Category Archives: Special Events

Let us set you up on a Blind Date – With a Book!

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It’s back! Time for Grey Havens Group Inc’s signature fundraiser – Blind Date with a Book. Last November, you gobbled up lots of good books for Grey Havens, but we’ve still got plenty more, and we love to share the joys of reading. Won’t you join us?

On Saturday, February 11th from 11 am – 4pm, come to Lucky’s Market in Longmont and choose a book (or two or three) to take home with you. Books are sorted by genre then wrapped in a Lucky’s bag to disguise their titles. In exchange for a donation in any amount, you can take home a reading surprise, just in time for Valentines Day!

All donations will be used to promote literacy, imagination, community and inclusion by supporting The Grey Havens Group, Inc. We hope you know by now that our nonprofit values creative and critical thinking and teaches philosophical inquiry. Grey Havens YA is our young adult chapter, but we also serve younger children, adults, and older adults all along the front range and beyond.

Right now, we are working on implementing our Philosophy in Public Spaces Initiative, increasing our young adult and kids programming, recruiting volunteers, and planning exciting new events for the community. We are also developing a podcast in order to share the benefits of Geek Philosophy with the world! This Saturday, you could help us to achieve these goals and enjoy a fabulous literary date in the process. We hope to see you there. Thank you for your support!

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May the Force be with you,
Kelly Cowling, Executive Director
Robyn Bosica, Deputy Director
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Fandoms and Fitness

Here at Grey Havens YA, we’ve perfected our signature Fandoms Unite presentations. What started out as a simple trivia night to recruit book discussion members has turned into a wide range of community-building, confidence-boosting programs. These include a plethora of general trivia, captions, and videos along with more specialized programming like cosplay and theater, always with an emphasis on the fandoms we and our young adults love.

One such program that came out of our desire to provide new and exciting fandom activities is something we named Fitness for Nerds, though Fandom Fitness is also an accurate title. At Fitness for Nerds, we put our Fandom love into high energy movements and get to have a blast playing around with a “work-out” theme. It’s great to get moving, and it’s always hilarious!

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We start off with some stretches, including stretching up and down as we shout out fandom moments that make us happy (a new Harry Potter movie is coming out!) or sad (Doctor Who is on hiatus until 2017!). After stretching, we jump into all sorts of movements as we copy our favorite characters in still, gif, or video form.

One of our favorites is “Dance Like Baby Groot” from the end of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. We just follow along with the video as Groot dances to “I Want You Back,” and everyone has a fantastic time. I love when I can look completely ridiculous but not feel embarrassed at all about it because everyone else is having fun looking just as ridiculous as I am– that is the power of Fitness for Nerds!

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This summer, we turned our small presentation into a two-hour long program complete with “Moisturize Me” breaks and dance music. And let me tell you, it’s quite a work out! Who Knew you could geek out and exercise all at the same time? This year’s Summer Reading theme is Fitness, and libraries across the nation are working hard on providing programming that fits the theme. We’re excited to get to help out a few local libraries here because Fitness for Nerds is fantastic, and we know all the librarians love it. Keep reading to find out where you can join us next!

In addition to fun dance moves, we’ve also developed a great Fandom Yoga sequence to slow things down a bit. Moves include, but are not limited to, the AT-AT Walker, the Hungarian Horntail, Kylo Ren Face Yoga, and the Superman. Some are based in actual yoga moves and others are just plain silly.  wp-1468200413463.jpg

I don’t want to tell you everything, because part of the fun is the surprise of waiting to see what crazy move we’re going to do next! The next chance to catch Fitness for Nerds is THIS Saturday from 2pm – 4pm at Carbon Valley Regional Library in Firestone, CO. It’s FREE, and open to grades 3-12, though we welcome family members to stick around if they are so inclined (and courageous!). Please be sure to register here so the library knows how many people to expect. Dress comfortably, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself and have a great time!

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If you’re interested in bringing Fitness for Nerds to your library or community, please Phone the TARDIS to contact us. It’s always hectic here at Grey Havens, Inc, but we love bringing nerds together and it’d be great to connect with you! (If you’re interested in helping us make things a little less hectic for our volunteer staff, please check out our support page.)

Send us an owl: Have you been to Fitness for Nerds? What’s your favorite move? 

This Summer, #BoldlyThink

We hope you all enjoyed last week’s post about deciding what to do with the time given to us. Apart from that, you’ll notice that this blog has been quite silently lately. That’s because in addition to recovering from celebrating six of our graduates, we’ve been gearing up for a very geeky summer.

Hopefully you know that as of this year, Grey Havens YA incorporated with The Grey Havens Group, Inc to become an official, tax-exempt nonprofit organization. We are working on taking all the steps necessary to reflect that change, and that means website links won’t always redirect properly and blog ideas will sit in the queue while we gather summer camp supplies and prepare training materials and paperwork. We thank you so much for your support and patience during all this.

Here at Grey Havens YA and The Grey Havens Group, Inc, we are super enthusiastic about a technique we like to call “Geek Philosophy.” If you search that term on our website, you will find countless posts about it. It’s something we’ve been doing with our young adults for almost three years, and we also implement this technique with our adult groups and in our intergenerational programming. Creating an environment where people of all ages can discuss philosophy and literature openly and equally is so central to who we are as an organization.

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Questions generated at our last Geek Philosophy Film Screening

In that respect, we hope that you will join us for our next Geek Philosophy event This Friday, July 8th from 6pm to 9pm at Carbon Valley Regional Library. We’ll be watching Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and using it as a jumping off point for a very geeky philosophy discussion. No registration necessary, just show up with all your friends and enjoy the popcorn! This event is open to all ages. On social media, we like to use the hashtag #BoldlyThink.Geek_Philosophy_Voyage_SM

Bonus! We’ll be doing it again with Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country on August 12th! Same time, same place. We hope your summer will be full of brave philosophical exploration and adventure!

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Now send us an owl: What’s your favorite Star Trek movie and how does it help you to #boldlythink?

See you at Panera! P.S. You’re awesome.

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A couple of posts ago, we talked about Bags for Change, a fundraising program at Lucky’s Market Longmont from April through June. We are dedicating the funds raised through this program to help out Grey Havens YA because Lucky’s has asked us to designate a specific Grey Havens Group, Inc project. In our post, we explained why books are so important to us and how having a consistent book fund would really help us out and benefit our members for the rest of their lives.

However, I want you to know that when you support Grey Havens YA through Bags for Change, monthly donations, or our April 25th Panera Fundraiser (keep reading for more info), you are doing so much more than just buying books for us. Books are necessary and important, and they are also quantifiable and tangible. It’s easy for us to talk about them because we can tell you exactly how much money buys exactly how many books that go to exactly how many eager young adults. What is harder to explain is how your support has allowed us literally to keep existing, which benefits not only our core members but the whole community at large.

For the past two years, we have run this organization successfully on borrowed time, in borrowed space, using borrowed equipment. We have no paid staff, no space to call our own, and two seriously aging laptops. And yet — and yet, your support has helped us to finally become an incorporated 501(c)3 NonProfit Organization. Together with The Grey Havens Group, Inc, we have provided quality programming and enriching discussion for children, teens, adults, and older adults all along the Front Range. We really mean it when we say we value literacy, imagination, community, and inclusion. We cannot thank you enough for your support in all of this!

On April 25th, Panera in Longmont is offering a super easy way for you to continue to help us. Simply stop by on Monday between 4:00pm and 8:00pm and present this flyer in print when ordering for dine-in, carry-out, or buying a gift card and 15% of your purchase will benefit The Grey Havens Group, Inc. If you have trouble printing the flyer, please contact us or look for us at Panera and we will be able to give you one. You can also join our Facebook Event Announcement to let us know you’re coming. We can’t wait to see you there for a night of yummy food and inspirational fellowship. As they say in the Grey Havens adult Tolkien branch, a star shines on the hour of our meeting.

Grey Havens Fundriser Flyer

Send us an owl: Why do you choose to support The Grey Havens Group, Inc and it’s young adult and family branch, Grey Havens YA?
P.S. What are you going to order at Panera???

The Right to Free Imagination

Círdan’s Note: Grey Havens YA just finished discussing our fourth book, Epic by Conor Kostick. Robyn, our co-director, also recently finished an old book she acquired at Readcon: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. She wanted to share these thoughts with you.

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Here at Grey Havens YA, we place tremendous value on the imagination. We often say, “Nothing was ever made by human hands or realized in the intellect that was not first conceived of in the imagination,” and you can read more about that on our about page.

Dr. Azar Nafisi writes of the importance of imagination and literature in her memoir:
“I have this recurring fantasy that one more article has been added to the Bill of Rights: the right to free access to imagination. I have come to believe that genuine democracy cannot exist without the freedom to imagine and the right to use imaginative works without any restrictions. To have a whole life, one must have the possibility of publicly shaping and expressing private worlds, dreams, thoughts and desires, of constantly having access to a dialogue between the public and private worlds. How else do we know that we existed, felt, desired, hated, feared?

“We speak of facts, yet facts exist only partially to us if they are not repeated and re-created through emotions, thoughts and feelings. To me it seemed as if we had not really existed, or only have existed, because we could not imaginatively realize ourselves and communicate to the world, because we had used works of imagination to serve as handmaidens to some political ploy.”

This passage made me think both of the world in Epic and the world of Grey Haven YA. The characters of Epic play a game, a game that is not played or explored for pleasure, but rather studied and completed for the sake of government. The game is the government, it’s how those in power control the people. At the end of the novel, we glimpse a possibility for a new way of government, and we talked about this in depth at our last meeting.

We talked about how the powerful in Epic seek to control the universities, and Kelly and I mentioned the idea that if you control the universities, you control the knowledge, the culture of the people. Nafisi faced this in real life in Tehran where she tried to teach literature for its own sake and not the government’s.

Even when learning about literature in the United States, one still has to fight for the beauty of it over the end result of a test score. A few of our members have told us that they don’t mind if we read books in the group that they’ve already studied in school because at Grey Havens YA, “We get to talk about the book a lot more and go deeper than we ever did in class.” It is a joy to see our YA members express their love for stories and to get to see them embrace imagination.

I don’t at all mean to downplay the horrors of the real government that Nafisi and her students faced in Tehran. What I mean to say is that I am so grateful for the insights in her book, and I am grateful that a group like Grey Havens YA exists where imagination can be encouraged and nurtured.

Our culture right now is obsessed with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, and our young adults are caught in the tension between wanting to create but also wanting to code. Many of them want to be both artists and scientists. Isn’t it true that there could be no STEM without first imagination? And to nurture the imagination, one must first nurture the value of story. I’m so honored that we get to do that here in Grey Havens YA.

As Albert Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

If you live in the Boulder County area and would like the chance to nurture your own imagination a little more while also helping out Grey Havens YA, stop by Lucky’s Market in Longmont on Saturday, November 21st from 11am-4pm to Gobble Up a Good Book. You can donate any amount and take home a mysterious wrapped book. We hope to see you there!

Send us an owl: What are you thoughts on the value of imagination? 

Fandom Theater

For the past two years (yes, everyone — it’s birthday season!), Grey Havens YA has been leading regular “outreach” programming referred to as Fandoms Unite. We call this outreach because it’s a chance for the entire young adult community to come together without the limits of our currently closed book group. We love Fandoms Unite because we get to have fun and show everyone just how much we love it.

Each Fandoms Unite has a theme — it could be trivia, sing-a-longs, fitness for nerds, find out more on our Community Programming page. However, Co-Director Robyn’s personal favorite is what we like to call Fandom Theater. Think of it as drama club but full of fandoms.

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First, you’ll need some tongue-twisters to warm up. How about saying “Raxicalicofalipitoris” five times fast? What about Legless Lego Legolas and his Lego Lass? We also need to get in to character, so a few times shouting “KHHHHAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNN” at the top of our lungs should do the trick. We may even throw in some Nerd Yoga to center ourselves.

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Next! We need to start the acting! We hand-pick the best scenes from fandom movies and television shows and give volunteers the opportunity to bring them to life. The best part about this is that it never goes according to plan and it’s always hilarious. Our participants surprise us by playing trees, tv screens, and radios. We even had one volunteer stand perfectly still as Han Solo frozen in carbonite for the first scene of Return of the Jedi!

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Another fun aspect of Fandom Theater is the improv – we alternate between scripted scenes and fandom improv. Participants pick characters, a place, and a problem out of a hat and see where the action takes them! Can you imagine Sherlock, Ron Weasley, and Sauron solving a crime in Narnia? What about Darth Vader, Elsa, and Katnis at Hogwarts fighting off a Dalek invasion? Fanom improv is the best! Sometimes, we’ll even send extra characters in to help the scene a long — “Sam and Dean Winchester, go save them with the Impala!”

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Now, while our improvisors are getting ready with costumes and props, we have to keep the rest of the audience entertained. The “Nerd Circle” is an exercise developed spontaneously because we happened to have a hula hoop and a rubber ball in our props bag. All we needed to add was nerdiness and we have plenty of that! To play, just drop the hoop on the ground and gather in a circle around it. The person with the ball tosses it to someone else who then has to jump inside the circle and do something nerdy. We get lots of quotes, impressions, songs, interesting facts, (polite) hand gestures and more. If you can’t think of something, you can skip your turn by passing the ball to someone else. It is not about being the last nerd standing but about being as nerdy as you can in a circle of people who think being nerd is something to show off!

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Fandom Theater is so much fun! And we here at Grey Havens YA are pleased to announce that we are bringing this fantastic event to the Lafayette Public Library on Saturday, October 24th from 6pm to 8pm! If you are in grades 6-12, sign up today on the library’s website!

Okay, I just can’t resist adding some more photos form our awesome volunteer photographer, Donna Clement!

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Send us an owl: What awesome scene from your favorite Fandom are you just itching to act out?

Notes from an Extremely Geeky Week: Geek Fair and READCON 2015!

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Who shot first?

At the end of every Grey Havens YA meeting, we share what we call Fandom Moments, telling each other of the geeky and nerdy things that happened to us during the week. Over time, we have come to realize that our lives are replete with Fandom Moments but some weeks are even geekier than others. There is, for example, the time we went to Denver Comic Con and the time we spent a week LARPing Harry Potter for young witches and wizards beginning their magical educations. The week of Sunday, September 20 through Saturday, September 26 is right up there with the geekiest of our geeky weeks. What a time we had!

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It all started with Geek Fair, part of the Longmont Museum’s Cultural Resources Fair. Geeky artists and organizations came together from all over the Front Range to help us honor our community’s teachers with a show of geeky solidarity!

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The programming began with a panel of Geeky Educators, featuring two teachers, the leader of the Longmont Public Library’s Animé Club and a parent-child psychologist. They shared how fandom culture enriches their lives and work, helping them to relate to and inspire youth and their families. One educator spoke of the desire to dispel the stigma around intelligence and curiosity. Another told us that she tries every day to remind her students of the Doctor’s words, “In 900 years of time and space, I have never met anyone who wasn’t important.” It is pretty clear why we ❤ ❤ geeky teachers. The conversation continues in our Geeky Teachers group on Facebook!

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The panel was moderated by Grey Havens YA members who talked about what their geeky teachers mean to them. 

After the inspiring panel, we danced!! We also sang fandom-themed songs, had a captions contest and answered some challenging fandom trivia questions. This was our first time presenting the full Fandoms Unite program for an all-ages crowd. We didn’t want it to end. It simply does not get any better than seeing members of the Society for Creative Anachronism dancing like Baby Groot in full medieval garb!

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While all this was happening, guests browsed tables hosted by local cultural organizations. The geeks were well-represented, including the Cerar Clan of the Mandalorian Mercs, The Barony of Caer Galen, the organizers of Myths and Legends Con as well as geeky artists, podcasters and entrepreneurs.

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By the end of the day, we had bonded in that way that geeks so easily bond, through shared enthusiasm and a love of the imagination. We rounded out the day with a kind of geek summit meeting, bringing together representatives from our guest organizations to share their geeky dreams. That conversation continues in our new Geeky Leaders of Colorado group on Facebook. Until we meet again, geeks of the Front Range, stay shiny and may the Force be with you!

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What do you want to do tonight? The same thing we do every night–try to take over the world (or just make it a little geekier)!

The Longmont Museum is a perfect partner for Grey Havens YA. The building is beautiful, flooded with light with plenty of space to play, including the highly interactive Robots Rising exhibition that continues through January. They are a local haven for imagination and creativity so, when it comes to geeks, of course they just get us!

You would think that Geek Fair would be enough geekiness for one week but it didn’t stop there! Just six days later Grey Havens YA was at READCON 2015 at the Carbon Valley Regional Library in Firestone. You can imagine our relief when we we were assured that all the libraries in the High Plains District are Vashta Nerada free!

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We stayed out of the shadows, just in case. 

We were proud to be part of the official READCON 2015 launch by helping to host the pre-READCON breakfast at The Brew at Dejalu Books. It’s such a great place for coffee, crepes, and books! Our members came in cosplay to greet guests, talk about books and draw free pictures for anyone who wanted a little fandom inspiration to take home. The walls were decorated with the works of Grey Havens YA artists and the atmosphere was thick with our particular brand of enthusiasm.

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A few butterbeers and a hearty Second Breakfast gave us the fuel we needed for more fun!

After breakfast, we headed over to the library. We were greeted, not only by library staff, but by a familiar blue box. We knew we were in the right place!

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Arriving at READCON 2015 in style. Allons-y!

Our members served as official judges of the genre book display competition and designed their own libraries using Minecraft. There were things to do and see all over the library, even outside, but, if you were looking for Grey Havens YA’s directors, chances are you would find them inside the incredibly clever “What Would the Doctor Read?” interactive display.

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So much to do and see at READCON!

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What WOULD the Doctor read? He would ask Grey Havens YA for book recommendations!

Just being at READCON was a joy for us but we were also thrilled to present a panel about our favorite books. Grey Havens YA members talked with insight and humor about all of their most beloved young adult fiction. The audience was very engaged and, after the panel, they could check out the books for themselves from the beautiful Grey Havens YA book display!

reacon displayreadcon audienceWe had a great audience!

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We tried to take a serious picture. We really did…

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… but it just didn’t work out that way!

We are tremendously grateful to Carbon Valley Regional Library for inviting us to be part of READCON 2015 at their warm and welcoming library. We can’t wait to return with more Grey Havens YA programming! This week, we will be returning to our regularly scheduled book discussions but our imaginations will linger a while longer at Geek Fair and READCON!

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Best accidental photobomb ever! The expression on the face of the kid in the corner sums up our feelings about our amazing geeky week. We can’t wait for next year! Good thing we have a TARDIS!

Click here for a full slideshow of photos from READCON 2015. More from Geek Fair and READCON 2015 – including videos – coming soon! Make sure to like our Facebook page for daily updates and more photo fun!

Send us an owl: Did you attend Geek Fair or READCON 2015? Did you have as much fun as we did?

One of the Best Weeks of Maddie’s Life, Brought to You by Grey Havens YA!

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Take a look at this recent article in The Longmont Times-Call about our recent magical summer camp! Here is some more of the feedback our young adults received on the magical camping experience they created:

“My son participated in the Hogwarts Preparatory Academy, and I wanted to inform you of how impressed I was. Right from the beginning I knew it was going to be a completely magical time for him. That magic stayed throughout the whole week. He had a wonderful time, and he still is talking about it.”  -Stacie F.

“My daughter was looking forward to her Hogwarts camp for months and I’m happy to say she thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve loved listening to her talk about all the activities (and then showing the rest of us spells, potions, palming reading, etc). Thank you for such a fabulous experience, it completely exceeded my expectations!!” -Muggle Mom

“I think this was one of the best camps either of my kids have yet attended. Your creativity and attention to detail just made it so fun and magical! [My daughter] loved it! It was great! She says to continue doing everything! She also says, ‘I think you should remember to clean out your cauldron next time.'” -Angela J.

Yes! Next time we WILL remember to clean out our cauldron!

And that’s not all! One of our assistant professors, 145Barbarian, put this video together to showcase the camp. Check it out, and journey to Hogwarts Preparatory Academy for yourself:
“Hey everyone! I am happy to present a video I made for Hogwarts Preparatory Academy. Though the pictures might not be the best quality, I’m proud of the video.”

For more information about Grey Havens YA programming, including at the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center, visit our Community Programming page.

Grey Havens YA has been invited back to host Hogwarts Prep next year. Some students want to sign up now! The problem is that we don’t know that our group will be ready by the summer of 2016 to repeat and improve upon this very detailed, labor-intensive camp. Can you help us to create the time and resources to meet demand? Thank you for helping us to make magic!

Potter-Mania and Summer Mayhem!

Grey Havens YA has been very busy lately! This coming week, we will be leading 41 of Longmont’s 8 to 11-year-olds through Hogwarts Preparatory Academy, a camp at the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center. Stay tuned to this site and our Facebook page for more updates and photos along the way!teacherbinderhogwar This site may seem quiet, but we are having quite a whirlwind of a summer! Not only are we working on a Harry Potter Summer Camp, but we also hosted a Cosplay Workshop at the Lafayette Library on July 1st. We’ve got lots of photos to share with you and hopefully an Animoto from the Library coming soon. It was a blast, and we can’t wait to go back there on Saturday, August 1 from 6pm to 8pm to celebrate their summer reading program finale via trivia, captions, and sing-a-long nerd songs. This event is free and open to anyone in grades 6 through 12, so please call the library (303-665-5200 x1175) to register!

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Thank you for your continuing support. Grey Havens YA is in the process this summer of coming together with our parent group, The Grey Havens Group, to incorporate and become a 501(c)3 nonprofit. For more on that process, check out the Grey Havens site and our meeting minutes.

In the midst of planning events and attending board meetings, Grey Havens YA members are still passionate about book discussions. We just started a new book, Epic by Conor Kostick. Have you read it? This is our first time studying a book that doesn’t already have a lot of scholarship behind it. We are entering uncharted territory, and we can tell already that it’s going to be a fascinating (or rather- epic) journey.epiccover

Whew! Plus, we’ve already had a pretty amazing story come out of our summer camp, and it hasn’t even started yet. See this Facebook post from Co-Headmistress Kelly:

“You won’t believe the amazing thing that happened today! Kelly, Grey Havens YA’s co-director, stopped in at the PostalAnnex Longmont to have the contract for our Hogwarts summer camp notarized (because even binding magical contracts need to be notarized). Not only was the service exceptional but it turns out that these folks are makers of fine American wands, with detailed information about wood types, cores and suitability for different kinds of magic. They even loaned us a whole collection so that our campers can try out various wands. These are exceptionally fine and affordable wands, folks. After the summer camp, they will be back at the Postal Annex and available for purchase for the extremely reasonable price of between $25 and $40 with wooden display box. For witches and wizards, that is around 6 to 9 galleons if you round up. What a deal!”

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With all that’s going on, we think it might be a while before we can officially say, “Mischief managed.” However, we solemnly swear that we are up to no good… Will you join us?

Send us an owl: If you could go to a “summer camp” of your choosing based on your favorite fandom, what would you pick? What would it look like?
P.S. Have you liked us on Facebook yet?

When Fandoms Collide: The Quest for the Mithril Coat

At the Grey Havens Symposium titled Real Myth and Mithril 2015, Grey Havens YA performed their latest fandom skit. Named “When Fandoms Collide: The quest for the Mithril Coat,” this skit combines some of our favorite characters in a plot so delightful that it perfectly compliments its predecessor “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, When Fandoms Unexpectedly Collide.” Our members devised the plot and wrote this themselves, including the incredible puns at the end. Watch the skit here, and, if you’d like to read the full transcript, see more below the video! #ThisIsWhatANerdLooksLike

Continue reading When Fandoms Collide: The Quest for the Mithril Coat