Friday, August 26, 2011

On Kids and Games


I spent last weekend tucked away in the New Hampshire White Mountains eating too many s'mores and sleeping in a tent with my family. We made plans for this trip back in April along with two other families and I had been looking forward to it all summer. As the weekend approached, however, the weather started to look less than stellar. My little iPhone ap started showing clouds, and then showers, and then the dreaded thunder and lightning icon. Short of a hurricane (bullet barely dodged) we still planned on going, but with plenty of backup in case we ended up trapped in tents and campers. That backup was enough boardgames to stock a small store.

You see, all three of these families are gamer families. The dads met playing games at our local store and the moms met because of the dads and the kids are friends because of the parents. It's all about the games. If not for the games, we wouldn't have had this camping trip at all and we wouldn't have these wonderful people in our lives.

Our campsite was right along a shallow, slow-moving river and there was a big tree with a rope. The kids were in heaven. First thing every morning they were up and swinging into the river, leaving only when we called them for breakfast. But once breakfast was done, without fail, they asked us to break out the games. The six of them sat there in their soggy swimsuits assembling the pieces of Lego Heroica and dealing out the cards for Eleminis, which turned out to be the big hit of the weekend.

The kids ranged in age from five to nine so their reading, logic and math skills were completely different. At first glance, you'd think this would be a recipe for gaming disaster, but just the opposite happened. They wanted to play together, so rather than argue about who was playing right or wrong, they teamed up. And they did it in the fairest way possible.

They had an older kid and younger kid on each team so no one was outmatched. If someone got confused, then they explained the rules, or even made their own house rules for handling a situation so that everyone could understand. And it wasn't just the big kids in charge. They played the game the way the younger kids wanted a few times, letting them decide the rules and just playing along.

That one little Eleminis game was played a hundred different ways last weekend and the kids were happy with every variation. It was the same with Lego Heroica, Mille Bornes, Magic and even Alhambra which they played with the adults. These kids became fast friends, learned how to work together and settled differences all because of the games they played.

We lucked out on the weather right up until the last night when the skies opened, the wind blew and it poured. We had two big canopies covering the picnic tables where we played and kept most of our camping supplies, but the rain blew in sideways and everything got drenched. Everything, except the two games we were playing when the rain began. We grabbed cards and dice and markers and ran full out for the camper where, for the next hour or so, twelve of us crammed in and finished our games. The rest of our gear, well, it'd survive, but the games had to be saved. Soggy plates and napkins are one thing, but soggy playing cards, never!

1 comment:

  1. I am really glad to read this story. Kids continue to surprise me. I am not a parent but I do interact with my friends with kids and I love to see how kids learn. I taught two kids to play Pandemic, not expecting them to like the cooperative aspect of the game, being competitive 11 year old boys, and I was surprised how well they worked together to find the cures even with three other adults playing. They totally owned the game!

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