As some of our readers know I’ve been running a free monthly Dungeons and Dragons program for teens at my local library for the past couple of years. When we started playing I decided to go with 4th Edition because I think it does a great job giving players the feeling of being better able to survive in combat, and I think some players enjoy having powers when they choose certain classes rather than repetitively smacking ogres with swords, clubs, and javelins.
Each of the sessions runs for about two hours, and I usually have between seven and nine players in a group. At the moment our party consists of an elf druid, a dragonborn warlord, a drow ranger, two halfling rangers, and a human fighter. All but one of the current players have been showing up for years with all the enthusiasm one could hope for, and I’ve continued to be astonished by how much they love the game. I started out running the program because I felt like I needed to give something back to tabletop gaming. It’s helped me out in so many ways, and I want to see it continue to be something younger players will take an interest in. In my experience I’ve found that it can be hard for teens and younger kids to find a place at tables in friendly local game stores in RPG campaigns, and that is nothing against those establishments. Parents are sometimes understandably nervous about the idea of their kids hanging around with a bunch of adults playing what amounts to a game of pretend. Some GMs simply don’t have the patience to work with them either. Plus a ton teens and kids are less inclined to have fun when they’re not playing with a group of friends closer to their own age. I want the teens in my program to walk away with fond memories of gaming, a few new friends, and the confidence that comes from entering a dungeon and emerging victorious. I think everyone deserves that and I truly believe the program has been a success.
I’ve been told more than once that the program I run is one of the most popular programs at the library, and one of the most well attended. There have been a couple of other programs that have been started up by others but none of them lasted for very long. Those were all being run by teens who were on the waiting list to get into our group though, and a more successful program has been running for a little while now. I’m thinking of running a Game Master workshop to help them out a bit. People have also encourage me to try and start up some sort of a business running similar programs at schools, summer camps, parties, and even as team building exercises. I’ve always resisted that idea because I don’t think it’s something that I could actually make a living doing, but I’m warming up to the idea more as time goes on.
There aren’t many things that I’d classify myself as an expert in, but running this program is one of them. So from now on I’m going to be posting little tips that helped me shape and improve it over the years int he hopes that others might start up similar programs at their local libraries, community centers, or schools as well.