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Residency Programs


Adventures in Cardboard will bring a sense of wonder and student-driven play to your school.

Our residency programs can take shape in a number of ways to fit a variety of needs. Consider how you’d like to schedule our visits. Once a week over multiple week or several days in a row? During school or after school?

Take a look at some of the adaptable programs below or talk to us about your own crazy awesome ideas. We love to collaborate.

The Classic AiC Program (a bit of everything)

  • Build basic props and costumes.
  • Learn safe sword tag.
  • Play strategic live-action games.
  • Explore fantasy role playing.

Live Action Games Focus

  • Learn safe sword tag.
  • Play a sustained, multi-day, live action game in a fantasy setting.
  • Practice team strategy and communication skills.

Props and Costumes Focus

  • Assemble and customize prepared armor and costume pieces.
  • Design and build original props.
  • Learn and play safe sword tag.

Castle and Role Play Focus

  • Design and build an inhabitable fantasy structure. (i.e. castle, village, ship, labyrinth, etc...)
  • Set aside lots of time for free role-playing in the installation.
  • Host a final event in the installation. (i.e. a grand tour, festival, or optionally learn safe sword tag and play a final game)
  • This is typically one project with many groups contributing.

Why tell fantasy stories?

Fantasy evokes a powerful kind of play where kids yearn to create and act out stories with high stakes. In a fantasy milieu kids are often willing to try things with surprising courage. Thrust into a scenario with imaginary consequences, Adventures in Cardboard  provides a safe place where kids are encouraged to try, to explore, to communicate, to fail with full hearts.

We weave stories into our gameplay where characters have built-in strengths and flaws. Kids can decide to be heroes or villains, obsessive or skeptical, absurd or poetic, all larger-than-life and in ways that lead to a greater capacity for critical thinking within cause and effect scenarios.

Kids improvise how a story plays out with our guidance earning the consent of other storytellers and creating a greater capacity for communication and empathy. A child who builds the most fantastic armor can become an icon in the game’s story and inspire imagination and passionate play.  Kids who are devoted to competitive physical play find it easier to “win” if they pay attention to the story and can convince others to follow their plan... or recognize the value of someone else’s charisma and consent to following them. Each participant finds their way into the story through Gameplay, Roleplay, or Crafting, which feeds a respect for a variety of talents and a stronger sense of community. The results are often miraculous.

Why play Gotcha Games?

A "Gotcha Game" is how Adventures in Cardboard refers to rough and tumble, safe gameplay with an imaginary scenario that increases the stakes of being caught by surprise or temporarily tagged-out.

Most tag games are "Gotcha Games" by this definition. When AiC adds instinctual guidelines for safe sword tag and a cardboard tagger, these are simply tools that enhance the imaginary stakes of our games and tie them to a greater group story. 

To be played well "Gotcha Games" require an experienced understanding of consent, empathy and the kind of mutual joy that rises when players enjoy their best efforts to best each other.

All "Gotcha Games" demand a high degree of presence in body, mind and spirit to be played well. This presence can be learned, often with the biggest barrier to engagement being a child's own fear. With inspiring, caring, understanding mentors this is a kind of play that most children can learn if it does not already naturally come to them.

Our "Gotcha Games" are highly imaginative and exhilarating, and yet these are competitive games that allow sporting competition to take place with the ability to immediately reset the contest and try again. The possibility of extricating oneself from the game, at will, is built in. In well-played "Gotcha Games" failure may be dramatic but quickly leads to a spirit of limitless attempts at success and each child can ramp-in their desired level of competitiveness.

"Gotcha Games" are sporting games that sometimes feel more accessible for kids who are are not drawn to the extended periods of team commitment, public performance or the rigid structure of organized sports. "Gotcha Games" can be indispensable tools for the socio-physical development of kids who find organized sports less accessible. These games also serve as great tools for emotional development and can help a child build a mature sense of sports-personship at a pace that feels safe to the child. 

Nonetheless, at AiC we will often increase the level of competition, risk and reward with a mature group of players. Our Tactical Weeks involve older, more experienced kids and can see quite competitive and deliciously fierce levels of gameplay that help us all build resilience, tenacity and character as well as any organized sport.

A mother's Testimony of "Cops n Robbers" from John Holt's Teach Your Own