Nine young people with varying degrees of knowledge about DnD and a wide range of social, emotional and educational needs. Two DMs and a small group of parent helpers – what could possibly go wrong?

 

What happens when you throw a diverse group of young teenagers into a room with a small group of adults with varying degrees of educational experience?

Disaster, right? Wrong. At least when the young people are being introduced to Dungeons and Dragons and two of the adults are experienced Dungeon Masters.

In a series of four articles, I’ll take you through our first week of running a DnD focused summer club for teens and young adults ranging from 12 to 16 years old. It is an account based on observation and discussion with those involved.

Engaging young people can be a struggle. Finding activities that excite and interest them over the summer that encourage socialisation can be even more difficult. We aimed to provide something different for those who didn’t want to participate in sports or outdoor activities but still wanted to engage with others.

It is fair to say that none of us knew exactly what to expect.

The first day was loud; yes, in fact, it was very loud. There were many people in a single space trying to cover a myriad of subjects in a very short time span. Introductions were being made, forms were being completed, and vital information was imparted. Some players substituted loud voices for confidence, while others hid behind parents or watched intently from corns of the room.

Once the initial influx of people was over and the noise began to abate, it didn’t take long for common interests to become apparent. Soon hoods were down, headphones were off, and young people were communicating without parents or other adults instigating the conversations. Parents and DMs too set aside their nerves, chatted with each other and swapped stories of difficulties and successes.

The game hadn’t even started yet learning, and socialisation had already begun.

The adults adapted to the varying needs of the group quickly, utilising space to reduce noise, supporting and guiding those that needed it the most and showing willingness to be just as vulnerable and open to the experience as we were asking the young people to be.

The focus for the first morning was on creating characters and setting up the background for the adventure. The more experienced players soon took leading roles, helping others complete their character sheets and explaining some of the finer details of their character’s traits and strengths.

Rain, humidity, other people using the same space were just some of the problems that were quickly overcome or worked around.

Lunch provided new challenges and new learning experiences for the adults – hardboiled eggs were not as popular as expected; boiled bacon (gammon), however, was a resounding success. Lunch was also an opportunity for the players to share their likes and dislikes

By the time afternoon came, we were ready to begin our adventure into the world the DMs had created. The group were excited, noise levels rose and just telling the story and setting the scene was challenging. We nearly lost several children in the clamour (attention and interest, not physically).

However, the skill of the DMs and the encouragement of their peers pulled them back. When the group split into two and began their journeys, there were moments of silence as they contemplated their moves. Teamwork was soon apparent; one would take their turn, their action supported by the next person, conversations over the best way forward were had, and alliances were forged.

And this was just day one.

 

About us:

Character Creation Roleplaying is based in Plymouth, UK and is the brainchild of Chris Nichols, senior DM and Chaos Wrangler. He is aided and abetted by DM Alex, Keep of the Dice. The work best when supported by the Empress of the Office (admin, general dogsbody, and writer) and an army of parent victims (volunteers, I meant volunteers).

Chris started by offering fun and educational DnD and roleplay game sessions to home educated children. This has now grown to include afterschool clubs and holiday clubs. We are hoping to expand our offering further and reach as many new players as possible.

Character Creation Roleplaying also offers a Lego club and monthly tabletop game day, which is open to the whole community.

Support us in reaching more people by buying us a book and helping fund places for underprivileged children and children at our afterschool and holiday clubs.