At my YALSA Symposium presentation I told attendees that I would make sure to put up all of my Harry Potter Camp materials on the blog. I'd been meaning to it anyway, so this is a perfect opportunity to get my butt in gear. Instead of just dumping everything, I thought it might be helpful to do a series of posts on the various activities and link to them on the Harry Potter Camp tab that I've added on the main page. On that page you can also find some background info. and logistics about my camp.
First impressions are everything. That's why I felt it was important to ensure that the campers attending my Harry Potter Camp knew from the very first moment they arrived at camp that it was going to be awesome.
Creating atmosphere doesn't come cheap. You can very easily spend hundreds of dollars just setting up your space to give in the Hogwarts effect. I was lucky (seriously lucky) to have a decent budget and friends and colleagues that were willing to lend their Potter-phernalia for the week. You may not be so lucky, but thanks to Pinterest, there are tons of tutorials for interested folk who are short on money, but willing to put in some time and creative effort.
Platform 9 3/4
For me, this was a must. You can't get to Hogwarts without Platform 9 3/4 (well, you can, but not if you can't apparate). Since I was creating a camp that I planned to offer annually for as long as there's interest, I splurged on brick wall fabric, rather than printed vinyl. I purchased 3 yards of "Antique Brick Fabric" at Spoonflower. I didn't have a sewing machine, so I improvised and used safety pins to "hem" the fabric and create a pocket for hanging the panel. I hung the panel on a 3' dowel (purchased at AC Moore) that rested on 2 Command Large Plastic Hooks, placed on either side of the entryway. I also purchased a small (13"x19") Platform 9 3/4 Poster Print. Because of the location of my library, there's a constant breeze that runs down the hall and blows into the library. I weighted down the bottom of the panel with a few 12" dowel rods as well.
Inside the library I set up a small area with a bunch of props that would also be used throughout the week. The table was a gift from one of our English teachers who made it years ago. She was de-cluttering and thought perhaps I could put it to good use. I sure did! I used the small table and as a bit of a staging area for the Sorting Ceremony (more on that in my next post), and used the circulation desk behind it to display the vases where we would keep track of points for the week.
Also on display were a Quaffle, a Snitch, Hedwig in a cage and some Butterbeer (available at Wegman's). These amazing props (and the poster) were loaned to me by generous muggle friends and colleagues. Not pictured, but also added to the display was packaging for a variety of Honeydukes Treats (Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Bean, a Chocolate Frog, Peppermint Toads and Fizzing Whizzbees) all purchased at Harry Potter World, where a friend happened to be visiting the week prior to my camp!
The Great Hall
Possibly the coolest part of the entire camp was the "enchanted ceiling" of floating candles that hung over the library tables. The candles, combined with the house banners, really made the library feel like Hogwarts.
The pictures just do NOT do it justice. It was breathtaking. Captivating. The kids loved it so much that they begged me to leave it up for the school year (I didn't). Hanging the house banners was a piece of cake. The candles were another story.
It's hard to see how this worked, and I won't have the ability to go back and get better pictures until next summer. I also didn't have to buy the supplies (HUGE shout out to my husband's best friend and his wife who got married earlier in the year and had a library/Harry Potter themed reception, who not only showed me how they did it, but gave me all of their stuff!), so I'm not exactly sure where the supplies came from. But it basically worked like this...Tie fishing line around a flameless battery-operated taper candle and clip the other end of the fishing line onto a magnetic clip. The hard part was standing on top of the tables and throwing the candles up in the air, hoping that the magnets to stick to the metal parts of the drop ceiling. This took at least 2 hours and was quite a literal pain in the neck. Only afterwards did a realize that I could have used some some of grippy pole that would have allowed me to hang them with ease.
And there you have it! That was the set up for Harry Potter Camp. Note that if you're short on budget, doing things like sponge painting a white sheet for Platform 9 3/4, buying knock-off HP merchandise and creating your own house banners can definitely save you a bunch of money. Google around. There are tutorials for creating everything.
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