Last November, the Champlain Heights Community Centre allowed me to pursue a goal of mine and start a weekly drop-in board game night, open to anyone who wanted to learn. Every week, I would bring a collection of about eight to twelve games for people to explore and learn.
These aren’t your run of the mill Monopoly games either; we play everything from Settlers of Catan to Vancouver designed games like Ducks in Tow and Town Builder Coevorden. The hobby of board games has expanded beyond rolling dice and moving pieces around a board. They have become fun and intricate puzzles to be shared with others around a table. I started off by announcing a particular game I was going to teach, but it wasn’t long before I had a regular gathering of twenty to thirty people gathering upstairs at the Champlain Heights Community Centre.
I have found through my experience in this hobby that board games can be one of the best icebreakers for people with social anxiety. People who have a hard time relating to others will still be able to make a connection over a board game because it immediately gives a connected interest. One of my personal highlights was gathering about twelve players to play Cartographers. The game involves drawing shapes onto a map to achieve predetermined scoring goals. It’s supposed to only last thirty to forty-five minutes, but with all the chatting and community building going on at the table, this one took us close to two hours to complete. We weren’t having a difficult time; everyone was just enjoying getting to know each other at a real personal level. One of the glorious gifts of watching this community grow has been seeing people share their teaching gifts and share with each other the games they love to play. We would often have three to four tables, each playing their own games, each with a host making sure all the players were comfortable and accustomed to the rules.
Using the funds gifted to us by the Neighbourhood Small Grants Committee, I was able to offer gifts to give back to the community we were growing. Gift cards to local game retailers, game cafes, and even some games themselves.
Over the summer, the Champlain Heights Community Centre shortened its evening hours, and we were forced to look for another venue to hold our event. We are now at the Killarney Community Centre, filling up their Grand Hall with sixty people attending weekly. To compete with the ever growing community, myself and a group of regular attendees are going to be expanding this weekly event into longer weekend sessions, with further growth planned for the future.

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