by Jacob Bowen
On Wednesday, campers signed up for another Optional, and even though it was their third time doing so, there were still surprises in store for them. Another counselor and I listed an Optional by the name of Cardboard Time. We gave it this name because we planned on playing card and board games, which are typically made from layers of cardboard glued together.
Without any explanation for the name or description of the activity, the campers’ imaginations and creativity ran wild with grand ideas of what they would be doing if they signed up for Cardboard Time. I listened to several campers wondering what it would be. Some asked me questions, like “What’s Cardboard Time?,” “Where’re the cardboard boxes?,” and “Will we actually be playing with cardboard boxes?” Some speculated that we would be making forts from refrigerator boxes; very few of them could have guessed what they were really signing up for.
Hearing all this talk about cardboard boxes, the other counselor and I played into their imagination. We placed all the games in a cardboard box and left it on the center of the table in the computer lab on the third floor of Florence Schneider Hall, so all they would see when they entered was one cardboard box.
Upon opening the box and discovering our true plan, the campers let out a collective gasp of surprise and grabbed the games they wished to play. If a camper wanted to play a certain game, he or she gathered with the people who had the game in hand and began playing in the computer lab. Out of 16 campers, we had three playing various card games, three playing Apples to Apples, three playing Coup and Exploding Kittens, and seven playing Magic: The Gathering, all while Spy Kids 3 played on the projector.
Not knowing what we were going to do, all the campers engaged in constructive and creative discussions, learned how to play new games, and made new friends. Because of this level of engagement from the campers, I plan to keep them on their toes, mentally stimulated, and ready to encounter more unexpected experiences.