advice:
- Do not try breathing underwater unless you are absolutely sure you are a child of Poseidon.
- Watch your wallet when you’re hanging out with Hermes cabin.
- Do not try arm-wrestling with the Ares cabin.
- And finally, watch where you step. The pegasi are not housebroken.
LARB learns how far Book People will go to keep the spirit of adventure alive for new and seasoned readers. Check back for more from the Naked Bookseller blog!
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