Grant funds summer teen camp, books at library

A grant is helping inspire teens to make the right decisions in life.

The Barnwell County Public Library was one of 20 libraries across the country to receive a $1,000 Summer Learning Resources Grant from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). The grants are funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

“The grant’s purpose is to provide libraries with funds to purchase literacies resources that will strengthen and expand the impact of the library’s summer learning program towards teens most vulnerable to summer learning loss, including teens who speak English as a second language, teens in socio-economically challenged communities, and teens who are at risk of failing school,” according to a press release.

The Barnwell library used $600 to buy a variety of non-fiction books aimed at helping teens, such as test prep books for AP Calculus and PSAT. Other books cover cooking, personal finance and other topics that can benefit teens.

“There is so much stuff they don’t teach you in school anymore,” said library manager Tricia Gordon of why she wanted to purchase the books, which will be in the adult non-fiction section.

The grant also funded a six-week Game of Life Teen Camp for students in middle and high school. The camp taught teens new skills, such as sewing and job interview fundamentals, while also educating them on how to make important decisions.

“We tried to touch on the basics of adulting,” said Gordon. “It gave them something to think about.”

Playing the board game “Life” was a fun and educational way to start the camp. The game simulates a player’s journey through life, from going to college to retirement. Gordon said the game, which many campers had never played, allowed a discussion of how teens will have many decisions to make as they get older.

Each week had a different theme, such a personal finance. During the cooking day, Gordon used a book with 250 recipes you can make only using a coffee mug. She hopes the teens will see that cooking can be economical.

“Food always interests teens,” said Gordon, who is thinking about offering a cooking class in the fall.

Some of the other activities included sewing a cell phone case out of felt and floss, personal safety tips, school options, and what a laundry label means.

“I hope they got some confidence in their own abilities,” said Gordon, who is very grateful to YALSA and Dollar General for the grant.

She plans to offer the teen camp again next year.