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Gaming in the Wild: Fundraising, EXPOSED!

A couple of weeks ago I dropped some news that the Bracebridge Tabletop Gaming Community was up to something. Here is an update of the something and the nature of it’s up…

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Back in my piece “The Beginning of Something,” I advised anyone embarking on a fundraising venture to start small, and to stick with what you know. I hinted that our goal was to purchase board games for a group of people that could benefit from the fun. And I didn’t tell you who it was. And I’m still not going to! Why? This is due to the fact that things can change on a moment’s notice, especially at the earliest stages of a thing.

We are going even smaller. And even more local. We want to use our community as a way to give back to those around us who could use it the most. So we decided that for this earliest of journeys down that path, it might be best just to help out those who operate in the very building we rent from. Our decision at this stage is to raise funds directly for the Bracebridge Senior Citizen’s Centennial Club, Inc.

These volunteers put so much energy into not only supplying a venue and filling it with a variety of regular activities for people of all ages, but they supply a home for us as well. So many of their efforts are free for all, and it can be hard to gain income in all areas, which means they struggle every year to keep the doors open. Part of the reason for that is accessibility. Not everyone can afford to pay to attend every function, and for many of our seniors today, budgets are getting smaller. And we don’t want to force those individuals to stay at home as, for a portion of them, it might be the only face to face social interaction they will have on a regular basis. So much of our aging population struggles these days with depression due to loneliness, and there has been much research done confirming that sitting at home on your backside doing nothing is one of the faster ways to kick start a health decline in our later years.

Now you may be saying that we already contribute by renting their space for our community, and you would be right. We certainly don’t have to raise further funds for a establishment that we already contribute to, but this works for all involved. We get to start dipping our feet into giving back, gain exposure for the community while we do it, and our establishment receives the benefits to help all of us continue enjoying social engagement and escapism for years to come.

So the next question is when do we plan on doing this? Bracebridge started an event in the dead of winter last year to get people out on the main street and enjoying the frigid temperatures of our winter wonderland. It is called Fire and Ice, and it involves ice sculptures, bonfires, a fire juggler, and many other interesting attractions for all to experience, not the least of which was creating two large toboggan runs down the hill in the middle of the street! My wife and I took the family last year, and it was a fantastic experience. Ice skating on a trail through the park, and hot chocolate and snow cones wherever you turned.

One of the big concerns of course, was the weather. So in an effort to make sure people had a place to find refuge from the elements, many local establishments opened their doors as warming stations. Churches, the library, chamber of commerce and many others had coffee, tea and hot chocolate for all to enjoy, and with the amount of people who attended the event, they needed all of those places and more to keep up with the traffic. One of the big hits was the local fire station’s pancake breakfast, which went on until mid afternoon! It’s Canada, pancakes with Maple Syrup is a thing, and we don’t mess around…

So our friends at the Centre are going to provide their own warming station, and attempt to ease the burden on the firefighters by having it as a midday affair, providing stomach warming meals of the non-pancake variety. Since the two buildings are just down the street from one another, this should hopefully work out very well.

And while the main floor is serving chili and such to hungry mobs, we will be set up in the basement, our usual home. At this stage, we are looking to have four to six tables set up with easy to learn fun games that all play in under a half an hour. I would like to set up a couple of display games as well, just showing off what a table hosting Dungeons and Dragons would look like, and maybe a more complex tabletop game to tantalise passersby.

Some signage and perhaps pamphlets proclaiming our organisation would help inform the masses, but each of us will be able to answer any questions people may have, hopefully to their satisfaction.

Sounds like it’s all sewn up now, doesn’t it?

Well on paper, everything looks well organised, and we have talked about how we think it will all go down. The next step is the hard one. We have to find four to eight volunteers to help Mike and myself make it all happen. And while I have posted the idea to our facebook page, as yet I have had no bites. That can be discouraging, but there is time. Maybe not plenty of it, but time there is.

And that’s the newest tip I can give you: start early so you can get your volunteer structure in the bag. It’s all well and good to want to help others, but funnily enough you need help yourself to make that happen. So far it isn’t easy, especially with our own worldly commitments drawing us in every direction. With our further localisation of purpose, I believe we can make it happen, so long as we get the people to do it with us. We have so many members who are consistently devoted to having fun and enjoying our company, who wouldn’t want to spend a day spreading that fun and excitement to the world? Or at least, our little corner of it.

And here’s a thing… I have spoken before about promotion, and my concerns about getting too big. We like our basement. It’s ours, and we know where all the stuff is. Everyone helps clean up, and nobody leaves a huge mess (though I’m not sure if any of the Young Ones get any of their potato chips INTO their mouths). Yet if we really do expose our group to a lot of people, there’s a chance some of them might turn up! We now have over twenty consistent weekly members, which is probably the best we’ve had in a long time. It’s getting hard to hear in there when there are four tables all playing epic D&D adventures in a rectangular concrete room with no acoustic muffling.

I’m not saying that everybody we talk to on the big day will instantly become die hard gamers. The best I’m actually hoping for would be for anyone who had a good time to take their interests to Up North Games or Tea Beards and pick up some fun board games. If we see one hundred and fifty people over the course of the event, I’m betting only about five would be seriously interested in picking up the hobby as we do, every week. Does that make me a pessimist? Perhaps.

Or it means that I think we can handle only about five more consistent weekly members before we have to give serious thought to our location. At this stage, that would mean trying to rent the upstairs, which has a bigger capacity. It also costs more, and gets used more often. Bid Euchre is going on the same night as we do our thing, so we would have to change evenings, which might lose us some members who are unavailable on other nights.

And these are all the thoughts we are having as we set this thing up. Stepping out and giving back is a noble responsibility to take on, and we really want to do it. Doing these things can get you noticed, but it can also get you noticed. Catch my drift?

What I’m really excited about there are the people who say things like, “I used to play D&D. I’d love to give it a try again.”, and “I’ve been dying to buy more games, but I just don’t have anyone to play with!” Those were always the best conversations to have when Game On was still open, and I still enjoy having those talks with people today, as I talk about a given game or share some good laughs from a memorable session. That spark of interest in a thing that had only tickled the back of someone’s fancy once or twice.

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