Let me introduce you to the newest regular program in my Tween Queen oeuvre: Adventure Club! This is something I've been thinking about for a while. The library I did my internship at ran a program called "Boys Advenure Club" and another one called "American Girl Club" (or possibly "American Girls Club," I can't remember if there was an "S" or not). Both were insanely popular and seemed like easy and fun programs to run. So, once we finally got a new part-time staff member, I approached her about collaborating and starting up similar programs. They will alternate months (September was Adventure Club, October will be American Girl Club) and are geared toward kids ages 7 and up. Both genders are welcome at either club. Since we decided to start with Adventure Club in September, we embraced International Talk Like a Pirate Day and focused on pirates!
We had the program set up in stations, letting kids pick and choose what they wanted to do and in what order. Every kid received a new pirate name and name tag when they arrived (for atmosphere as well as a raffle at the end of the program). Our stations included:
Pirate hats: these were leftovers from a previous pirate program, so we decided to throw them in. The hats were all pre-cut and the kids had a variety of cutouts and stickers to decorate them with.
Pirate flags: we put out examples of real pirate flags and gave the kids sheets of black construction paper and pirate-y cutouts to create their own intimidating pirate flags. I saw a really cool one that had crossbones and cutlasses - that kid obviously wasn't messing around.
Hook hands: listen, when you're a pirate, you expect to succumb to some injury. And what is more glamorous than the loss of a hand? Glamorous because you can replace it with a hook! Kids made their own hooks out of plastic cups and aluminum foil. A number of enterprising pirates also used the aluminum to make their own swords and daggers - a truly piratical bunch we had!
Mad libs: we (well, actually my colleague did the heavy lifting on this part) created some pirate-themed mad libs for the kids to fill out. I was stationed across the room from them, but my colleague seemed disappointed with the number of kids that tried them out. We ended up setting the extras out on our general information table in the children's department for anyone to pick up.
Cannonball bowling: we painted a couple of tennis balls black to act as cannonballs and then taped some photos of ships to plastic bottles for the pins. We set up three different levels of play so kids could try to get better. This was very popular.
Scavenger hunt and tattoo parlor: scavenger hunts have been very popular in our library, so we decided to incorporate one in our program. Plus, aren't pirates always searching for treasure? Surprisingly, not a lot of kids wanted to participate in the hunt and it ended up being too difficult for most of them. This is where I spent all of the program, helping kids who were having trouble and administering tattoos to those who finished the hunt.
Obstacle course: this was another station that we knew would be very popular, though the kids were not good at following the rules. They had to put on an eyepatch, walk a plank, hop from turtle to turtle while avoiding the sharks and then throw a gold coin into a treasure chest. We tried to discourage running, but not to much success. Additionally, the eyepatch didn't impede their abilities as much as we anticipated. But, the kids loved racing each other through the obstacle course.
We drew two names at the end of the program as prize winners - one won a poster, a pencil and sticker set and a grow your own pirate, while the other won a book about pirates. Though the program was advertised as ages 7-12, we definitely had more of the younger end of that range. Also, they really embraced the pirate idea and were a pretty rowdy group, so it felt like we had a lot more than we actually did. Next time, I'd probably do the scavenger hunt differently and try to find a way to keep them abiding by the obstacle course rules. Overall, though, we had a good number for a Wednesday afternoon program and everyone had a good time!