Pokemon programs, for me at least, are an easy sure fire way to draw kids in, even before Pokemon Go. I’ve run half a dozen “All Things Pokemon” programs in the past year and found they are also cheap programs, at least on our end!
Prior to Pokemon Go, I encouraged kids to bring their DSs, Pokemon games and cards with them. I routinely get a dozen kids, including more high schoolers than I get to any of my other programs (which, due to various reasons, are open to 10 to 18 year olds). Being able to play Pokemon – either in video game or card format – gives them a way to relate to and work with the tweens without feeling “too old” for a program that includes ten year olds.
They also love the self-sufficiency of the program. The actual running of it takes very little effort. The kids break down into video game or card game groups and basically run themselves. I do find I have to regulate card games and card trading a bit, in so much that I lurk as if I know the value of the cards and rules of the game well enough to tell if someone is cheating. It’s usually enough – added with the peer pressure from the kids watching – to keep things fair. I always offer a craft but I’ve found free printables – whether coloring pages (just googled) or these evolution paper crafts – that work well for those few kids who don’t come with either or want something to do besides gaming. Then I just put out colored pencils and, in the case of the paper crafts, glue, tape and scissors.
The bulk of my cost – as the printing doesn’t directly cost me – comes from the fact I feed them snacks and provide drinks. Nothing fancy usually.
I’ve gotten lucky with some of my program dates without realizing it ahead of time. First, I had a program within a week of the 20th Anniversary and served a special snack of “Peep-achus” (or Pika-peeps, depending on your preference).
They’re super simple to make – yellow bunny peeps with chocolate dipped ears and some red gel frosting for cheeks! The kids loved them.
Second, I happened to hold a program the very day Pokemon Go came out! It was sheer luck because I’d planned my summer programs months ahead of time. I was able to download it before the program (although I tried for a while on the library ipad since no one knew at that point I couldn’t use it and it half-worked before switching to my phone) and allow some of the kids to play with it and test it out. I think I missed all of level one! I was also able to talk to the parents who were curious about whether or not to let their tween play it. I could show them the game play as well and show that there was nothing offensive (except maybe its addictive qualities!) about it.
I’ve had one program since, at the start of school, and a lot of the kids brought their phones along with their DSs and cards. We dropped two Lures at the library’s Pokestop, which can be reached anywhere in the building, to cover the hour – some of the kids dropped one and I dropped a second – and kids would call out what Pokemon appeared so everyone would pause and catch them before resuming whatever activity they were doing before.
I consistently get solid numbers and the elementary kids have been so jealous we’ll be starting up All Things Pokemon aimed at their age too, with some of our Pokemon regulars helping out.