Published on September 28th, 2015 | by Heather Botelho
How-To Host a Fandom Program
The teens at my library – and probably yours, too – are seriously into their fandoms. Anything and everything is up for ‘shipping, fanfic and fan art, and general squeeing when something big happens. A little over a year ago, the teens in my library’s Teen Advisory Group started planning a monthly fandom program called Random Fandom (feel free to steal the name; we did). We brainstormed a list of fandoms that we thought would be a big draw, and most of the time, the fandom we’ve chosen each month from that list has been truly random. What we started finding is that while a random fandom was good, tying it to something going on that month, if possible, was even better. For example, our fandom for September was… drumroll, please… The Maze Runner!
The Anatomy of a Fandom Program
While what we do for each program changes each time, there are a few things that we’ve found are the meat and bones. Every fandom program has a trivia portion, and many of our programs also have the game Heads Up.
Like I said, these teens are seriously into their fandoms, and what better way for them to prove how much they know than to have a trivia competition? We’ve done both pub-style question-and-answer and Jeopardy-style answer-and-question, and either one works. Jeopardy-style is great for the big fandoms that might have a lot of categories, but it does take longer to play, and you’ll have to break them up into teams, so keep that in mind.
Your other option is pub-style. This is where you (or the person who created the quiz), ask the questions, and the teens write down the answers. You can have increasing difficulty with increasing point values, and they can work individually or as a team.
Two more things about trivia: First, the person who creates the quiz should be the one who knows the fandom best. Getting your questions from online sources only works if you can verify that the answer is correct. Second, whether you have prizes or not is up to you. I’ve done it both ways, and my teens are happy with just bragging rights.
The other staple of Random Fandom is Heads Up! For this, you can either use the app (99 cents to buy and another 99 cents to purchase the blank deck to customize your cards), or a sticky note on the forehead works great too. You can play Heads Up two different ways. One is to have teammates give the person with the sticky note clues as to who they are until they guess correctly. The other is to have the person with the sticky note ask yes or no questions (which was really fun during the Supernatural Random Fandom when the person asked “Am I dead?” and you had to respond with “As of which season?”) until they figure out who they are.
Everything else you do during the program will depend on what fandom you’re celebrating. We did The Maze Runner in September because The Scorch Trials movie was coming out, but because our program date fell before the movie, we stuck to the first book/movie for our activities. Of course, we couldn’t have this kind of program without having a maze.
Rather than collecting a ton of cardboard boxes (storage issues) or using tables and chairs (safety issues), we opted for creating the maze out of tape on the floor. Working in teams of two, one person was tasked with going through the maze blindfolded while their teammate gave them silent directions using pressure on their left or right arm. Stars at random points signified a booby trap that sent the players back to the start of the maze, and of course the Grievers introduced randomly into the maze would drive players straight into a trap to make them start over.
We also had trivia and Heads Up, and even those who hadn’t read the book still had fun giving answers. More of them had seen the movie, so when playing Heads Up, the clues were along the lines of “hot Asian guy” for Minho and “angry eyebrows” for Gally.
The credit for the creation of the maze, the trivia questions, and Heads Up goes completely to the Teen Advisory Group. The more involved they are, the more ownership they have over the program, and the more fun they have. They’re already hard at work planning next month’s Random Fandom, Once Upon a Time!