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Kids Learn Sword Fighting and Greek Mythology at Camp Half-Blood

By Camille Bautista | April 28, 2016 11:02am
 Greek mythology-inspired day camp Camp Half-Blood includes games, quests, and courses including stealth training, sword fighting, and more.
Greek mythology-inspired day camp Camp Half-Blood includes games, quests, and courses including stealth training, sword fighting, and more.
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Facebook/Camp Half-Blood Brooklyn

BROOKLYN — Swords will swing and demigods will go head-to-head this summer as they fight monsters in Brooklyn.

The children of Athena, Apollo, Poseidon and others will use their skills to bring honor to their cabins — with the battle arena set in Prospect Park.

Camp Half-Blood, a summer day-camp started by Bedford-Stuyvesant resident and former bookstore owner Crystal Bobb-Semple in 2010, returns this year with new interactive courses for kids to immerse themselves in literature and Greek mythology.

Based off the popular children’s series “Percy Jackson & the Olympians” by Rick Riordan, kids transform into demigods — the offspring of a mortal parent and a Greek god — and take on adventures while learning lore.

“A sort of vision of trying to bring stories to life, that’s what Camp Half-Blood and our parent company, Plato Learning, is all about,” said the camp’s director of operations, Tim Ling. “It’s something fun for kids to do over the summer that involves storytelling and bringing a lot of the components of literature into real-world fun.”

Each day opens with a “sword circle,” where campers from rival cabins duel one another using decorated swords crafted from PVC rods, foam and duct tape, Ling said.

Attendees aged 7 through 12 are split into cabins based on their parent-god: Athena, Artemis, Apollo, Ares, Poseidon, Hermes, Hephaestus and Hades. Over the course of the week, they can choose electives based on their interests.

When they’re not playing games with a Greek-mythology spin, such as “Laistrygonian ball” (dodgeball based off of monster giant cannibals in the Riordan series), capture the flag and more, they can learn how to sword fight or attend stealth training, among other options.

Electives include war journalism, potion making and cartography, all of which will play into the week’s “quest.”

The main adventure each Thursday has actors playing the roles of minor gods or monsters, guiding or obstructing campers as they complete their missions throughout the park.

Each quest is based on Greek mythology stories — campers may need to help Hercules with his 12 labors or retrieve a relic Hera has stolen from a cabin.

“The goal is to teach them to love these stories and they end up coming out and having pride for their cabin and knowing more about them,” Ling said. “The quests are just getting bigger and better.”

At last year’s camp, kids had to crawl through a makeshift tunnel with a cardboard dragon’s mouth, into a small pool of Jell-O “dragon guts,” Ling explained, with the aim of finding dragon’s teeth to plant in the ground — a nod at the myth of Phoenician prince Cadmus.

The week culminates with Olympic games between the cabins.

Camp Half-Blood Brooklyn follows in the footstep of another Camp Half-Blood in Austin, Texas, launched by an independent bookstore in 2006.

Leticia Theodore-Greene, whose daughter has been attending the Prospect Park camp for the past two years, said the experience has helped her 8-year-old, Jordan, grow.

“The benefits are immeasurable,” Theodore-Greene said, adding that Jordan will return for a third year this summer.

“It’s piquing her interest in reading and Greek mythology in a way that is so vastly different than sitting in a classroom with a book. It’s bringing it to life, essentially, and that’s amazing.”