When Adventures in Cardboard first started at Leonardo’s Basement, Julian McFaul and his cohorts set out to create safe playground structures where kids imaginations can run wild. Now these structures have become an integral part of the AiC summer camp program (often consisting of several 8’x4’ platforms 6’ off the ground, ladders, towers, and many safety measures). Drawing pictures on cardboard tacked on the sides of these structures, giving kids authority in how and where the structure parts are assembled, and giving them the time, space, and guidance to play pretend in a Fantasy Realm becomes one of the most surprising, funny, and miraculous experiences a kid can have.
A Castle Roleplay Program begins with an introduction session where kids learn castle safety, the rules of roleplaying within the castle walls, and designing their own cardboard space and characters within our shared environment. Kids then are given the time and space to “follow their bliss” within the Fantasy Realm. With the mentorship of our Staff Artists, the stories that kids instigate are given direction while modeling behaviors of consent. Giving kids choices without shutting down their ideas is what makes this such a valuable community building experience. Kids learn to empathize about how their story impacts the joys of another story, then they are compelled to think creatively in how their story can both satisfy themselves while enhancing another story. What’s important is that this program provides the time and space for kids to explore and even “fail” in connecting with another story. We’ve found that working through the friction of these situations where a kid is in charge of the narrative not only gives kids agency and communication skills, but is also done in a fantasy setting where stressful consequences don’t matter as much.
We often create Castles and storylines borrowed from British, Celtic, and Norse mythologies, but we love making any kind of structure with any kind of storyline (if a kid wants to be a Martian on a Pirate Ship, excellent!). Teaching and playing safe sword tag games is an option. We’ve found effective ways to balance and direct games outside of Castle Roleplay and often feeding into storylines. It’s super fun! And to finish it all off, our final session of the Castle Program always culminates with a giant, shared event (Goofy Performances, Festival with Games, Castle Siege, etc.) with fun for everyone!*
Consider your time frame, numbers, and location. We recommend 2 hours per session (partnered with your teachers during the school day or as an after school program) with a recommended 3-5 sessions total (over the course of one week or multiple weekly sessions).
We love to play our games in nature, even in snow and rain so long as kids are prepared. We’re very adaptable to your needs and are very excited to partner with your educators. Contact us with any questions or to get the ball rolling. Let’s talk!
*Inviting friends and family members for a “final event” is an option that we can facilitate.