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Sleepover good trade for TV

I have a confession to make. Last year, I purposely kept my little one in the dark about the annual library camp-in. I didn't think I wanted the inconvenience of a screen-free week. I didn't think I wanted to give up my comfortable bed for the library floor. I didn't think either of us would miss it.

I was wrong.

First, I envied the experiences our friends had in place of screen time. Second, seeing images of camp-in fun, including sleeping arrangements, made me wish I was there. And finally, my daughter found out about it and felt sorely deprived. I promised her we would do it next year.

"It's almost here," I told her the other day.

"Yay!" she said.

"It means no screens for a whole week. No TV. No computer. No phone." I reminded.

"Yay!" she repeated.

"Why?" I asked, surprised at her reaction.

"Because I get to spend the night at the library."

Soon after, I struck up a conversation about the event with a "panel of experts," specifically, the 8- to 10-year-olds whose experiences inspired jealousy last year.

First I asked about giving up screens for a week? "Is it hard?"

"Nope. If you want to be entertained, read a book or something."

"What else?" I asked.

"Play a game. Go outside. Play in your room. Pick up your room …"

"Pick your nose," another boy added. They all laughed.

Until closing time, the day of the camp-in is a normal one at the library. Kids are hushed and herded to their area upstairs, and the quiet on the main floor is as tangible as the books on the shelves. But between the time when the doors close for the day and when they reopen for the night of fun, the place is transformed. It looks different with decorations and crafts. It feels different with librarians acting their theme-inspired parts. It sounds different as excitement and activity spread throughout the building.

Upstairs where the kids play is apparently a popular spot to pitch your sleeping bag, but those spots fill up quickly, and it's good to have a back-up plan. One year, when our first choice wasn't available, we poorly chose a location that was close to both lights that never dimmed and a path that attracted bathroom travelers. Double whammy. This year, I'm going to take my friend's advice and "scope out the best spots before the event."

My sources talk about memories of playing tag, carnival games, face painting and fort making.

"You can make forts between bookshelves," one boy says.

It's a simple enough concept: tying up sheets to create forts. But it makes a great experience even better because, and I quote, "sleeping in a fort is extra awesome."

Will Hornyak is a master storyteller and will preform

Will Hornyak is a master storyteller and will preform “The Magic Box and Other Tales of Wonder and Mystery” at the Salem Public Library’s Camp-In.(Photo: Special to the Statesman Journal)

 

Before crawling into "bed," there's a show to watch. (This year's performer is a master storyteller.) There are snacks to eat. (My friend recommends bringing extras from home just in case.) And there are bedtime preparations to make. (Don't forget your toothbrushes.)

Finally, I asked the kids, "What's your favorite thing about the sleepover?"

A few of the responses were similar (and impressive): "Staying up late, and you get to read lots and lots."

A couple of them couldn't decide and named everything we'd talked about.

But the youngest boy knew his favorite without hesitation: "In the morning, you get muffins."

I'm not sure what my daughter's will be, but she's pretty sure, "I'm going to love all of it."

Holly Hamlin lives in Salem with her husband and four children ranging from ages 6 to 18. Kid Trips appears Tuesdays in this section. Write to Kid Trips, Statesman Journal, P.O. Box 13009, Salem, OR 97309-3009. Letters can be faxed to (503) 399-6706 or e-mailed to STEFHAM@Comcast.net.

 

Library Camp-In

 

No Screens Challenge (Jan. 24-30): Pledge to take the challenge online or at Youth Services at the Central Library.

I Spy Mystery Great Library Camp-in (Jan 30): Sign-ups start Jan. 27 for those who are successfully fulfilling the no-screens challenge.

Where: Salem Public Library Central Library, 585 Liberty St. SE, Salem

Online: bit.ly/1yiBnB9

Youth services: (503) 588-6088

Cost: Free