Everything starts with imagination!

Do you remember your favorite book as a child and wondering what it would be like to live in that world with those characters? 

 

At Between the Pages, we make that happen. 

 

We recreate the worlds of our kids’ favorite books. Being able to navigate real world problems from inside a fictional setting allows space for genuine problem solving and dramatically decreases fear of trying and failing. 

 

And it’s fun!

 

Between the Pages is a nonprofit that uses books as tools to immerse both at-risk and avid readers in an engaging recreation of their favorite books, fostering literacy, creative play, and cooperative problem solving in school-aged children.

 

We empower children to discover a lifelong love of reading using diverse characters and stories that equitably represent our community.

 

Between the Pages extends the success of the Camp Half Blood Austin summer program to schools with year-round programming that immerses future and avid readers side-by-side in book-based play and problem-solving.

In 2005, Rick Riordan published Percy Jackson and the Olympians to critical acclaim, and in 2006, Topher Bradfield brought it to life, growing Camp Half-Blood from 55 kids to over 1,200 campers in 2018. Campers unplug from their devices to experience sword training, archery, monster battles, music courses, spoken-word poetry, and epic quests for a week in a state park, living as “demigod” companions of Percy Jackson and his friends.

After more than a decade of sell-out summers, the team behind the summer camp founded Between the Pages to bring the transformative experience to more children—especially those who could not access the camp in its prior format. Between the Pages extends the success of the Camp Half-Blood summer program into schools with year-round programming that immerses children in book-based play and cooperative problem-solving.

OUR MISSION

We empower demigods to find their voice… 

and we stand there with them, so that they can be heard! 

 

Inspired by the power of the books to change lives, Between the Pages celebrates the diverse cultures and stories that make Austin’s community valuable and vibrant. 

 

Going into Austin’s varied schools – including at-risk Title1 communities, we take the books at the leading edge of sharing the voices of many communities with our children. 

 

From Percy Jackson to Tristen Strong to Aru Shah and more, we engage the students in an immersive experience that leaves them feeling empowered and wanting to read more!

OUR VISION

No Demigod Left Behind!

Using books as tools to immerse at-risk and avid readers in an engaging recreation of their favorite books, we work to inspire and nurture our reader’s voices. Fostering literacy using creative play, and cooperative problem solving, what emerges is an engaging community of confidence, creativity and above all, kindness.

Our Story

Wouldn’t it be cool if Camp Half Blood was a real place?

In 2006, a group of kids gathered at our local bookstore on Friday nights. In pajamas, they would stay past closing to listen to Topher Bradfield read Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief aloud. Through his performances, the book felt alive. It’s not surprising that they found themselves asking,

 

Wouldn’t it be cool if Camp Half Blood was a real place?

 

With a personal loan, support from the bookstore, and 52 kids, Camp Half Blood came to life in Zilker Park in June, 2006.

 

Then, letters started arriving. 

 

Parents wrote: [My kids loved this!]

Teachers wrote: [My reluctant readers are talking about this!]

Librarians wrote: [My library is full of buzz about this!]

And most importantly, kids wrote: [This is the best thing ever!]

 

In 2007, Camp Half Blood came to McKinney Falls for 3 weeks. And every year since then, it has been back. Kids wanted to come back every year. Parents were so excited that their kids loved it, that they lined up around the bookstore overnight for registration. A community was growing. 

 

Each year, more and more campers have lived the demigod life, and in 2019 we had 10 weeks of camp with almost 1000 campers. In over a decade, we’ve read, explored, and imagined with almost 5000 demigods.

 

We had created a living, breathing, visceral community simultaneously in the world of books, mythology, and Texas’ vast outdoors. We were in the woods of a state park, making meaningful connections between literature, history, science and SEL, and we were having fun. 

 

We connected with the author, and we wrote extensions of his stories to let the campers interact with heroes and villains to move the story forward. We wanted it to feel like the entire camp experience was there exclusively for them and was uniquely theirs. It worked. 

 

Camp Half Blood fit naturally into their lives. They were nourished by the stories and adventures in their minds and in the woods. 

 

Reluctant leaders became avid leaders.

 

And we knew that this was also a way to get reluctant readers to become avid readers.

 

We also wanted to increase diversity and equity and realized that we needed to become a nonprofit to build a model that would promote literacy and equity, along with leadership, adventure, and outdoor skills.

 

In 2018, we piloted a school-based program in Title I elementary schools, and in 2019, we became an official nonprofit, Between the Pages.

 

Between the Pages extends the camp experience and attitude and envelops reluctant readers with enthusiasm, safety, and magic

 

With Between the Pages’ nonprofit structure, we can combine the successful earned revenue model of summer camp with the bigger mission of literacy, equity, and outdoor play to support children’s emotional, social, and intellectual development. 

 

This is a big goal, but lifetimes of reading have conditioned us to dream big. In fact, we are working towards making Camp Half Blood a real place year-round in the very big Texas Hill Country.

 

Through our programs, children are presented with challenges through storytelling. They learn to come at problems from different ways, to change perspective, to find solutions. Our camp stories have intentional loose threads. The campers fixate on these—making jumps in logic and understanding, connecting their intuition, gut, and feelings into intellectual problem-solving.

 

As a new nonprofit, we are connecting our experiences, intuition, and track record to create a life-long, immersive experience to allow children to embrace and engage with themselves and their worlds—real and literary.

How We Do It

Every kid is a reader. They just need the right books. And a bit of magic.

Reading for pleasure can be elusive. At Between the Pages, we help kids find and grasp onto the value of reading for pleasure.

 

Through author visits, story-telling, and play, books can become a tool and a toy in imaginative play.

 

Creative Solutions

 

Someone had to imagine what it would be like to sail from Europe to what would later become North America before doing it, just as they had to imagine what it would be like to fly to the moon, or create Nano-bots to repair damage in our bodies. 

 

We envision an equitable community where creative and collaborative problem solving and emotional intelligences are valued as highly as traditional educational practices. Access to programs that enable creative play, in the classroom and during the summer months are critical. 

 

Through creative programming, we see a community of students who recognize their worth, value their voice and place in society, and understand the fundamental connectedness of what they learn in the classroom and how it enhances the best parts of themselves in our society. 

 

We value divergent thinkers and the creative arts as a crucial way forward through the educational lives of the children in our community.

 

A Safe Place to be YOU

 

Each of our voices has value to ourselves and our communities, and we make a safe space for everyone to show up as their genuine selves. At Between the Pages, we feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for each other as family, friends, and allies.

 

Our stage is everywhere

 

We are uniquely positioned to replicate the multiple types of environments in mythologies. Our McKinney Falls Camp Program combines practicing tracking, plant identification, outdoor survival, medicinal plants with swords, bow and arrows, gladiatorial combat, and puzzles, so environmental stewardship is front and center.

 

Books are complex – Life is complex

 

We foster intellectual rigor infused with curiosity and creativity through problem-solving at Camp and in the classroom to prepare kids for real life.

 

‘Play is the work of childhood.’ –Piaget 

 

We create a sense of play within literacy and life. We are not scared of being silly or ridiculous. We are the kind of ridiculous that has benefits. We are so grateful that kids want to come back and pretend with us every year. 

 

Strength is emotional too

 

At Between the Pages, there is no awkward self-awareness of being a nerd playing pretend, which allows kids to feel the full depth and breadth of their personae. Campers find that their quirks add to the story and diversify approaches to problem-solving, and they connect with kids with different strengths and disabilities to find each others’ strengths.

Summer Experience

We make our campers the hero of their own story to build teamwork and personal confidence thru FUN!

Camp Half-Blood Austin  is our beloved flagship program, named for the “real” place of refuge and growth in Rick Riordan’s award-winning Percy Jackson book series.

 

It has been run by our staff since 2006, when we created and partnered with a local bookstore to bring it to life. As the for-profit model wouldn’t allow for growth into communities with low income and reluctant readers, we decided it was time to take the programming into the nonprofit world with BetweenThePages.

 

We want to build a place that is simultaneously a school, a stage, and source of inspiration where children unlock their inner selves and potential.  It’s a summer camp like no other!

 

Live Action Role Play (LARP)

 

You are the hero of your own story and our heroes feel that each story is written just for them.

 

From Rick Riordan’s beloved Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus to Kane Chronicles, Magnus Chase and Rick Riordan Presents, we pull in the heroes and villains of the stories your demigod know and love and then create unique stories between the pages for live action role playing.

 

Unique story

 

Every summer is a new book in the continuing saga of Camp Half-Blood Austin. Each week is a new chapter with unique stories staged in the Rick Riordan universe. We create the stories of the demigods between the Percy Jackson stories.

 

As unique as Austin, these stories are available only in Camp Half-Blood Austin.

 

Each week’s chapter has a beginning, middle and end with a villian to overcome and then all together the weeks combine into one big saga overcoming the super-villain. So you can attend 1 week or multiple and get a new story in each!

 

Combat Training

 

With sword master, martial arts masters, archery instructors and trainers we help whip your demigod into fighting shape!

 

Counselor Led

 

With actors, stunt men, martial arts masters, hollywood quality monster makeup and special effects and more, our camp staff create the world for your demigod to save the day. Fully immersed in the story, participants of all ages forget that they’re actually learning. That’s exactly how we want it.

 

Personal Confidence

 

LARP gives our campers the space to try a new way of being in the world. Through group discovery and problem-solving, our campers grow in their personal confidence. In fact, many who are shy at the beginning later emerge as their cabin’s leader!

 

Teamwork

 

Why is this happening? How do I change this outcome? What’s my next step? No one person has the complete answer. We learn to work together to find the optimal solution.

 

Supportive Community

 

In a world of many pressures to be labeled many different ways, Camp Half-Blood Austin is a safe space where you can be YOU and finally start figuring out who you really are.

 

Organic Learning via Play

 

Studies show that we learn best through natural, organic connections. Bringing in history, science, music, art, current events, books and music, we create meaningful connections that pull it all together and foster a life-long love of learning.

School Experience

Empowering children to discover a lifelong love of reading!

Our in-school programming, called Narrative Thread, empowers children to discover a lifelong love of reading, bringing books to life through performance readings using characters and stories that equitably represent the Austin area.

 

Books Brought to Life

 

Our performance readings complete with actors and props tie into the students’ curriculum that year, helping them to become empowered to find meaningful connections between themselves and all the subjects they study. 

 

The program is relatable, immersive, and engaging. It is designed to entertain and meet the students where they are, educationally. 

 

It promotes creativity and divergent thinking by asking questions that inspire more than one correct answer with time for collaborative problem solving and discussion.

 

Free Books for Our Readers 

 

We select and donate a book that every student in the Narrative Thread program will get to keep. 

 

As the team performs the entire book, the students follow along to develop competency in reading words in a text (accuracy), reading the words in a text correctly and with less effort (automaticity), and reading with an appropriate expression and phrasing to reflect the meaning of a passage (prosody).

 

Increased Reading & Comprehension

 

Research has shown that fluent oral reading learned through performance reading leads not only to engagement in and enjoyment of reading for students, but to reading comprehension (Rasinski & Hoffman, 2003), and it is one of the goals established in the research report of the National Reading Panel (NICHD, 2000).

 

Collaborative Experience

 

We perform with the students in the program for the entire time it takes to finish the book and the relevant discussions inspired by those performance readings. The teachers then take our curriculum guide to finish connecting the book to what they are learning in class that week.

 

Celebrating Diversity

 

Each of our Narrative Thread Teams represents a different segment of our population. We are committed to each author’s work, being performed by actors from that community, to the children of that community.

 

For example, our LatinX Team performs Carlos Hernandez’s Sal and Gabby Break the Universe in our LatinX schools.  

 

Another black team performs, Kwame Mbalia’s Tristen Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, in the black community.  

 

While our founder’s mixed team performs Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief in many of our main stream schools. 

 

We lead by example, showing our children that each culture is valued and you can become a voice for your community that CAN be heard.

Year Round Outreach

Helping Demigods Become Do-Gooders all year!

Covid conditions have severely impacted our demigods’ lives and we’ve responded by instituting year-round support.

 

Online Community

 

With our private social media platform – Demigod’s Hangout – our campers are able to connect year round and support each other where it is safe – online! Now they can continually share their love of literature and art with other kids who cheer them on and understand.

 

International Reach

 

Being online has allowed us to reach far more campers than ever as our demigods have welcomed in kids who never had the opportunity to join us at Camp. 

 

Whether the demigods didn’t have the time or resources to get to Camp, now they are able to join in what had always seemed out of reach. We have demigods who were too sick to run around the park, others who could not afford the tuition or just lived too far away – like Ohio or Wales or Brazil!

 

We had no idea that going online would allow us to reach those hungering for this kind of connection and we see them sharing books and ideas and blossoming.

 

Seasonal Events

 

Starting with our first annual Halloween Event – Haunted Half-Bloods, we are bringing the magic of Halloween to our demigods so that social distancing doesn’t ruin their special days.

 

While the logistics of running Campers thru Mckinney Falls State Park in the off-season, used to mean that we could only hold Camp 1 time a year, going online allows us to bring the magic right to the campers – and at a much reduced cost of time and money.

 

From birthday parties to seasonal events, our seasonal quests are much anticipated by our demigods and we can’t wait to see what we co-create!

 

Digital Quests Promoting Authors

 

While in the past, all of our quests had happened in person at McKinney Falls State Park, social distancing gave us an opportunity to stretch our imaginations to bring the immersive magic of our unique stories to a digital format.

 

For the first time ever, we’ve created digital – choose your own path – quests!

 

It’s the Camp stories, heroes, monsters and villains our demigods have come to know and love, in a digital story book where they call the shots. 

 

Many demigods who had never heard of Camp Half-Blood Austin joined us thru our first quest – The Apple of Discord – and went on to join us in our Online Camp and seasonal events.

 

The quest has been so popular, that we’ve partnered with some of our favorite authors to write future Camp Half-Blood Austin quests for us! We can’t tell you who they are yet, but they are some of your fav Rick Riordan Presents authors and even Austin local writers!

 

We love how this new format allows us to reach even more demigods and to foster the love of reading even more authors.

Our Current Priorities

No Demigod Left Behind!

Like so many children’s programs, COVID conditions have caused us to make fast pivots to our usual model. No longer will summer camp registrations fund our annual budget for our staff and our at-risk outreach programs.

 

Our pilot program started in 2018 with two T1 schools, St. Elmo and Sanchez Elementary. We plan to add a third school for the 2020/2021 school year, likely in the Spring.

 

While there is no cost to the schools and the books are donated through Disney Publishing, there is significant cost to staffing the Narrative Thread Project.

 

We are building an expanded model with the expanded digital outreach above, to create year round fundraising and funding to support our efforts.

 

Once our digital assets and fundraisers are fully built out, they will not only subsidize Camp registrations (allowing us to charge less per Camper), they will also help fund starting a 3rd Narrative Thread team to reach more schools.

We Need Your Help!

A note from our founder, Topher Bradfield.

Our program has grown organically, driven by the true power/drive/energy/vision of children. From reading performances on Friday nights in our local bookstore to a full-fledged summer camp that sells out in a day, to a year-round program in schools throughout our community, each new development has been inspired and sought by young people. 

 

It has been my absolute pleasure to be the “grown-up” who could steward their imaginations to bring this all to life year after year. With more and more kids wanting to participate and with our returning campers wanting even deeper experiences, I am excited to champion this next phase of growth for our programs, for these children.

 

We are well into building out our expanded model, while still serving our commitments in our communities’ school, but we need your help.

 

COVID hit our non-profit hard. Many of our Campers did not make the jump to online with us this summer and a good portion of our annual income went to refunding their tuitions. We know many camps refused to make refunds, but we did not see that as the ethical or kind choice. 

 

We supported our families in their time of need – both in resources and presence. 

 

Now we need your help.

 

We still need to bridge the gap in our income this year to continue our outreach.

 

Please consider joining our team of champions supporting this pivotal next step!