So Frankly...

So Frankly...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Good Camping Game ≠ Good Scout Game

I spent the first half of this week at Boy Scout Summer Camp with our troop.  It was a great experience, despite the rain.  There is no better way to see how the future of our society will react to adversity than watching patient, yet determined young men (or women, your mileage may vary) work through mud, wet gear and soaked wood to build a fire in the pouring rain.  It makes me proud to think maybe I have some slight influence for good there.

Yet, all is not perfect.  One of the things I learned in the course of this week is that games that are good for camping, which I have discussed before, are not necessarily good for Scouts.  I had a deck of cards and several games with me at camp, three of which came out: Hive, Bandits, and one of my travel chess sets.  All were put to good use; putting them away was the issue.

Image by David Detwiler
Looking around the table, it was easy to see that playing cards were not given much respect.  In fact, the deck of playing cards that I brought had a few bent cards after just an hour.  I don’t particularly care about that; standard playing cards are cheap and easy to replace.  However, Bandits is a card game that uses its own cards, not standard cards, and would not be as easy to replace.  The game never really caught on in the gaming world, since it is a little simplistic and without a whole lot of choices.  Those facts make it great for young Scouts with little gaming experience; however, it also makes it a game that didn’t stay in print.  If I want it for future events, I need to keep it safe.  It went to bed when I did.

A took a bit more of a chance with my chess set.  Some of the boys were still up when I retired, and chess, unlike Bandits, is a well known game.  One of the new boys was playing, but with an older Scout, so I figured it would probably be okay.  I was wrong.  One knight was lost in the mud.  Since the pieces are less than a half inch tall, and the knight was maroon in color, it was never found.  The new Scout felt pretty badly, but disappointingly the older Scout was pretty cavalier about it.  I knew it was a risk, and I chose to take it, so I am not horribly upset.  I guess for each of those determined and patient Scout there is one who still needs work.  Well, they are boys after all.

Hive is always a huge hit! (Image by Richard van Vugt)
With Hive, I am taking an even bigger risk.  I left it at camp to be returned to me at next week’s troop meeting.  This game was once again a huge hit, and several more boys were introduced to it and loved it.  I left it with a new Scout, and left an older Scout to follow behind him.  The pieces are big and few in number, so I am confident I will get it all back.  Honestly, it was too good an opportunity to teach responsibility to one and leadership to another, so I couldn’t pass it up.  The senior Scout loves games, so I think he will place a little more value on the game coming back whole.
What makes a good Scout game?  First of all, it really needs to be fairly durable (or disposable), just as any other camping game.  Secondly, it really needs to have fairly simple rules.  Some of these boys find Egyptian Ratscrew, a variant of Slapjack, to be a good game, and that (along with Pokemon cards) may be the limit of their gaming experience.  A game like Pandemic may be asking too much, even if it is a good teamwork game.
I will be keeping a separate game bag for my Scout games.  What about you?  After all,
It’s Your Move!

P.S. - Yes, I know that right now Brandubh is also showing as a game I played recently.  I played it with one of the camp councilors.  Afterward I gave it to him, since they can never have too many games and they may need something to do on a rainy evening too.  It's an ancient game that can be made from a board printed on cardstock and aquarium stones.  Let me know if you are interested, and I can shoot you a copy.

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