Put those extra sprues to work… for a good cause: Hobby Outreach

Hi, folks. Walt O’Hara here. I run a gaming camp of sorts for youngsters, every August. The goal of the camp is to pluck these lads from in front of their computer screens and get them into tabletop gaming; exercise their creativity, design sense and artistry. I’m very grateful to have been doing this since 2007. Here’s a sampling of what I have done:

2012 Game Camp

2010 Game Camp

2007 Game Camp

The structure is pretty simple: we paint and try “hobby stuff” in the morning,and if that is too boring, my son usually runs a boardgame like Cosmic Encounter or Illuminati with them while I set up for the big event. I try to design something new for every gaming camp, and run things that I hope kids will like. There have been hits and misses– One or two games went over like lead balloons and others were amazingly popular (like the low budget zombie game executed with Horrorclix minis.. I run this Friday every year now, they love it).

Another satisfied customer, playing Gladiators versus Skellies

The problem I have is I’m not burdened with riches; ’tis sad but true. I try to get enough plastic sets from the Games Workshop store to keep them occupied for a week of painting (say what you want about GW, they make it big and colorful). Lately, I just can’t afford it. Back in the days of the Battle for Skulls Pass set, if I bought one of those and provided extra figures from my own piles of lead, that was more than enough and affordable, since I get reimbursed (up to a point) for expenses. That started to be “challenging” after the last round of price hikes and now it’s a lot to pay for what you get, so I’ve gone to cheaper plastic sets. Last Summer, I expended my supply of Shock Troopers from Wargames Factory and didn’t have a lot left to offer my guys– until (last Historicon) Robert Peipenbrouk dropped off a giant bag of leftover figures, plastic sets, etc. that he had no need of. This turned out to be an outstanding idea– there was a lot of stuff the kids had no notion of painting, like soft plastic Airfix stuff, but some metal and a lot of harder plastic too. They loved it, I helped Robert clear out a few shelves and it cost nothing but a little kindness.

So, I’m hoping I can expand the idea this year. I will be at HISTORICON 2013, in Fredericksburg, VA, working Staff, probably Events or Registration. If you are attending Historicon, and have a partial plastic set or two (and I mean hard plastic here, like Wargames Factory stuff, or extra GW Sprues, or whatever), and you really can’t see yourself ever getting around to painting them or doing anything with them, would you consider donating them to Game Camp 2013? I absolutely guarantee the following– this is on the level, it really happens, and absolutely EVERYTHING YOU GIVE ME goes to a nascent teenaged gamer. It’s not for me– my basement is crowded enough, thanks.

Again, I could use sprues that would make a figure complete, not just a bunch of bits, and not soft Airfix style plastic. It’s too hard to prime and paint with a bunch of younger kids, and will lead to a lot of whining when it chips on them. I’d rather avoid that if I can.

I have always viewed events like Game Camp to be the best kind of Outreach– something big, easy and colorful and a happy memory. If you can help, get in touch at misternizz@gmail.com. Thanks for your time.


Walt O’Hara

PS: This year’s showcase event is Big Danged Boats. You can see the kind of stuff I put together for the kids to play. Silly, yes. Whimsical, certainly. But it does challenge the kids to be creative and think it through.