Mrs. Eagle and I decided that we needed to get our butts in gear and get the application forms out for the chess and boardgame club. Especially since 5 kids have already found applications (I have no idea where unless guidance had some from last year) and turned them in. So before I left for the day the applications were out and the announcement printed for The Principal to announce tomorrow.
We ended up with about 60 kids total last year which I was pretty amazed at considering that most of these kids had to arrange for someone to pick them up after school. And we had a lot of sixth and seventh grade members, many of whom have already started asking when the club is going to start again. And, truth be told, I'm kind of looking forward to it.
We have learned some things.
1. Make sure you have a large enough room so you can accomodate everyone.
2. Make sure that the chess players (our thinking kids) have either a quieter room to play in or a corner that's off limit to the others. It's hard to focus when the Risk players are dominating the world and screaming about it.
3. Remind them, remind them, remind them about manners and sportsmanship.
4. The people who make games like Risk need to rethink the plastic pieces. Hubby brings his 1959 Risk game, with the wooden block pieces, and the kids would rather play on that version. Twelve-year-old fingers don't like plastic pieces that fall over all the time.
5. Have a good janitor who will return the pieces to you. I don't care how many times the kids check the floor, we check the floor, heck, even Mr. Bluebird checks the floor, we somehow always miss a piece. I find that piece on my desk the next morning, curtesy of my janitor.
This club turned out to be hugely popular and we served a population that doesn't normally get into clubs. We had kids with high grades, and some with low. We had a kid with autism. We had kids who didn't speak English very well. We had popular kids and we had the dweebs. We had kids that just didn't fit in much of anywhere else, but they fit in with us.
I got an email from a former game club member who's now up in high school and can't believe that there isn't a chess club there for him to join. If he could, he'd come back and play with us back in middle school once a week. I'm almost tempted to ask if we could arrange that.
Kids need a chance to play games - real games that involve conversation and not just blowing thinks up with a button- with other kids (and with grown ups who still act like kids, like the Guidance Goober and Mr. Bluebird). And obviously, they don't outgrow this when they suddenly go to high school.
Heck, I don't think I've ever outgrown it.