Jabberwocky Day - Where Literacy and Summer Camp Collide!

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This is Jabberwocky!

What happens when literacy and summer camps collide? The extraordinary. As the coordinator at the City of London’s Byron Day Camp, I had the honour of merging Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky Poem and the classic Day Camp Scavenger Hunt.  Campers completed challenges based on the unusual words found in the poem. Once a camper group completed a challenge, they moved with their counsellor to the next station where they faced another literacy-based feat.

Climb upon this bridge I beg,

come sit and read of me.

upon the downward slope

or in the shade beneath

Jabberwocky Day began with each counsellor reading the poem for their campers. Many of the younger campers were confused by the new words used in Carroll’s poem. Some campers exclaimed, “That’s not a real word!” at the sounds of Tumtum, Jabberwocky, Momeraths, Bandersnatch, and Jubjub. After reading the poem to set the tone of the hunt, campers opened their first clue – a riddle that when solved would lead them to the location of their first task.

Though the ground may be cold and hard,

a Tumtum tree may grow a yard.

The air is chilly where the Fandidies hum,

perhaps you have been there some?

As difficult as this riddle was, camper groups quickly solved it and were rapidly onto their first adventure. At the Towering Tumtum Tree challenge, campers had to work as a team to construct a tree based on what they thought the poem’s tumtum trees looked like using only newspaper and tape. Once their tree was constructed, they could open their next riddle and move onto their next adventure. The Echoes of the Jabberwocky task had campers pick out a type of expression from a hat, then read two lines of the poem with that expression. For our Away in the Woods challenge, campers had to venture into the Jabberwocky forest where they met the Jabberwocky herself, one of our enthusiastic counsellors, and had to rescue strange creatures from within the forest without being tagged by the “fearsome” Jabberwocky.

Just beyond the land where the Wibbles hit their ball forth and back

You'll find a shy and hidden creature to keep you on track

At our Meddling Momeraths challenge, campers had to navigate through a sea of pylons and correctly identify under which pylons the momeraths hid. If they lifted up the wrong pylon, a new camper would attempt to find the meddling momeraths. Campers had to use their memory as well as team work to find the mysterious momeraths. The Jabberwocky Jigsaw task had campers create a composite drawing of what they thought the Jabberwocky looked like. Campers would draw one body part of the creature then pass their drawing to the next camper, until the drawing was complete.

A safe haven from fires is where you must be

in order to cross the great big green sea.

Together you must go, on a raft you must latch

lest you be gobbled up by the Bandersnatch.

For our Bandersnatch challenge, camper groups attempted to the treetops of an imaginary forest using only equipment such as hockey sticks, hula hoops and skipping rope. If any camper fell (or stepped) off the equipment, they would be transported back to the beginning of “the forest”. If any piece of equipment was without a camper, the bandersnatch (the groups’ counsellor) would swoop in and steal that piece of equipment. Our jubjub challenge was an adaptation of tag. One camper would start off as ‘the Jubjub”. The jubjub flapped their arms and try to tag others. When campers were tagged, they would join arms with jubjub, with campers on the end flapping their arms and running toward uncaught campers.

This place smells like home and tastes like home too.

You've been here quite often, yes this is true.

It is a land of tea parties and snacks.

But here you will find a strange creature to stop you in your tracks.

Our Jabberwocky Day exposed campers to the wonderful world of literature and showed our kids that literacy can be fun, exciting, and challenging! After the hunt was completed, and I asked campers what their favourite part was most quickly replied, “EVERYTHING!”

Submitted by Adam Newton

Byron Day Camp Coordinator, 2013

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