It's an annual tradition for the York County Libraries and the Healthy York County Coalition's Get Outdoors York task force: A summer program that gives kids a little extra to do over summer vacation - something that gets them outside and keeps them reading, even when their thoughts are a million miles away from school.
This year's must-have accessory is the Star Guide, a roadmap to hours of fun for any kid. The guide, which you can pick up beginning June 1, offers clues to secret letterboxing observation points hidden throughout York County's park system. The observation points are birdhouse-sized objects containing special emblems participants use to create impressions in their Star Guide. The more impressions kids make in their guides, the more chances they have to win a grand prize that includes an Xbox Kinect gaming system.
"We like the letterboxing program because you get them out there moving and it keeps them healthy," said Deb Sullivan of the York County Libraries.
But that's just the part of the program put together by GO York.
On the library side, kids are urged to log 800 minutes reading through the summer. Those who reach the 800-minute mark are entered to win a massive prize package that includes tickets to sporting events, the Pennsylvania Renaissance Fair, Regal Cinemas and more.
Beyond the prize-winning possibilities, the Star Guide features a list of related events at every York County library and best bets for programs at York County Parks.
Registration for the summer program, called "Dream Big Read! GO and Search the Galaxy," begins Friday, June 1, at all of York County's libraries and at yorklibraries.org.
Things really get going with a kick-off event Saturday, June 2, at Sovereign Bank Stadium. The event goes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes performances, face painting and program signups for kids up to age 18. Kids can even learn the best way to get impressions off the observation posts.
Coinciding with the summer program, the Junior Dispatch is hosting a creative writing contest. We've taken the "Search the Galaxy" theme to heart, and want kids to write a story about aliens from outer space. Top winners will earn $100 in gift certificates. Entries for that are due by Aug. 1. Visit juniordispatch.com for more details on the competition.
Weekend Junior is a collaborative effort of York Weekend and Junior Dispatch to highlight entertainment options especially for children. Want to suggest a topic? Contact York Weekend editor Mel Barber at 854-1575, ext. 458, or firstname.lastname@example.org or Junior Dispatch editor John Simcoe at 505-5457 or email@example.com.