To kick off our summer reading program in the past, our library hired an entertainer. It was a stress-free way to begin the summer, and I could understand why any library would love to bring entertainment to town. However, when I took over the youth programming last year, I realized that first, an entertainer would take half of my yearly programming budget for an hour program, and secondly, I had no guaranteed attendance at that program. So, in one hour, I would see half of my budget gone, and the real possibility of only a handful to children there to see it.
Wanting to offer something that was not so hard on my budget and still offered youth valuable learning experiences, I offered a checkers tournament both last year and this year as our first official youth program in the summer. We received about 20 kids at each program. My total budget is $30 and the winner of each of the three age categories goes home with a $10 bill. I have three age categories: Grades 1-4, Grades 5-8, and Grades 9-12.
Set up involves moving 6 tables to the programming room, and setting up 12 checkerboards. This would accommodate 24 people, and so far, we have always been just under that. I have about 20 checkerboards in my supply room, so if we did get more kids, I could bring those out within minutes. I asked my teen volunteers to help me set up the tables this year and all the checker boards. We were done in about 15 minutes with everyone helping.
On the evening of the event, kids come in and the facilitator signs them up on a tournament bracket for their age category. Here is the one I think we used: Printable Single Elimination Bracket. It is single elimination, so once the student has lost once, they are no longer eligible to win the $10. However, both years I saw that the kids really just wanted to play, so we kept teaming them up with another student who had lost, and they played each other until all the winners in each category had been announced. They loved playing, and I think that we might try to host a checkers night here at the library. We would not offer prizes, just bragging rights. The kids loved playing, and I think we may even offer to have some tutoring available to show students some strategy, and talk about good moves vs. not so wise moves.
I heard this idea first from another library, and they told me that after years of offering it, kids have begun to count on it, and start to get excited weeks before the contest. I hope that happens for us!
Here is the editable PowerPoint slide that I used to create the flyer which we used for promotion. Have fun!
2017 Checker Tournament