Monday, July 6, 2015

It's All Fun and Games at Chapters

Last week, as I was baking sugar cookies at 10:00 at night, Joel asked me why we host our summer camp at Chapters. That night I told him it was because I like to punish myself, and because I need a good excuse to make cutout cookies in July. 

Of course, those aren't the real reasons. The obvious purpose of camp--to get people into the store and sell more books and toys--is an important benefit, but it's only part of our motivation. The real reason we host our summer camps is to build relationships with the families who participate. Cheryl, Kelley and I are all former teachers, and every year during camp, we're reminded why we decided to become teachers all those years ago.

It's because we love the kids! Every summer we savor the opportunity to read to groups of kids, sharing their enthusiasm for a good story, and we remember how much fun it can be to play a simple game of "Penguin, Penguin, Walrus" or create something unique out of grapes and a tortilla--and then eat it!

Tara and Grace in 2015
Grace and Tara in 2013
Many of our campers have attended our events for several years. As I scroll through photos from previous years, I recognize several who have grown up spending a week at Chapters every summer. Some of them started as preschoolers and now are heading to middle school in the fall. Some have younger brothers or sisters who now attend camp. Some of our teenage volunteers have returned year after year, too. We treasure our ongoing relationships with these families--and, of course, with the families of kids who come for only a year or two as well. It's fun to see "our" kids' photos in the Seward newspaper and run into them at local restaurants, at church, around town, and when they return to the store.

So, thank you for sharing your children with us. We appreciate your trust in us and your support of our programs. We hope your families enjoy attending camp as much as we enjoy hosting you!

And a big thank you to everyone who helped with camp--Cheryl, Kelley, and Amalia; our volunteers Haley, Molly, Zoie and Morgan; our special guests Brian Albright and Holly Schindler; Chris Grabenstein for the author video; and anyone I may have neglected to mention by name. We appreciate you all!

Below are a few photos of this year's camp activities, and even a video made specially for us by author Chris Grabenstein. Many more photos are posted on our Facebook page. Our theme for the week was "It's All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Lost in a Book." After I read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein, a fun middle grade novel about a group of kids locked in a fantastic library to solve puzzles and win prizes, I knew I had to build our camp around the book. The author graciously agreed to make a video, just for us, and we used it to kick off our week. We spent the week making and playing games and getting lost in books (and finding others, including Waldo, a couple of mice, a walrus, a penguin, and a snake, who were themselves lost in books). In case your child came home talking about a book we read that they especially enjoyed, here's a list of the books we read at camp this year:

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce (I highly recommend the Oscar-nominated animated film version; find it on YouTube)
Where's Walrus? and Penguin? by Stephen Savage (Available Aug. 25, 2015)
Hide and Snake by Keith Baker
We Are in a Book by Mo Willems
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
I Spy! by Jean Marzollo
Where's Waldo by Martin Handford
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein
The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman
The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky by Holly Schindler

A highlight of the week was a SKYPE visit with author Holly Schindler, who wrote The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, a fabulous book about finding beauty in unlikely places and turning trash into treasures. Holly very graciously answered all our questions, and she loves to hear from readers. Young readers can visit her website, which is designed for kids ages 8-12, at

And we can't forget to mention that Waldo, of the Where's Waldo books, is hiding all over Seward during July. Find him in 21  businesses in town to earn a chance to win $100 in Chamber Bucks

For details and to download your search list, visit

Thanks for coming to camp!