The BGC Games Rooms are, of course, a place for Club members to have fun. But they’re also a place where friendships form and leadership skills are honed.
Each Club has at least two Games Rooms – one for the teens, and one for the rest of the kids. Paul I. is unique in that there are separate spaces for all three groups: Teens, Cadets (6-8), and Intermediates (9-12). The Games Rooms have pool tables (regular pool and bumper pool), foosball, air hockey, and carpetball. Gaming systems are available for all ages, and our Seidman Club has an outdoor playground that is utilized by the Cadets and Intermediates, as well! For Club members who don’t enjoy the noise levels that can be involved in typical Games Room activities, there are board games, Legos, and other calm, quiet options.
Staff are always present in the Games Rooms, sometimes playing games, sometimes observing from the sidelines. In the Intermediate Room at Paul I., Mr. Harvey shared that while the kids wait their turns for a game, he often has them read to him. This gives them practice and gives him the chance to gauge their reading skills and discover in what areas they could use improvement. If needed, he spends time going over sentence structure, proper grammar, and other components of reading and writing.
In the Games Rooms, Club members who are natural leaders truly have a chance to shine. Each individual game has a sign-up sheet to eliminate any question of whose turn it is, and older kids in each room have been seen taking charge of the sign-up sheets and answering questions without having to involve staff. A 10-year-old leader saw me looking around (probably somewhat uncomfortably) on my first night at Steil and invited me to join his game of pool. Four tiny members, who could hardly see over the edge of the foosball table in the Cadet Room at Paul I., were instructed by an equally small peer on which handles to use and which direction each team needed to go.
Kids who are more reserved often come out of their shells a little in these rooms. Playing games together can create space for easier, more natural interactions. And for all of the kids, reserved or not, friendships grow in the Games Rooms. An accidental benefit of the sign-up sheets is that kids play with whoever is next on the list, not necessarily with people they already know. Staff and volunteers are sometimes able to more easily engage kids in the Games Rooms than in other areas. This not only helps to foster relationships between the volunteers, staff, and Club members, but also gives the adults a chance to nudge students into new relationships with one another. As Ms. Ashley, Program Specialist at Seidman, points out, those connections among the kids are incredibly important fo 8r their social growth. She shared that helping the kids form those social support systems and feelings of belonging is one of her favorite, most meaningful things she does at BGC. With Ms. Ashley and every other staff member and volunteer pouring into the Club members each day, BGC Games Rooms will always be more than just a place for fun, they’ll also continue to be a place for growth.