Stepping back into time to a world of wizards and wenches, elves and fairies, and knights and daze from liberally flowing mead may not immediately strike one as a scholarly pursuit.
Yet, for the members of the Dungeon and Dragons club at Beacon College, their bold campaign to the Lady of the Lakes Renaissance Faire proved the perfect marriage of revelry and research.
Club members soaked up the faire gusto. Students were captivated by combat and stage shows, sampled faire fare, shopped vendors, and participated in a scavenger hunt.
The renaissance faire blends perfectly with the root of the club. Dungeons and Dragons is a tabletop role-playing game that encourages players and the dungeon masters to use their imaginations and work as a team to overcome obstacles and challenges. Students who decide to lead a campaign exercise leadership skill. At the same time, players are able to problem solve and take part in conversations while in character, allowing them to practice important social skills.
This club was established to help students connect and make friends.
“This club helped me understand what I am good at,” said Spencer Shell, a student dungeon master. “It helped me make friends that I wouldn’t have gotten a chance to speak to outside of the club.”
From its humble beginnings with only seven members, the Dungeons and Dragons club at Beacon College has quickly grown to 60 members. This club is led by a joint student and staff leadership team. Club president Chiara Ferrante, club vice president Andy Hogan, and club treasurer Spencer Shell on the student team give valuable input and assist with all meetings and events. On the staff side, club president and learning specialist Shauna Nandkissore, club vice president and learning specialist Samantha Owens, and club treasurer and administrative assistant Arden Mayor provide guidance, mentorship, and teach new players.
The group hosts diverse campaigns for members of various levels of experience.
Meanwhile, the faire experience allowed students to practice the social skills they learn at Beacon outside its sheltering walls.
“One of the most difficult things for us is to keep our focus in a crowded place,” said Andy Hogan, another student dungeon masters in the club. “The faire allowed us to practice staying in a group and communicate with each other so that no one gets lost or left behind.”
While students gorged on turkey legs and Odin’s Brew, the trip deftly blending adventure with academia: staff leadership are spearheading a research study within the club that focuses on the impact of Dungeons and Dragons and how it has helped to enhance social emotional intelligence skills among its members.