Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: The Junior Gamers Club

At some point I lost my mind and became very motivated to start a summer gamers group based on age to try to help expose more children to tabletop gaming.

I love working with our local game shop. I always hear about the kids I know going up for Pokemon or Magic, but so many don't go up to play games. Sometimes, too, I wonder how many young people are engaging in more "adult" games than maybe something they might really enjoy. While not a bad thing, sometimes I think it can make the hobby feel a little frustrating.

The other piece I wanted to work on, which I fully promote in my Middle School Tabletop Game club is kids teaching kids. I wanted to provide the opportunity for kids to share games they like with each other while also being exposed to the variety of game available to them. Instead of an adult hovering and running the game, I want the kids to have the opportunity to take charge of their own learning and sharing.

I broke the group into two age ranges. 5-9 and 10-14. I didn't want to get too much into high school, because I wanted to focus on the younger ages. My husband and I are going to be present to help the kids work through the games and, in some instances, help teach or guide them through the initial game while they work together to problem solve what they struggle with. It feels like an experiment, but I am glad to try it.

To add an extra incentive, I've created a stamp card for the participants. As they play, they earn achievement pins for games played: 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 20. (See a trend?)

I also made game master badges with lanyards for the achievements. The sadness, though, is that it costs $5 to be able to participate in that part of the program. Playing is completely free, but joining the Explorers (5-9) or Trailblazers (10-14) for achievements is $5. It doesn't even cover the full cost of paper, ink, lanyards, and pins, but it helps a little bit.

The Junior Gamers Club starts on Monday and I'm so nervous. My husband keeps reminding me it's just playing games with kids, but you know how parents can get. Then there's attendance. I'm so nervous. I also need to make a list of rules for behaviors and I dropped the ball on that one to have it ready for our first Explorers meeting. I'll definitely have it done by Wednesday.

I thought it would be a great summer addition to really help promote gaming beyond just some of the basics we already keep in our homes. I'm going to be posting updates throughout the summer address what seems to be working and what isn't.

Here we go!

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