Between the Pages is an Austin-based nonprofit whose mission is to foster imaginative thinking in children by creating immersive interactive experiences inspired by popular children’s chapter books. It began in 2006 with Topher Bradfield’s vision to transform the Rick Riordan book series Percy Jackson and the Olympians into a real-life summer camp. Summer after summer, young “demigods” train in archery and sword fighting, are routinely visited by deities and other characters featured in the world of the Rick Riordan Presents series, and go on daring quests to save the camp through the wooded landscape of McKinney Falls State Park. The camp encourages outside play, revels in silliness, challenges the imagination, and embraces individuals as their authentic selves.
As the enrollment in the summer sessions grew, it became increasingly important to camp director Topher Bradfield to make the experience more widely available to children in the Austin community, especially kids in underserved communities. As a step toward this goal, Camp Half-Blood stopped functioning as a for-profit summer camp and was re-established as part of the Between the Pages nonprofit. Currently, programming not only includes the familiar Camp Half-Blood experience but also brings the immersive literary-fueled experience to Austin school campuses with a program called The Narrative Thread Project. The books chosen for this program center around diverse sets of characters that equitably represent the Austin community as a whole. The Narrative Thread Project effectively creates a fictitious setting in which new and avid readers can together practice real-life creative problem solving while eliminating the pressures of making a mistake. The programs are fun, challenging, encourage imaginative thinking, and foster a lifelong love of reading.
Most recently, the hardworking staff of Between the Pages designed a virtual translation of the Camp Half-Blood experience that widens the availability to even more children that might not otherwise enroll in a traditional summer camp. There are now digital quests available, and a special new online Halloween adventure is in the works for October 30th! Tickets for the virtual Halloween Quest are available now and all proceeds go toward supporting The Narrative Thread Project. Tickets available at Camphalfbloodaustin.org/Halloween.
To learn more about Between the Pages, Camp Half-Blood (physical and virtual), The Narrative Thread Project, and how to become a supporter, visit their website at between-the-pages.org.
Shock the Vote asked Between the Pages a series of Shocking questions. This is what they had to say:
What does your organization do?
We empower children to become the hero of their own story by engaging them in creative play, using books that are vibrant expressions of our diverse community. We have seen that sharing this immersive experience leaves them feeling empowered and wanting to read more, while building a community of confidence, creativity and – above all – kindness.
Why do you love Austin?
Austin is a town of quirky creatives, brainiacs and passionate do-gooders. It's all about the people, establishing relationships and listening to their stories, spoken aloud, read in books, consumed in meals, the items they create, and expressed through music.
Why do you vote?
Voting is an ultimate expression of mass cooperation.
Who is one of your favorite Austin entertainment groups?
-Street Forge Armoury: An amazing Black-owned business that creates training swords and forged weapons for all of your martial arts training and monster-slaying needs! Check these folks out.
-Emma Dean: Singer/songwriter/guitar instructor extraordinaire. Watch out for those amazing fingerpicking skills and her storytelling through song.
Who is your favorite Austin business or restaurant?
-BookPeople: The best Independent bookstore in Texas. They love the Austin community and we love them!
-Natureversity: Connecting children and adults with nature! Their nature based curriculum is outstanding and accessible.
Who's your favorite nonprofit organization in Austin, aside from the one you represent? -Bat City Comics. Not only a killer comic book store, but a comic book store that uses proceeds from the sales of those comics to fund literacy programs in Austin! What's your favorite Halloween treat?
-The treats taken from your sibling(s)
—Bailey Moore, Shock the Vote ATX Staff Writer