“You get to fight with swords. How much better could a camp get?’’
What some might dismiss as a geeky alternative to more traditional camps, where sports and arts classes rule, is actually a precious, even irreplaceable resource to the population it serves, say campers, parents, and staffers involved with Wizards & Warriors. Lured away from their computer screens, at least for a few hours, these kids get to engage in more physically challenging and socially interactive versions of games they already love. For many, the excitement comes from playing characters of their own creation in a multilayered adventure story their actions help shape. For others, it’s all about the sword fighting. But everyone seems to agree on the value – and fun – of turning video-game material into real-life play.
“For a lot of these kids, this is their first camp experience,’’ notes Meghan Gardner, a martial arts and fencing instructor whose company, Guard Up, runs the camp. “They usually don’t fit the classic camp mold, where kids go from place to place doing what everyone else is doing.’’ Rather, she says, “We’re taking their dreams and making them happen in a safe environment.’
Joseph Hall, 15, a hard-core Harry Potter fan returning for his third session, said the role-playing camp is completely different from the other camps he attends each summer. “There’s no way this is going to help you later in life,’’ mused Hall, whose self-designed costume evoked that of a Roman gladiator. “There are no professional foam-sword fighters. It’s just plain fun, but it’s having fun in an atmosphere that everyone helps create.’’