A summer camp where you get to dress up in costumes and have fantasy sword fights? Feel free to sign me up.
Remember how, when you were growing up, your mom wouldn’t let you wear that pirate costume to school so you could have fake sword fights with your friends because she just knew you’d receive the whooping of your life from schoolyard bullies? Well, now it turns out that there’s an entire summer camp devoted to letting kids dress up and play fight to their heart’s content: Wizards and Warriors day camp.
The camp is located in Burlington, MA (about a half-hour outside of Boston). Basically, it’s a camp that combines physical activities with live-action role-playing. For many of its attendees, this is the first time many of them have ever attended a summer camp; from the sound of things, this is a pretty epic first experience:
Thus, on a recent afternoon that brought the camp’s first week to its epic finale, two dozen costumed players, some as young as 7, girded themselves for combat. The action was intense, the rebel forces victorious. In the end, order was restored to the fictional realm of Sidleterra.
Afterward, several campers indicated they’d be returning the next week to pick up where their characters had left off. Others looked forward to attending a two-week overnight camp later this month, where the storyline and fantasy setting promised to be even more elaborate.
The camp is being run by Guard Up, a martial arts and fencing school. According to Meghan Gardner, who founded the company, the camp has something for everyone, since approximately 20% of attendees have a high-functioning form of autism. Not only that, but even dying in combat is a learning experience for participants:
“In most games, dying is a big deal, because you may not get back into the game,” adds Gardner. “We made dying cheap. At our residential camp, you have a chat with Death, who’s in full costume, and negotiate your way back into the adventure. In gym class, you might stand on the sidelines for the rest of the game. Here, because there’s no winning or losing, kids are more likely to take risks – and that’s what we’re trying to teach them to do.”
When I got sent to summer camps, they involved a lot of sports like soccer and football, so I tended to get beaten up a lot. That said, I would totally suffer through middle school again if it meant my summers were filled with activities like those Wizards and Warriors provides.