“Design Your Own Superhero” at The National Archives Sleepover

On Saturday, February 6, 2016 I took part in a special event at the National Archives. Kids ages 8-12 along with their adult chaperones participated in several activities and spent the night next to America’s most precious treasures: the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights for a sleepover!

The children were very eager to learn and several of them arrived in superhero or historical outfits. I saw Captain America, Clara Barton, Dolly Madison, and more! Half of the participants were local from DC, Maryland, or Virginia. There were also several people coming from Pennsylvania, South Carolina, New York, and a few other states!

The sleepover had an overlapping superhero theme and I was there to lead an activity station called “Design Your Own Superhero with Carolyn Belefski.” In the same room behind a glass case were original Captain America and Batman comics.

For the activity, I created a sheet so everyone could grasp the concept as fast as possible. There were several stations and kids could choose to stay for as long as they wanted during the activities timeframe, but if they wanted to visit everything they would only have about ten minutes at each spot.

On one side of the sheet we discussed our personalities and potential shapes and accessories that could be used to create a character and their symbol. I encouraged kids and parents to make a hero character for themselves or choose a figure from history and make them into a superhero. One the other side of the page was a simple body figure guide they could use or if they wanted to go free-style, we had blank paper.

As you can see in the image above, we had a variety of heroes. I did an example for myself (in the center of the image) to show my personality: a mask to shield my identity, holding a pen to represent art, wearing the gold bracelet I always have on, boots because I like country music, my outfit resembles a western “Nudie or Manuel” design, color palette of primary colors, the “C” symbol belt for by name, etc.

As the kids (and some parents) were creating their characters I asked them about their decisions and helped to pull out inspirations for them to draw from.

After the activities, I was able to stay in the theater to watch Archives Reports featuring costumed historical personalities Elizabeth Cady Stanton, James Madison, and Sojourner Truth. The children were able to ask them questions during an active live Q&A session.

It was nice to meet some new faces, but also surprising to run into a few people who had either heard of me or met me at Small Press Expo or Baltimore Comic-Con. I also got to meet one of the Curls Kickstarter backers whom I did not know before this past weekend! A wonderful surprise!

This is a great opportunity for families who enjoy history and interactive activities. It is delightful to see the younger generation interested in the past and ready to build upon it for their foundation.