When I was a kid, there was a rumour going around that something called Dungeons and Dragons camp existed. A magical land where kids could play D&D all summer instead of having to portage with a canoe, make wallets, or whatever the hell people did at camp (I was too busy working on my own comics and watching scads of bad movies to think twice about getting bit by bugs for two months!).
I have the vaguest of recollections that one was run at Toronto’s Harbour Front, and that there was a famous Dungeon Master (for some reason, in my head, he was called Dave Wizard) whose adventures were epic and awesome and he had line ups of young gamers going around Lake Ontario, all keen to sit in on his sessions.
I never went to check it out myself, and over time I wondered if I’d just dreamed up the whole idea of D&D camp as some sort of El Dorado during the storm of early adulthood . . .
But I was wrong. Dead wrong. It was REAL!
If this article is on the up and up, it seems like many of these kinds of camps were started, but the sad case of James Dallas Egbert III (the dude who tried to kill himself in the steam tunnels of Michigan U, and whose life story was the basis for MAZES AND MONSTERS) and the rising anti RPG sentiment in the Reagan era crushed it.
Too bad. I would have loved going to one of these camps, and I find it hilarious that it was nestled between a cheerleader camp and a baseball camp. So, after I write my kung fu western, I’ll likely see what kind of YA magic I can whip up with a story set in one of these places. My pitch? “It’s Meatballs meets Harry Potter!”
Newbery Award, here I come!