Everyone thinks of libraries as the place to read or check out books. But a summer day camp program in three Eastern Washington communities demonstrated that local libraries are much more.
For six weeks this summer, kids in Harrington, Lind and Reardan took part in the Stimulating Summers Enriching Young Minds day camps in the communities that were supported by their libraries.
Camp attendees explored different themes through crafts, games and reading. Themes included space camp, art around the world, pirate week, mad science week, survivor week and sports camp. Attendees also went on field trips to the Grand Coulee Dam, Mobius Science Museum, the brand new Inland Northwest Railroad Museum outside of Reardan and the Lincoln County Historical Museum in Davenport. Free snacks and lunches were provided by the USDA Summer Food Service Program.
“We’re working to show residents in Adams and Lincoln counties that libraries do more than loan books to help promote learning,” said Carolyn Petersen, the Washington State Library’s assistant program manager for Library Development. Petersen organized meetings with library officials and other individuals in the three communities to coordinate efforts to prepare for the day camps, which ran from early July through mid-August.
The day camp program was funded primarily through grants that Petersen helped secure, including nearly $30,000 from the Inland Northwest Foundation, $20,000 from the federal Library Services and Technology Act program, and $5,000 from School’s Out Washington.
“These local libraries pitched in to help support learning during the summer, and they made it fun for the kids who took part,” Petersen added. “We had really good participation, but we did not co-opt any other local day-camp program in these towns.”
The camps succeeded in persuading kids that reading is fun, Petersen said, sharing one example about the Lind day camp.
“Ritzville Public Library Director Kylie Fullmer regularly visited the Lind kids during the afternoon session of the day camp. The first two weeks when she would inquire which books they had read during the morning Feed Your Brain activity, one child was vehement in stating that he HATED reading and didn’t read at all. By the third week, he began to tell her about which books he had read. Then on weeks four and five, he was impatient for her to bring down even more books from the Ritzville Library for him to devour.”