One of the things I love most about summer programming for teens in my small town is that I can allow them to run amok if I so choose. The town is small enough and safe enough that groups of teens can complete scavenger hunts or other activities that take them outside the library. If you need to keep your programming inside the library, you could easily adapt this program to be an after-hours program where teens would have the run of the entire library.
For a program styled after the television show The Amazing Race, I knew I’d need a few things. First, I’d need locations for the teens to reach. Second, I’d need a task or puzzle for them to do at each location. Finally, I’d need clues to lead them to each location.
I chose five locations in town, one of which was the library (of course), and created challenges for each location. In one location, they had to assemble a puzzle (which was an 8×10 picture mounted on cardboard and cut apart). In another, they had to find a penny on the ground and then do a special knock on a door. In some places, such as the local cemetary, they had to answer a question (the name on the oldest grave) and would receive the next clue when they got the correct answer. At each location the teens were given a different colored beaded necklace. They needed to collect all five colors before they could return to the library’s program space, and the first group back received a prize.
One thing this event requires that most teen events don’t is volunteers. I needed adults (or other teens) who were willing to stand at each location and answer questions, give hints, and keep track of the teens. I was lucky to have a few parents who were willing to help out, as well as a couple of tweens and some staff members. Our teens love working together to solve puzzles, and the added element of being allowed to run around town to find the puzzles made this a winning program.
Are you able to have programs where the teens can leave the library and run around town? What programs like this have worked well for your group? Let us know in the comments!