by Jacob Bowen
The gifted students who attend VAMPY make this community welcoming and comfortable. Students hail from varying regions, so they make friends by seeking out others who share common interests. One shared interest that has enchanted over half of the campers on my floor is the classic role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons.
I played Dungeons and Dragons when I was at VAMPY, so in preparation for camp I packed my books, dice, and notes. I predicted that the highest number of players would probably be around three, a relatively small game — I never could have imagined the reality. There are three games on my floor: one with three, another with five, and yet another with six, not including me.
I am a strong advocate for playing Dungeons and Dragons. The mechanics and rules involve rolling dice and using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division ,which encourages strong arithmetic skills. Its role-playing requires critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity in order to overcome challenges and obstacles. With limited daily uses of certain abilities and resources, players have to carefully consider what resources they will expend to reach their next goal. Creativity is not only brought into play when players think of innovative ways to utilize what is already at their disposal, but also when they create interesting characters and act out their motivations. With all of these skills reinforced in the background, the campers need only focus on the fun that they are having while playing.
I am astonished by how invested campers are in playing Dungeons and Dragons. The campers created their characters, wrote their campaign stories, and organized the first two games by themselves and played during most of Hall Time the second week. In the games that I have watched and run, I heard the campers acting out characters by mimicking accents and changing vocabulary to match that of their character. Memorable characters include an Elvish cleric with a Russian accent who reveres the light and protects those around him, a Human warrior with a British accent who is a natural born leader, and a Gnome pirate with a spontaneous personality and compassionate heart.
The campers plan to continue play until the last day of camp. I have been thoroughly impressed by these young people who understand and love the game better than most adults I’ve played with.