Monday, April 8, 2013

Caine's Arcade-Inspired Program in Chippewa Falls

 Editor's note;  Many thanks to Colleen Crowley of the Chippewa Falls Public Library for this guest post!

Setting up a cardboard arcade game
After much publicity to the larger community, especially the local elementary schools, it was time for our long awaited Caine's Arcade-inspired event to take place. Let's back up a moment. Does everyone know about Caine? He made the rounds on You-Tube and even PUBYAC, but I don't know how many of us youth librarians have actually created events in our own local communities.

So for those of you who don't know: He was, at the time of discovery, a 9-year-old boy who created a cardboard video arcade in his father's auto parts store in East L.A. After a local film director met him, his story went viral and can be seen at the website: Many interesting things have come out of this story, i.e. a Global Cardboard Challenge, as well as the creation of the Imagination Foundation.

The Chippewa Falls Public Library and the local Boys & Girl's Club collaborated to create our own Cardboard Challenge. The library's contribution was my time for the initial publicity, general planning and about an hour or so of my work time each afternoon for three consecutive days. Though this is a tough time of year to get away, with all us planning for our summer reading programs, this event was a long time in the making, so I felt it was important. 

All youth in the community had been invited and we planned it to occur during the public school's spring break week. Though the Boys & Girls Club is geared to youth ages 8-18, the kids that were in attendance were 8-13 year-olds. The room had a lot of floor space, perfect for the kids to spread out and build their creations. I examined the assortment of supplies. The director had saved cardboard boxes for a few months, but none were very big. He said someone had mistakenly recycled the bigger boxes. When I saw that they were all small boxes, I quickly headed over to the appliance store, conveniently located 2 blocks away and got a few giant boxes.  I brought a lot of other things I'd saved, like egg cartons, empty thermal paper cartridges, recycled blue mushroom trays from the store, empty cardboard tubes from book tape and book cover rolls. These were the types of items the kids latched onto the most.

We got started then as a group, by watching the Caine's Arcade video from Caine's Web page and then discussing the various types and genres of arcade games available today, and in the past. I had brought some photos from Wikipedia and Pinterest that I thought might inspire their creations. Then they began to gather supplies. There was a frenzy to get the 'good stuff' and I can see that it might have been helpful for us, as planners, to come up with a better system for handing out the items. There was some disappointment as some of the teams missed out on supplies that they had wanted. But the kids really made do with what they had.

I spent a lot of time cutting the long tubes into 3 & 4-inch pieces for the kids. Knowing this, I would have saved more empty rolls of 2-inch and 4-inch sized book tape rolls for the kids. Ultimately, I think that while it is nice to have the basic cardboard boxes of different sizes, saving and providing the odd things were the most helpful. The kids made unusual things out of these pieces, like skee-ball holes and marble drops.  I had saved some 10 foot long boxes and kids used them for ramps and other ideas.  I had also saved the ends of the boxes that the library's iPads came in and the kids used those as ticket slots and other interesting additions to their games. 

The children created whack-a-mole, bowling, golf, basket-ball (using hand-created tape balls), tube drops, and knock 'em down 'throw' games just to mention a few of the good ideas. One team even created a cleverly designed dunk tank. My favorite was a photo booth. When it took your picture a 'hand-drawn' photo came out of the slot and the resulting picture showed a funny caricature. Impressive artistic ability, all the way around! 

It ended up being quite chaotic when parents came to get their kids. There were so many games that had been created. There simply wasn't enough time to vote on any of them and certainly not enough time for parents to interact with all the kids as we had hoped.

  Still, in the end, I couldn't help but smile. In my eyes, the goal of the event had been reached --it was all about the journey for these kids. Kids jumped in and used their imaginations to create some elaborate  games that were interesting to try out. They learned something new about themselves, and because many had worked together on teams with new people they worked on some important life skills. Many kids also got a chance to use parts of their brain-spatial, logic and creative thinking that perhaps they didn't utilize all the time. I was truly inspired all over again. Organizing community events like this is what makes being a youth librarian worthwhile. For a moment in time, I was part of something bigger and I am grateful everyday for the opportunities, like this one, to be here in this place, in this position.

No comments: