It's a Library Camp Out!

This is the third year we have kicked off summer with a library read in-camp out. As luck would have it both Friday the 13th and a full moon made it imperative that the evening feature spooky stories.

 We do this after hours - the doors lock at 6:00 pm on Friday, we have a brief break and re-open for our campers. Everyone is invited to bring blankets or sheets, flashlights and wear PJs. We have a few teen volunteers who take chairs out from tables to create camping sites (whether under the table or using chairs) or help put blankets between shelves anchored by piles of books to create a cozy reading nook.

The room is darkened with just a little light coming in through the windows. The first half hour is spent building tents, signing up for SLP and reading. We gave everyone a few minutes heads-up to undo their tents near the end of the 30 minutes. Then we invited families into the program room, where spooky stories and walking s'mores were ready (2 boxes of honey graham bears + 2 packages of chocolate chips + one bag of mini-marshmallows = one cup of sweet fun) - and our our fake campfire. A display of fine spooky books were ready for kids to check-out.

We had some younger kids than usual so I started by reading Reynolds/Brown's Creepy Carrots. I let kids know that each story would get creepier so they could leave if it got to be too much. I told the "Coffin Story" and "Tailybone" with the lights low - but kept a bit more on the lighter side. Everyone made it (so brave!).

While the stories were happening our volunteers quickly put the room back together. Families had time to check out a few books (thanks to our director who staffed the check-out and did final lock-up).

This is one of the easiest, most pleasant and laid back unprograms one can do for summer - or any time of the year. Kids and families love the magic of an empty library and those that come love the reading and the program.  For more samples of how to do it, drop by earlier posts here and here and Amy did her own fun take on it last year.


  1. Following the detailed steps provided here on Tiny Tips and over at The Show Me Librarian, we tried a "Family Fort Night" at our library this year. It was a natural fit since we are located in FORT Atkinson. The program was a huge success! Thanks for sharing this great idea!

  2. Do you do registration or do people just come? If no registration, how do you keep out all the non-program people?

    1. People just come . We usually get 30-50. We have a staffer at the door to make sure just families who are participating in the program come in - and not just folks who think we are still open and want to use computers or pick up reserves. Our director is there as well to do check-out and back-up if we run into problems. We never have!

    2. I think I'm going to propose this for next year - I don't like how I'm doing kickoff now and I think this would be AWESOME!