Kids at War 

Relax, it's only a role-playing game, at EndGame's summer camps in Oakland.

Miniature-based war games have been popular among competitive geeks for decades. Despite their violent nature, there's something deeply satisfying and calming about painting pewter soldiers with exquisite detail. Indeed, some players spend more time painting and decorating their vast armies than actually fighting battles with them.

If your kids love games and have an eye for art, perhaps you should sign them up for EndGame's summer camps. This Oakland game mecca will be hosting two weeklong kids camps this summer, the latter of which is focused on miniature war gaming. Kids will be schooled in the construction and care of 25mm figurines and the miniature hills and buildings they fight in. It's a brilliant combination of art, crafts, and strategy.

Aaron Lawn, the store's original owner, has worked the counter of the Lakeshore Avenue store almost every day for the past three years. But this year, he struck a deal with three friends to split ownership of the store and move it to the corner of 10th and Washington streets beside the Oakland Convention Center. One of those new owners is Chris Hanrahan, and he's head counselor of these camps.

"I have kids, and one of the things I came in [to EndGame] to do was to expand the kids' programs," says Hanrahan, who has worked in a game store as well as at gaming companies. He says that he and the EndGame staff want "to introduce these kids to games that they don't play with their thumbs."

Hanrahan will be teaching kids about more than just miniatures this summer. As he explains, "We're really trying to engender good sportsmanship, and how to balance winning with offering your opponent a good time." He plans to teach campers about classic games such as Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, and Hero Clicks. He'll also be playing the part of the doting art teacher as he helps kids flock, construct, prime, and paint War Hammer miniatures.

Also on the menu are such role-playing games as the thirty-year-old Dungeons and Dragons. Kids will learn how to make characters and take them on adventures in the wilds of Grayhawk and Ravensloft. Says Hanrahan, "I'll be the dungeon master, but the way it works, with seeing someone else as DM, you can learn how to do it on your own. If you learn how to tell a story, you can assist others to interact in that story."

Camp session number one runs August 2-6 and focuses on a broad range of games, from collectible card games to classic board and card games. Session two runs August 9-13 and focuses on miniature war gaming. All sessions are for ages eight-twelve, run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and cost $300. That price includes gaming supplies such as miniatures, paints, and books, all of which the kids may keep. Lunch is not provided, however, so you'll need to pack your wee ones a sandwich to eat in between bouts of dragon slaying. Registration has already begun, so call 510-465-3637 to sign up your favorite little Napoleon today. For more information, visit EndGameOakland.com/summercamp.html

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