Marble kit

Carolina Forest branch librarian Jennifer Silmser demonstrates the marble kit, one of several Marvel Kit options kids will enjoy during the Summer Quest program at Horry County libraries.

Instead of watching cool stuff happening this summer, kids will be doing the cool stuff, says Jennifer Silmser, the Carolina Forest branch librarian.

The Summer Quest program will give kids hands-on, interactive projects they can choose. And without realizing it, they’ll be learning.

Other summers, children have been entertained by magicians, puppeteers, even hula hoopers at the libraries, but this year will be different.

“Summer reading programs have challenged the kids to read to prevent what we call the ‘summer slide’ so they don’t lose what they learned during the school year,” says Tracey Elvis-Weitzel, assistant director of libraries for Horry County.

“But this year, we want them to be engaged and motivated, and also learn. Instead of sitting idly by watching someone we paid to entertain them, we’ve created events and programs to motivate them.”

Summer Quest is a county-wide program beginning June 17, but will be fine-tuned in each library to meet the needs of that community.

Marvel Kits containing everything from science projects to marbles will be available for the kids to dig into and get involved with.

For example, at the Carolina Forest library, 3Doodler classes for teens will teach them how to use doodler pens on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Sign-up is required for those classes.

The monthly CaVRn Virtual Reality Showcase will introduce kids 11 and older to the latest in virtual reality technology.

On June 17 between 2-4 p.m. a virtual reality open house will be going on at the library to preview what’s available in that particular Marvel Kit.

With it, they’ll virtually ride a roller coaster, visit a T-Rex kingdom, travel through galaxies far, far away on a space ship, and go bravely through a haunted house.

There will even be a beginner’s crochet class with everything supplied.

Santee Cooper will be at the Carolina Forest branch as will representatives from the Horry County Museum who will teach the kids how to dissect owl pellets.

On June 7, Tidelands Health will do skin screening.

“The whole point of Summer Quest is to be less passive and more hands-on,” Silmser says. “They do lose so much over the summer, and we want to keep them engaged on a variety of levels. Whether they know it or not, they’ll be learning.”

Most of the Marvel Kits involve instructions, so even though it’s directions they’ll be reading, they’re still reading, Elvis-Weitzel says.

Another of the Marvel Kits involves building a huge marble maze, and another contains ordinary wooden blocks and no instructions.

That one lets the kids loose to use their creativity and imaginations without having to follow specific directions.

There will be something for the children to do at the library every day, right up until the week of Aug. 5 when awards, certificates and medals will be given out.

And of course, there’s the reading program itself, open to all kids, even the ones who can’t read yet, and their parents.

With the goal of reading or being read 20 books, the younger children will earn a prize for every five they read.

Teens and adults will be required to read three books because theirs are longer and more in depth.

“We want the kids to finish the summer and say, ‘That was amazing,’ because instead of watching people do things, they were engaged in doing things themselves,” Elvis-Weitzel says.

Children and adults can enroll and then keep track of their progress either online on the library’s website or with paper forms.

For more information, visit https://www.prod.facebook.com/pg/CarolinaForestLibrary/posts/, see the Facebook page or call the Carolina Forest Library at 843-915-5282.

“We don’t want the kids to think of reading as a chore,” Elvis-Weitzel says. “We want it to be fun and exciting. And when they think about a quest, we want them to think, ‘I can do that, I’ve got this.’”

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