MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
With imaginations inspired by fable stories, Hobbit-sized architects carved and molded beach sand into majestic castles that any king would love to live in. The castles were built so fast it seemed as if their creators possessed magical tools to aid in the construction. But these were normal kids driven by nothing more but the chance to have fun.
Children under the age of 12 gathered with their parents and guardians at Onslow Beach to participate in the Summer Reading Program’s sandcastle building competition hosted by the Harriote B. Smith Library aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, July 26.
Children lined-up to log the numbers of hours they have read and claim prizes such as foam dragon claws, beach balls, shirts and lunch bags for completing reading goals. More than 67 SRP participants attended the event.
“This is our third time we’ve done a sandcastle building event, but this is by far the best one we’ve had,” said Fran Bing, a youth services technician with Lifelong Learning Branch, Marine and Family Services Division, at the base library.
The event kicked with a show-and-tell program to educate the kids about the wildlife that inhabit the beach.
“The (presentation) helps the kids know that there’s a lot more to the beach than just the sand and the water,” Ruth Gooch, a reservations assistant with Onslow Beach Recreation Center, Marine Corps Community Services.
Gooch talked about the endangered species living on Onslow Beach and gave tips on how people can help to protect and preserve animals such as the green sea turtle. She also brought along things such as sea shells and 25 million year-old fossils, which she collected from the beach and shown to the kids.
“I love that the kids asked me questions and showed their interest,” said Gooch. “Sometimes the kids become interested enough that they come out and hunt for shells of their own.”
Even the adults who attended the event learned a thing or two from Gooch.
“I think it’s great that they teach the kids to care for the beach,” said Betsy Koziol, a military family member. “I learned a few things myself. I never knew we had so much wildlife living on our beaches.”
At the end of the program the children gathered around the table to touch, hold and ask questions about everything Gooch presented.
After the presentation, the children grabbed their buckets and shovels headed to the beach to begin constructing their castles. A colorful assortment of plastic tools were scattered along the beach around areas where mounds and holes were being made. When the kids grew tired of playing in the sand they took a break to play in the water.
“It gets everyone out of the library and it’s nice to be outside enjoying the nice weather,” said Bing. “Where else can you find such a peaceful and exclusive beach?”
The kids were given about 45 minutes to complete their crafting. As the sands of time ran low, the masons rushed to apply their finishing touch right before judging started. There were castles with moats and draw-bridges, and some were even decorated with shells. All were unique in their own way, but some more than others.
Military children Caleb and Amethyst Burton, and Porsche and Tyler Hare helped each other build what looked like a castle and a town to go with and took first place in the competition. Military children, James, Peter and Philip Shippy, took second place with dual castles and third place went to Tabitha Gray, a military child, who created a castle and dragon. Each of the winners then picked out kites for the grand prize.
“They all had a ball,” said Bing. “Even if you are not a beach person you can still have a good time. Hanging out at the beach is great and it’s a lot cheaper than taking the family on a jet ski ride.”
The library offers many free events so that everyone can afford to have fun.
“This is actually the first time we’ve participated in the Summer Reading Program and I have managed to get them to read every day without a hassle,” said Alicia Hare, a military spouse. “With all the fun events, there’s always something to motivate them.”
The library’s goal, through the SRP, is to get children, as well as adults to read more.
“Children lose a lot of what they learn during the school year over the summer,” said Bing. “The summer reading program helps to keep their brains in shape. You know what say… if you don’t use it… you lose it.”
For more information on the main library’s events, visit www.mccslejeune.com/libraries or call 451-3026.