See and be seen at the Teen Scene

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Not so long ago, I was a bored teenager in Polk County. As a PCHS class of 2000 graduate, I can attest to the fact that there’s not a lot to do for teens in the area outside of school activities. I know several community members and organizations that are trying to change that, and the library is one of them.

Recently the library conducted community interviews and surveys as part of our strategic planning process, and one thing we heard loud and clear is that teens in our county need more. And we agree.

We already have weekly “Teen Scene” programs for middle and high school students at both our main library in Columbus and our branch in Saluda during the school year. Our next project will be to create teen spaces in both libraries. Until then? We have lots going on for teens this summer, a time when boredom can reach its peak.

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The Summer Reading Program kicks off with a 5k Mutt Strut at Harmon Field on June 18 and wraps up with an exclusive pool party at Gibson Pool on August 10 for those who meet their reading goals. In between, teens will have a wide variety of program options to choose from at 2 p.m. on Mondays in Saluda and Thursdays in Columbus.

Love video games? We’re having Mario Kart, Just Dance, and Super Smash Brothers championships on the Nintendo Wii U. Winners get an awesome trophy and even cooler bragging rights.

Solving mysteries more your thing? Join us for an 80s Murder Mystery (sign up in advance and come dressed in character) or our Escape Room, an adventure game where participants have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles within 60 minutes.

The program I’m most looking forward to is Chocolate Challenge, where we will have fun games and activities featuring everyone’s favorite food group: dessert!

In addition to these weekly programs, the Columbus Library will host Dungeons & Dragons for teens on alternating Tuesdays. This program is limited to ages 13-18 and requires advance registration. For those unfamiliar with the game, D&D assigns each player a specific character to play and these characters embark upon imaginary adventures within a fantasy setting. Together they solve dilemmas, engage in battles, and gather treasure and knowledge.

Role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons involve storytelling, foster creativity, require players to think on their toes and solve problems, and encourage teamwork.

The highlight of the summer for teens at the library is the annual National Teen Lock-In. This will be the third year in a row we are participating and competing against other libraries across the country in a photo scavenger hunt and Minute to Win It games. Held on a Friday night after the library closes to the public, Teens Take Over is a unique event and one of my favorites.

I will have an information table set up in the cafeterias at both PCMS and PCHS this week. Come learn more about our teen events this summer or let me know if you have suggestions for future programs!

Jen Pace Dickenson is the Youth Services Librarian at Polk County Public Library.

For information about the library’s resources, programs, and other services, or call (828) 894-8721.