Leaving a job you love

 

Leaving a job that you love can be daunting. How do you say goodbye? How do you move on? I just left my Teen Library job in January and I thought I would share some things that I did to help me move on and to help the teens transition to a new librarian.

Some background: I worked at the library for 3 years. Two of them as the teen librarian. I had gotten pretty attached to the kids and I knew that it would be hard to say goodbye. I had worked hard to build a thriving teen area in our library and our Teen Advisory Board had grown quite a bit since I started. My teens were instrumental in helping me make positive changes in our branch and getting their friends to come to programs. I’m really proud of the TAB members and their dedication to making the library a great hang out spot for their peers. If I had to be happy about leaving, at least I was leaving on an upward trend.

Blogs and sites with great advice: 

I asked for some advice on Teen Services Underground and got some good ideas on how to start my transition. One of my favorite bloggers The Magpie Librarian has a great post about leaving your library. While our reasons for leaving are different (my husband got a job out of state), I still found her advice on point. Check out her post: On Leaving your Library.

One of my favorite points from her entry is to “create an “I’m Leaving” elevator speech. Trust me, you will need this. You will get asked by lost of people including patrons why you are leaving. It can become very exhausting to offer a lengthy explanation each time. My response varied depending on the person.

Patron Response“My husband got a job in another state. It’s a really great opportunity for him and while I’m sad to leave a job that I love, I think it will be a great fresh start for the both of us. Besides, Colorado is beautiful!” 

This response kept things positive and upbeat. I used this on adult patrons and parent’s of the teens I worked with. It summed up the reasons without giving too much away. If they had further questions I could respond or walk away as needed if I was busy.

Co-Worker Response– ” My husband got a job in another state. It’s a really great opportunity for him. I’m really going to miss working here. You have taught me so much (if this was a mentor). I’m thankful I got to work with such a great staff.”  (This is just a short example)

Be sure to thank co-workers who have mentored you. I worked for a huge system so it was hard to get to everyone before I left. Send cards or personal emails. Make a point to visit with staff that you are close with and have those “hey you’re an awesome person and thank you” conversations. I also sent a goodbye email to our branch and to the youth staff. If you want to stay in touch be sure to include your new contact information.

Here is another blog with great career advice and some good words about some of the responses you might need to prepare for when you announce that you’re leaving: Resignation After-Effects

Telling the Teens: Be prepared for the feels… 

So for this part I’m going to tell you what I did and what I wish I had done differently. My husband left for his job the first week of January. We knew in December that this was happening. I thought that it would be a good idea to tell my supervisors that I was leaving as soon as possible so they were prepared. Everyone knew I was leaving for about 2 months. If I had to do this again I would have waited a bit longer. While it was great for transitioning the teens (more later), it sucked having the “oh your leaving” conversation for 2 months straight. It wore me out emotionally and physically.

What worked:

I told my TAB kids in December. I wanted to wait, but one of the kids found out through social media. His sister had aged out of the teen program and we are friends on Facebook. (she’s now in her 20’s) He convinced me that it would be better to tell everyone now than wait until the rumors got started. It turned out to be a good thing.

Let me tell you this was the hardest conversation I have ever had with my teens. They were shocked and I did tear up a bit. I managed to not sob and I was very thankful that my volunteer was with me to help explain things and pass out Kleenex. I let them know that my hubby had gotten a job and we were moving to a new state. I told them that they were wonderful kids and that I would miss them so much. I also told them how proud I was to be their librarian. I listed all the awesome accomplishments we had as a TAB group and then let them ask me questions.

  • Be honest– They can handle things better than you might think.
  • Be prepared for a range of emotions– I was surprised by the sheer amount of tears from my teens. Totally not expected. A few were mad. One had to leave the room. Let them deal with their emotions as long as they are being mature. You might have teen that rages about never coming back to the library. Let them rage. Then remind them that there are other awesome librarians that care about them. You might also get a ton of hugs!
  • Tell them as soon as you can- I’m so glad I gave the kids 2 months to prepare. I had time to transition them to the new librarian. I also had a chance to ask them what they wanted from the new staff. They gave me honest and thoughtful answers and came up with a list of things they liked and didn’t like about the current program. One of my teens even wrote a letter of recommendation for one of the librarians applying for my position. It was adorable and I think it helped her get the job!! I also had time to visit my outreach schools and break the news. I was able to talk to almost all of my kids before I left so there were no surprises. I know that my transition time was pretty unusual and the typical time is a few weeks at best. Go with what works for you.
  • Let them throw a party– You might be shy or uncomfortable with parties. Teens are not. Having a going away party with your teens is a wonderful way to close doors and help them move on. It also lets them do something for you. My teens planned a snack night glitter fest. It was epic! We had a blast and no one left in tears. It was a happy celebration of my time with them and I love every second of it. (even though I’m still finding glitter in odd places)
  • Decide how to keep in contact– My teens knew that once they graduated from High School they could friend me on Facebook. By that time they are “adulty-ish” enough to make their own decisions. They can however, follow me on Twitter or Instagram since most of my posts are library or book related and not very personal. All of my TAB kids have my email and only 2 kids had my cell #.  This is because I helped them out at school functions and speech and debate tournaments. You decide what works for you. I got a ton of messages at first and now I only hear from 2 kids on a regular basis. I’m very thankful that they seem to be moving on. (only a tiny bit sad) Some kids need that connection, but it’s okay to say no or set up a side email if you are not comfortable.

Things I would change and things that surprised me:

  • Time- Honestly, 2 months was good in some respects and sucked in others. If I had to do it over I would have waited another month. There were some teens that were sad every time they came in during that time frame. They cried a lot. It was an emotional ride for everyone. I think it also got exhausting for co-workers. I got sick of having the “why are you leaving” conversation and I know they got tired of hearing it. After about a month I was ready to move on and unable to do so because I was packing my house and I needed the extra paycheck. Thankfully, I have some amazing co-workers who were super supportive during the whole transition.
  • My emotional responses– I was an emotional wreck and exhausted. My hubby was in Denver and I was dealing with the house and closing everything down alone. I barely cried and held it all in. IT’S OK TO BE SAD! Crying is not a weakness. Just pick and choose your moments carefully. Sobbing in the stacks in front of patrons might not be a wise choice. Go for a walk and let some of those bottled up emotions out. Take deep breaths. Get plenty of sleep. Transitions and moves are high on the stress list. Self care is critical.
  • Dealing with angry teens– While one of my kids came around and understood why I had to leave, another never came back. I wish I had stepped away from my group and had a conversation with them right then. I thought they would come back and I would get another chance to chat with them. I was not prepared for how angry some of the teens would feel. If I had thought about it sooner I might have been a bit more prepared for that response. I also realized that in the end I could not take it personally. You never know what it going on in their lives. Just knowing that anger and yelling was a possibility would have helped me prepare a response rather than standing there in shock.
  • Negative patron responses– I was pretty tied to the community through my involvement/creation of LibraryCon. I was not expecting that some of them would take it as a personal affront that I would no longer be involved in this program. In the end I had to let it roll off my back. You can’t make everyone happy.

Ultimately how you say goodbye to a wonderful job is up to you. I wrote this to share some of the things I encountered when leaving. Most of them were good and I only had a few moments of “wow.” Which is pretty much the joy of working with the public! I am thankful that my job was supportive of my long term resignation. I’m also thankful that my teens took it well and helped the library hire an amazing new teen librarian!

Final thoughts- Don’t forget to take care of yourself and let some of those emotions out. Leaving a job is hard even if you are ready to go. I hope this post helps. Is there anything that I missed? Do you have good advice for leaving? Please link me up or add comments below.

 

 

 

 

Seasonal Passive Programming for YA

We do a lot of passive programming in our teen department. Most of it is themed and seasonal. Some of it follows special library events such as Banned Books Week. The most popular at our library is anything that involves art or drawing. I have a really creative group of kids that like to leave drawings around the library. We have a bulletin board in the department and I try to display as much as I can so the teens feel at home. Here are some ideas from our fall and winter displays. All of these ideas can created using die cuts.

 

Fall: Graffiti your Gourd 

The clever title was a suggestion from a post I made in Teen Services Underground. Thanks Jeretta! I think the pumpkins turned out amazing! I didn’t want to take them down for winter!

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Winter: Do you want to design a snowman? 

This one came from one of my teens. She sings this particular snowman song all year long and very loudly. I did have to toss a few snowmen due to carrots in inappropriate places. Other than that, they kept it clean! The snowman wearing the Led Zepplin shirt is my favorite!

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Passive Winter Prompt: Caption this Pet edition

This one is always entertaining. I love the this prompt. The “Caption this” idea came from Sherry at our Brentwood branch! We do this a few times a year at different branches with silly pictures or geeky movie stills.  I use post-it’s for the captions to cut down on the stuff I have to erase for being inappropriate. I also only put out pencils!

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As you can tell it’s finals week, so a few of my teens are pretty stressed out!

 

Do you do passives in your teen area? What are your most popular prompts? I would love to hear about them. As always feel free to steal these ideas! If you use the photos, please be sure to credit the source.

Holiday YA Books

Are you in the mood for a bit of Holiday Romance? Check out these titles:

festive-holiday

 

Titles:

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares- By Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily- By Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

What Light- By Jay Asher

Ex-Mas- By Kate Brian

Let it snow- By John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

Decked with Holly- By Marni Bates

Top Ten Clues you’re Clueless- By Liz Czukas

Books make great gifts

The holidays will soon be here and one of the best things to put on your shopping list is books! This past weekend our library had their top 2016 books you can gift to friends and family. I’m tackling the YA list and to be honest, it’s been a bit of a tough year for groundbreaking YA titles. I have seen lots of amazing sequels, prequels, and series finales. But I am still waiting on the next big trend in YA. I know I’m not alone in this feeling. I have talked with quite a few colleagues and they all feel like we are in the dreaded “what’s after Hunger Games” slump. Which is sad because there are some wonderful books getting overlooked while we wait for the next big breakout title.

My goal with this post is to highlight my top 5 picks from my presentation that would be great for Middle and Young Adult Readers. It is by no means exhaustive, since there are tons of great books that I have missed getting to read this year. My TBR pile is massive! I would also love to hear some of your recommendations. If you have a book or books that everyone should read and/or gift please let me know in the comments below.

Historical Fiction for Teens

Salt to the Sea- By Ruta Sepetys

By far this is one of my top 3 favorites for 2016. It is heart wrenching and beautifully written. Told from the perspective of 4 teens who are seeking freedom on the Wilhelm Gustloff during WWII, we learn the heavy price of perceived freedom. The sinking of this ship claimed 9000 lives and is one of the worst little-known disasters of WWII. I had never heard about this ship until I read the book. It’s tragic, raw, and the pace is very fast. This is a good one for teens that love well researched historical fiction.

 

Fantasy Fiction for Teens

 Rebel Of The Sands- By Alwyn Hamilton

This books is a mix of western and fantasy with dash of romance for good measure. It has some familiar elements from Arabic mythology but does a good job of coming up with an original story line with lots of adventure. Amani is a talented sharpshooter with one fatal flaw, she is a girl. Determined to get out of her dusty town she dresses as a boy and enters a shooting contest. When chaos ensues and she is on the verge of being discovered, she takes off into the wild desert sands with a boy who is not who he seems and has the entire army of the Sultan after him. There is lots of action and adventure with a romance that doesn’t take over the whole plot. This is a good one for teens that liked “Girl of Fire and Thorns” and other stories with a strong female lead.

Fantasy Fiction for Middle Grade

The Night Parade- By Kathryn Tanquary

Saki leaves the comforts of Tokyo and her friends for to visit her Grandmother in the Mountains. Her family gathers there to take part in the yearly Obon ceremony to honour their departed ancestors. Bored out of her mind, Saki decides to cause some mischief in the graves with some local “cool” kids. However, all that messing about at the shrine has stirred to life an ancient curse. A curse that will lead Saki on a night time journey through the most fantastical parade on earth, with special  guides who are not quite what they seem. She only has a few days to set things right before she is trapped in the land of the dead forever.

This book would be a good choice for fans of “Spirited Away” and other popular Studio Ghibli films. It has a bit of a slow start, but readers will soon be caught up in the adventure and the magical creatures they meet along the way. 

Fantasy Fiction for Middle Grade

The Inquisitor’s Tale- By Adam Gidwitz

One night in the year 1242, a man hears a story about 3 amazing children and their magical dog. The tale starts in France with a capture, follows them to a castle where they dine with a King, expands as they save a kingdom from a dastardly farting dragon, and ends at Mont Saint-Michel where they will attempt to thwart the burning of ancient texts. Can these children really perform miracles? Did their dog really come back to life?

This book is hilarious and full of adventure. Not only are you reading a story in the text but there is another story happening in the margins of each page. Which tale is really the truth? Gidwitz is a master of gross out humor and dark twists. This was one of my favorite books of the year and a ton of fun to read. Perfect for readers who like snark, blood and guts, good adventure, and lots of laughs. 

Realistic Holiday Fiction for Teens- 

What Light- By Jay Asher

Sierra’s family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—and every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. Sierra has always lived two lives and this year she is missing home more than she expected. When she meets a cute local boy with dark past, will she learn about forgiveness or will with rumors end their relationship before it even gets started? 

This was a wonderful book and perfect for the holidays. I so enjoyed reading this and it totally warmed my heart. It’s sweet and has a nice message about the power of forgiveness and trust. A total fluffy romance that is perfect to read during the holiday season.

 

 

Zombie Apocalypse – Playing the game

Hello again! I apologize for not posting this sooner. I have been out sick for a few weeks and have not kept up with blogging. If you missed the first part of my post about the Zombie Role Playing Game that we hosted this summer, check out my set-up post here. You will want to read that post to understand how to set up the game. In this post I’m going to go over game play and also let you know what worked and what didn’t.

Space- 

We are lucky to have several large rooms that are connected by doors and an outside patio. You can modify this to play throughout the library if you are brave and your branch manager is okay with wild zombie teens taking over the space after-hours. We do not have the staff to do an after-hours program so I planned it for a Saturday and utilized all of our community rooms. Our program was during summer reading and Missouri tends to be super hot and humid in the summer. I set up several water stations and neutral zones for the kids to rest and hydrate.

Once you get everything set up and decorated there are a few things I didn’t do that I would highly recommend:

  1. Give the teens that are going to play the game a quick tour of the area. We did not do this and the first round ended up being  really confusing.
  2. Have super huge signs for your medical area and any safe zones. I had smaller handmade signs. Once they got the hang of the game this wasn’t a big deal.
  3. Introduce all of your adult staff! It helped our teens know who they were and what part they played in the game.

The big talk- DON’T SKIP THIS PART!!!

Before I turned the teens loose into the game area I went over the rules and how to play the game. This gave them time to ask questions. My TAB group created a double-sided document of rules and game play. It was great for our older high school players, but the younger middle school kids just tossed it aside when the game began and did their own thing. If I did it again I would have a small half sheet with a check list of things they needed to remember when playing the game. I would also post the rules around the game play area on poster sheets.

Here is the document that our TAB group helped me write: Feel free to use and modify for your own game. It is rather lengthy which worked for our High School kids who really got into the RPG part but bombed with the Middle Schoolers.

Zombie Apocalypse Rule Sheet

Playing the game- 

** This is what we did for our game. This doesn’t mean that it will be the same for you. You might have a group of kids that work well together or you might have a very chaotic night. I am letting you know both the good and the bad of running a game this size with a mix of middle and high school teens.**

Goal:

The goal of the game is for each team to get enough food, water, and medical supplies to survive. They also needed to build a big enough shelter to house all of their team members. Teens who were zombies were tasked with infecting as many people as they could. Each round lasted for 15-20 minutes and we played for 1.5 hours. I gave them a 20 min break in the middle.

Teams:

We had 40 teens sign up for this program. I split them into groups of five. Four groups were survivors and the 5th group became zombies. At first, I had them draw colored popsicle sticks to determine teams. We had decided that the first round we would have random teams so that my TAB members wouldn’t have an advantage. This elicited a ton of whining from players who came with friends. It also led to some Lord of the Flies moments during the game. I wish I was kidding.

Turns out middle school boys will sacrifice their one high school team mate to the zombie hoard because he is too tall for their shelter.

The game:

All of the high school kids and few middle school kids (mostly my TAB members) really got into the role playing aspect of the game. If they got infected water, they would moan and groan in their shelter and act sick. If they got a card that said they broke a limb, they would bandage it and hobble around. They followed all of the cards that were on the food or water supplies that they gathered during the game. About a third of the players decided that the rules were crap and went all out crazy. They stole supplies, they destroyed other players shelters, and a few decided that they could throw supplies at other players and zombies.

So to be honest.. it was very much like a real apocalypse! Just not very fun for players who were trying to get into the game. This resulted in a few players having a time out and a warning that if they kept it up they would have to call their parent.

Zombie:

The zombies were tasked with tagging players with green stickers. The stickers meant that the player was infected and needed to go to the med tent for a cure. They could only put the stickers on a player’s upper back or arms. They could not run down a player or tackle them. Once a player was tagged they had to gather their whole team and go to the med tent for a cure. Or their team could decide that they were on their own and not save them. Holy, wow this was a bad idea… you would have thought the world was ending with this one. There were a few teams that decided not to cure players, which led to tears and arguments. The next round we scrapped this rule and went with you get tagged.. you go to the med tent on your own. This worked out way better and saved a lot of hurt feelings.

To be honest, I thought more teens would want to be zombies. I did have 5 kids that stayed zombies the whole game. It may have just been my group. We had more teens interested in the survival part than eating people for the game.

Zombies were released at different times. The first round the zombies were hiding before the rest of the teams got into the rooms. This was not a good idea. Most players were tagged before they had time to find supplies or build a shelter. The next round we released the zombies after 5 mins of game time and that worked a lot better. Teams had time to build a shelter and get supplies. The last round we released zombies in different spots at different times and that worked really well. It added an element of surprise to the game!

Shelter approval:

I know the whole “get your shelter approved thing” sounds a bit weird. The reason my TAB members decided on this rule was to keep people from destroying each other’s shelters and stealing supplies for the whole game. They wanted to help curb the chaos. For the most part, this was a really good idea. Once a team finished their shelter and everyone could fit inside they would grab an adult and get it approved. They adult had giant blue stickers that they would stick on the outside of the shelter letting other teams and zombies know that this was a safe area for that team.

If I did this again I would use 8 x 11 signs that said shelter approved. The stickers were hard to peel off once a new round got started and more that one team used that to their advantage during the next round.

The Med Station:

There were two adult volunteers that ran this station. They handed out medical supplies and cure to infected players. The players had to complete tasks to get cures. One of the tasks was to play the game of Operation. They would have to remove 3 pieces for a cure. Another task was to do the YMCA, pat their head and rub their tummy while whistling, and anything else my med guys came up with.

Once a teen got a cure (glow stick bracelet) they had to wear if for the rest of the game. At the end of the game, we gathered up all the cures for next round. This was a bit of challenge and we did have some teens hide them to use in later games.

My TAB members had a rule that if you got one cure you could not get another. This did not work and led to the zombies hunting down “cured” players and turning them almost immediately after they left the med station. We decided to skip this rule for the rest of the rounds. You could also limit where your zombies can hunt. We had a safe zone around the med station, but they still hovered nearby.

Evaluation time and issues-

The first round of our game was a mess. The combination of mixed teams, not knowing where things were located, and zombies on the playing field from the start, made for a crazy round. I had to stop this one early due to lots of confusion and outright anarchy! The other 2 rounds went a bit better once they were allowed to choose their own teams.

I am really proud of my TAB members for giving the game an honest evaluation. This is their list of what didn’t work and solutions:

Problem #1-

Mixing high school and middle school- We allowed upcoming 6th graders to come to the game. Many of them were way to immature to do this game properly. The whole RPG part was lost on them.

Solution #1-

Have a game just for Middle school and a game just for High school. This way younger players can just do the tagging and survival part and older players can role play.

Problem #2-

Where is everything?? It was really confusing not knowing where everything was before the game.

Solution #2-

Give a tour of the game area and introduce the adult helpers!

Problem #3-

Cheating!!! This was a huge issue. Many of the younger players were confused by the RPG part and ignored the supply twists.

Solution #3-

Not as many rules on the rule sheet. Posting them around the game area for everyone to see so there is no excuse not to follow the rules. Only RPG with older players and do a basic game with the younger players.

Problem #4-

Too many people!! 40 players is way too many for this type of game. It made keeping track of things really challenging.

Solution #4-

Only 20 players and dividing them by Middle and High School.

Advice from the Librarian-

I think my TAB team did a good job coming up with this game from scratch. It did have some issues but we managed them well and the last two rounds of the game were really fun. This is a fun game to do in your library and can be modified to fit a small to large group. I would honestly not do more than 25 teens for this game. Even with 5 adults, it was still hard to deal with all craziness and it WILL get crazy!

We didn’t really do as much RPG as we wanted to. I think it was confusing for players that had never heard of it before. It was one thing that we could have explained a bit better to our group. However, it was a good learning experience for my TAB team on how to create a game and explain it to new players.

If you have any questions about this game or need any tips, please feel free to message me! I hope that you try it with your teens!

Zombie Apocalypse Live Action Game – Set up

What do you do when you have an epic discussion about the zombie apocalypse with your Teen Advisory Board,  that leads to talking about real life scenarios and a “would you survive discussion?” You create a live action role playing game!

My TAB group has been more or less zombie crazed for the better part of a year. All of them have been begging for some kind of role playing game that involves taking over a large section of the library. After much discussion and a well thought out proposal from one of the girls, the Zombie Apocalypse program was born. My only request was that they plan the entire program from start to finish and help me with clean-up. This is the first program we have planned together as a group and I am super proud of how it all turned out. It took us 6 months and they all learned something about what it takes to run a library program. Needless to say, we will be doing this again very soon!

This was a monster huge program with a ton of prep work. I am breaking down the posts into a few parts. For this round I will walk you through the set-up.

Basic game outline for 30-40 teens:

  • Collect enough supplies for your team: Food, Water, Medicine
  • Build a shelter that will fit your entire team and get it approved by the Zombie Master (librarian)
  • Avoid zombies!

Space: 

We used 3 large rooms and our outdoor patio. If you are able to do this after hours you can use the entire library! This can be scaled up or down depending on the size of your group. I will explain why 40 teens was a bit much later on.

Supplies:

  • Instructions for players
  • Lots of empty cereal boxes, cracker boxes, etc..
  • Empty water bottles, empty gallon water jugs
  • Note cards to go inside boxes and jugs
  • Small empty boxes or old microfilm containers for med kits
  • Bandages- Torn strips of white cloth
  • Pool Noodle shooters- Pom, Poms, Pool noodles, Balloons, rubber bands
  • Socks
  • Giant Pom Poms
  • Smarties or Nerds
  • Bags to carry their loot
  • Boxes of all sizes- the bigger the better!
  • Other building supplies- Foam blocks, pool noodles, blankets
  • The Game Operation or Trouble
  • Glow stick bracelets blue- Dollar Store
  • Glow stick necklaces green-Dollar Store
  • Lots of bright green stickers- Think garage sale stickers
  • Funny signs
  • Tables for the Medical Station and General store
  • Pop-Ice and lots of water for players
  • Staff- We had 5 staff for 40 kids and could have used a few more people
  • Fans- it gets hot!

The set up: 

You will need to do lots of prep work for this game. This is a survival game that requires players to gather food, water, and medical supplies. They also have to build a shelter for their group. Start having library staff save food boxes, water bottles and jugs, and boxes of all sizes for shelters.

Food supplies:

We save boxes like cereal, Cheez-its, Mac and Cheese, Pop-Tarts, etc. Each box would feed a certain amount of people. We wrote the number on the outside of the boxes.

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Water supplies: 

You will need single serving water bottles and gallon jugs. Try to avoid Milk jugs for obvious grossness. The single bottle will water one person and gallon jugs will water the whole team. We used more of the single water bottles in the game and limited the amount of gallon jugs.

The evil supply twist:

Here is where you get to have some  fun. My teens decided that this needed to be as realistic as possible and very survival based. They determined that based on movies and books, not all the supplies would be safe to use. Food could be spoiled, water could be contaminated, Med supplies could give you the zombie virus; nothing is really safe! So, inside each box and taped to the outside of each bottle and jug were instructions such as:

  • Food has been contaminated. Go to the Med Station and do a task to get well.
  • Water has been contaminated. Eat smarties to cure yourself and purify the water.
  • While scrounging for food you broke your leg. Use the bandages on one leg and limp for the rest of the game.
  • Rats ate all of your food. Discard all your boxes and go get more supplies.
  • This box of food was poisoned. The whole team must go to the Med station for a cure.
  • Your water is safe!

You can get really creative with these. My volunteer and I had a blast thinking up clever demises for each box. We also made the choice to have single water bottles be the only safe thing in the game. Gallon jugs could water the whole team, but often came with a nasty surprise! In addition, the only safe food boxes were Cheeze-its.

Instructions on outside of jug

Instructions on outside of jug

Bags to carry supplies: 

You know those bags you get at conferences? This is perfect use for them. Each team got a bag to cart around supplies while they were building their shelter. You could also use paper or plastic bags.

Why my teens are obsessed with Cheeze-its and Sam’s club:

My teens are hilarious and we have lots of food based conversations. Somehow in the midst of discussing survival, Cheeze-its became a viable food source that can partially cure the zombie virus. I blame Dan who is one of my awesome teens who has since graduated and moved on to bigger and better adventures. #dansclubforever

She suggested that Sam’s Club would be the one stop shop for surviving the zombie apocalypse. The reason: Zombies can’t get Sam’s Club cards. At this moment my TAB group invented Dan’s Club (in honor of Dan). It’s also, the only surviving store in the apocalypse.  Each team would have to get a Dan’s club card at some point during the game. There would be a Dan’s Club store in one of the rooms where teams could use their card to “buy” supplies. Once at the store, they would have to complete tasks given to them by Dan to get much needed supplies. Tasks included:

  • Saying the alphabet backwards
  • Patting their heads and rubbing their tummies while standing on one foot
  • Doing the YMCA
  • Doing the Chicken Dance
This is Dan's Club

This is Dan’s Club. Yes, she has a selfie stick…

Dan decided to walk around in a Dan’s Club box during part of the game passing out Dan’s club Membership cards. Teens would have to brave the zombies and get a card to shop at the standing store. Here is a link to the card she created: (yes the spelling is bad- because spelling is not important during the apocalypse!)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7VP2WdERAeRaUY2X1BBYUFFM21ZMDZtNGEtdEtQLTBCeVlV/view?usp=sharing

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Having a “store” helped. Otherwise we were hiding supplies in the rooms and hoping that teens wouldn’t hoard things. (we were very very wrong) I will explain more in the game play post.

Med-Kits:

We happened to have a ton of leftover microfilm canisters that were perfect for Med kits. Inside we put a few cloth bandage strips (old t-shirts, sheets, etc..) and a few packages of smarties. One kit was enough for the whole team unless they got a defective kit. We did not tell them what the smarties were for (purifying contaminated water) so this messed up a few teams who ate them immediately! I decorated the outside like this:

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You can also use small boxes or paper bags. Some of the kits were empty and some kits had the note that said:

  • This kit is contaminated with the Zombie virus. Your whole team now has the virus. Head to the Med Station for cures.

Shelter: 

Each team had to build a shelter that would fit everyone on their team. Once it was built they had to get it approved by the Zombie Master (the librarian or one of the other staff). Approved shelters got a giant blue sticker. You could also use small flags or even a brightly colored sheet of paper to show that the shelter is approved.

Collect tons of boxes for this part. The bigger the better. We also used pool noodles, foam computer box inserts, and blankets. We did not give them tape. My teens decided that “there is no tape in the apocalypse.” I personally loved this idea, because otherwise it would be a tape nightmare. This also forces them to be super creative when building.

Defense: 

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Pom Pom Shooters

My teens decided that Nerf guns are evil and would cause nightmares for this event. (I silently cheered because they were totally right). They decided that the following items would be safe for weapons:

  • Zombies could be stunned but not killed by using a “weapon”
  • To stun a zombie for 10 seconds- hit them with the following items
    • rolled up clean socks
    • Pom Pom shooters – Instructions here
    • Giant sparkly Pom Poms- Find them here (I have had these for 2 years. I found them on sale at Joanns)

This worked out really well. We had a few assembled shooters and then hid a few kits around the game area. We also hid the Giant pom poms and socks. All of the items were soft and didn’t hurt when you threw them at other players. Trust me we had a whole meeting devoted to testing this out! If you can’t afford the shooters or the giant pom poms the socks are a super cheap alternative.

Zombies: 

Zombies wore a green glow stick necklace. Their job was to tag players using bright green stickers. Zombies had a limited number of stickers for each game. They could only tag players on their back, shoulders, or arms. When they ran out of stickers they just walked around and moaned or knocked over shelters that were still being built.

Med Station & The Cure: 

We decided that we needed a med station in the middle of the room. We used three tables and kept med kits and cures at the table. Two volunteers ran this area and I would advise more if you have a large group. When teens got notes from supplies or were tagged by Zombie they headed to the Med Station. At the station, they had to complete tasks to get Med Kits or the cure. My teens thought that the game “Operation” would be perfect as one of the tasks. You had to get 3 pieces out without setting off the buzzer for the cure.

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We put the cures in a paper towel tube and covered the ends. The cure consisted of a blue glow-stick bracelet. Once they got the cure they had to activate the bracelet and wear it for the remainder of the game. My teens made a rule that if they got tagged again while wearing the bracelet they immediately became a zombie. This was a bad idea. I will tell you why in the next post. There were only two cures out in the wild for players to find during each round. One only contained a pencil- no cure!

If their supplies had made them sick they had to do other tasks to get better or sit out of the game for 2 minutes.

Water station: 

Have lots of water and cups for your teens. They will get thirsty from running around. We had a water station in a corner and they could stop and get water or take a break if needed. Zombies could not tag anyone or wait for them outside the station. This was the neutral zone!

Decorations:

Break out the Halloween stuff and make your rooms look zombified! My teens decided to skip this part and only made a few posters for Dan’s club. It actually worked well for us and made clean up easier.

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Final thoughts: 

This is a lot of prep but totally worth it! We used a ton of recycled supplies and spent only $15! Next up, I will run through game play and include a link to the printouts I created for the game.