Integrating Live Action Role-Playing (LARP) into a summer camp can be an exciting and engaging way to provide campers with a unique, educational, and immersive experience. LARPing allows campers to physically embody a character and interact with others in a live setting, which can help to build problem-solving techniques, improvisational skills (thinking on your feet), and competency in teamwork.
The first step for integrating LARP into a summer camp is to decide on a theme or setting for the game. This can be based on a fictional world, historical event, or even a real-world scenario. The theme or setting you decide on will provide the foundation for the game and will help to guide the creation of the story, characters, costumes, and props.
Once the theme or setting has been decided on, the next step is to create characters for the campers to play. These characters should be well-rounded and have distinct personalities and abilities. They should also be appropriate for the setting of the game. Providing a character sheet with the character’s background and abilities can be helpful for the campers to better understand and connect with their character, as well as for remembering what their chosen skills are, and how many times they can utilize them.
In order to further the immersion of the experience, campers should be provided with (or have time and resources to make) costumes and props to help them fully embody their characters. These can be as simple or as elaborate as desired, but they should serve to amplify and support the setting of the game.
If the game style involves physical conflict scenarios with play weapons then foam swords and shields or NERF Blasters can be provided for safe interactions. Or if the conflict (which is what makes an adventure a challenge) is only verbal, what real-life or pretend skills can you provide that help the campers navigate the conflict and succeed through the practice of those skills?
The set of game rules and mechanics (how the game works) are also important. Choose a system that is not too complex, making it hard to comprehend, and not so simple as to make it limited and boring. If you are a novice at LARPing, you may choose a simple LARP system to start and then graduate to a more robust LARP system that provides more character, skill, and interaction options.
The final step is to create an interactive scenario, or “quest”, for the campers to participate in. This scenario should provide a clear goal, perhaps one that is in alignment with your camp mission, for the campers to work towards. The scene should also include challenges and obstacles that will require the campers to work together and use their characters’ abilities. Ideally, each scenario requires a diversity of skills so that each camper has the opportunity to “shine” in the moment when they use their special skill to accomplish the goal.
The scene may also require campers to accrue their skills through the completion of projects based in STEM or other academic topics. The important thing is to make sure that the STEM is directly related to the challenge the campers are facing and not just “tacked on” as an educational lesson. These educational elements add a much higher level of value to the camp program because the campers can learn topics applicable to their studies at school.
It’s also important to have a clear safety protocol in place and to train staff and campers on safety rules before the start of the LARP event. This includes the use of safe weapons and shields, guidelines for physical contact, and even established rules of verbal conflict that keep the interactions from escalating to an “out of game” situation where the campers feel personally attacked.
In addition to the LARP event, there are opportunities to include other activities that tie into the game. This includes workshops on crafts that fit the theme such as archery or fencing lessons, historical reenactment and improv lessons, negotiation and social-emotional exercises, and other activities that will help to further immerse the campers in the LARP while also enriching their lives outside of the game. You can even run online LARPs during the non-summer camp season so as to keep your campers engaged in your camp alongside the friends they made at your camp.
Integrating LARP into a summer camp can be an exciting and engaging way to provide campers with not just an entertaining and exciting activity, but a truly enriching and educational experience. Give it a try with our free LARP game and see how quickly your campers will feel like heroes as they take on the challenge of saving the world.
About: Guardian Adventures provides free and licensed educational games, adventures, and LARP systems for summer camps, schools, and recreation organizations.