There are all sorts of camps for kids. There are band camps and scout camps, writing camps and sports camps, boot camps and religious camps. But up until recently, I had no idea there were game camps.
It’s a niche that Vivian Hua, the owner of All Fun and Games, realized after one of her friends mentioned that his kids needed a place to be during their breaks from school. Vivian owns the gaming store, based in Apex, NC, and with its impressive game library and 1,400 square feet of space, she thought she’d give the idea a try.
“Friends of mine have children in the All Year Round schools and they love to play games. He asked if it would be possible to run a camp to teach games and learn gaming etiquette,” she explains. “Teaching proper etiquette of turning taking and other acceptable behavior while playing games. Showing that all games are fun and educational, that no matter what kind of game you are playing, you can always learn something from it.”
So the Game Camp was started.For $125, parents can enroll their kids for a week. There are options for full and half days. The kids who attend range in age from 6 to 14. “Surprisingly enough, if in the right atmosphere, their attention spans are much longer than I initially anticipated,” says Vivian.
“We have rough outlines of different game types that we will focus on each day, with open playing giving kids a chance to choose what they want to play. An example week will be group or party games on Monday, classic games like chess or dominoes on Tuesday, card and dice games on Wednesday, and hobby games like Magic or Warhammer 40K or German games on Thursday. Then, on Friday, it’s free-for-all.”
I asked Vivian how she kept the kids interested in the games. “We have a prize point system that encourages playing games to earn fun prizes out of our treasure box,” she explains. “We generally have a circuit of 4 to 6 different games being played at any time, plus puzzles and mindteasers in case kids don’t feel like participating.”
What about the parents? “They’re surprised at how much the kids love playing games,” Vivian says. “They’ll teach the parent how to play. The parents just can’t believe their kids can have the attention spans for some of the longer playing games.”
I’m hoping this is an idea that catches on at other local game stores across the country. It’s another added bonus that brick and mortar stores can offer over their online competitors, and it’s a great excuse for kids who might otherwise be socially isolated in their hobby to meet other children with similar interests. I was lonely and miserable at Boy Scout Camp as a kid, but I would’ve thrived doing something like this.
Does a classic day camp with beading, wallet-making and watersports trump a game camp? Where do you think your kids would choose to go? Leave a comment!