Below are 3 stories from Coen, Maria and Kathy, EVS volunteers from Braşov that now occupy this blog :D
For the International Children’s Day, the 1st of June 2014,we prepared a big version of the board game “The settlers of Catan” for around 100 people in the small village Holbav, close to Brasov. We promoted the event through the 2 schools there, where we used to do activities with the children of the primary school classes every week, so a lot of people knew about the event. Though the feeling when we picked up the people after church to go to the event place and the whole village seemed to walk behind us was strange and funny. After all the people registered we started with a picnic all together and with the explanation of the game. Afterwards I was together with one Romanian volunteer in a part where the people had to come to do different tasks to win the resource “Wood”. People seemed to enjoy the game a lot even if they did not understand the rules completely and it was messy in some parts. Children as well as adults were very excited about doing the tasks to win the different resources, to buy villages and cities afterwards at the board, to compete with other teams and were running and jumping around, sometimes shouting for the resource they needed at this moment. So it was a lot of fun also for us as volunteers but also stressful sometimes to keep the people calm and waiting if suddenly five teams wanted to get wood at the same time. This was also more messy than planned because we had to do the event in an inside location and not outside on a big field where the teams have more space to run around and to do the tasks.
It was nice to see different families working together, adults coordinating their groups, helping the children to understand the game and children enjoying doing the tasks. Of course it did not all work like we planned, but is this ever the case if you do not know how the people are and how they get the game, the most important thing is that everybody, especially the children enjoyed the game a lot, that was our aim!
The 1st of June we celebrated The Children’s Day in Holbav. We tried to organize a huge event with all the kids with whom we’ve been working all the year in the schools. It was not so easy, so until the same day we didn’t know how many people we’d be. When we saw all the people coming from the church we were sharing thoughts between excitation and pleasant fear with the other volunteers. We were more than one hundred people trying to play Coloniștii din Catan! We adapt the game for a large number of persons and instead of rolling the dices they were able to get the resources passing some tasks! We also wanted to introduce a little bit of History and we present the history of “Țara Bârsei” where Brașov, Holbav and surroundings in the cards we made explaining some characters of the time, some events that happened and we made a special big board with the shape of the ancient country. The families were playing together and they really had fun! And what is it better than learning history while playing? I was in the board and it was really nice, with another volunteer we were trying to coordinate all the teams, counting points when the teams were building and sending the real thief to the resources when they got the soldier card! It was also really stressful at some moments, because all the teams were coming together to build villages, cities and roads. Some of them also were buying some development cards and bringing the thief to the other teams and stealing resources! It shocked me to see how the parents and grandparents were involved on this. They were playing the same than the kids and trying to make the kids understand the game. It was amazing to see 2 grandmothers running together to the “Lemn” spot and sending the kids to some other places in order to do it faster. I’m really happy how the game was because I could never imagine that three generations of people could play together and have a nice Sunday like this. It was a really nice day where parents and kids from Holbav could play together and enjoy a nice time with the family. And for us, the best way of saying goodbye to one year full of emotions on the village schools with all those kids.
Maria Frías Corrius
It’s 1:30am in the night and I’m packing a bucket full of stones. The kitchen is a total war zone of scissors, cardboard boxes, papers, paint that still needs to dry, prepared boxes of other resources and 1001 other things. In less than 7 hours we need to be in a car to Holbav to do one of our most prepared and biggest events in the whole project: Giant Catan.
For those of you that don’t know what Catan is, it’s a turn-based board game where you have to collect resources like wood, stone, wheat, wool and clay to build settlements and cities and gather points along the way. The first one to reach 10 points wins. More about this strategic game can be found here: http://www.catan.ro/faq.html (in Romanian) or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Settlers_of_Catan (in English)
Based on the board game we decided to create a life-size version of Catan. The game works mostly the same, except this time the resources are spread out over a large playing field and groups have to do tasks to get the resource. So in order to get wood, for instance, they need to hit a nail all the way down in a block of wood. For stone they need to guess how heavy 2 stones are. The “building” of settlements and cities, as well as other rules of the game, stays mostly intact.
The amount of work that came out of this is unprecedented. So for all of us it was a big moment: what would the weather be (it had been raining all the days before and even on our big day it looked like it would be rainy weather), how many people of the 140 sign-ups would actually show up, would they get the game, would the tasks be easy for them, etc.
At around 10am we started to prepare everything and soon the volunteers, who we recruited to help us, came as well. Food was being prepared in the kitchen, balloons were blown up, resource-points were setting up and tables and chairs were positioned for everybody to sit on.
After the community of Holbav came back from church around 12:30pm, more than 100 people came at the same time to the event. “Yelp! There’s a lot of them!” we said to each other. The people were received in the main room and soon we started with the introduction. We decided it would be best to eat before the game, so in came the food we prepared.
With all bellies filled up with food, the game started. We made teams of 12-15 people (it was quite hard to create balanced groups with equal members, we discovered) and started explaining the rules of the game, and also the variations of our game, because most people had never even heard of the game. It was hard to keep their concentration and this lead to a bit of a mess in the beginning as all teams were discovering how it is supposed to work.
My position was at the stones resource together with Andreea. It… was… madness! Big groups would come at once and scream “Piatra! Piatra!” (Stone! Stone!) and we had to verify that they indeed could do the task, for how many people, what colour their team was, what task was available to do for them and then do the task, give them back their resource card and give them a stone resource (or 2 if they had a stamp on the back) if they were successful and then reset for the next group. Phew! And for those that know the game a little, somewhere halfway the game, you could be craving for a lot of stones because they are necessary for building cities. So at some point we had 4 to 5 groups lining up.
But I loved it. It was a pleasant chaos all around, everybody was busy, the parents and grandma’s had sometimes even more fun than the kids (great to see) and some teams were really into it and racing all over the place. There were minor improvement points that I could see. For example the distribution of people on the resources could be dynamic the next time, to prevent a huge queue build-up at wheat and stone later on in the game. The explanation of the rules could be done in advance or in a more interactive way perhaps, so the attention is not lost and teams can start sooner with the game. Finally, the information point should be mobile, or a team captain could go with each team at all times to assist where necessary.
Overall I think we did a fantastic job and the objective of delivering a nice family day in Holbav was reached. The next edition can hopefully be completely outside, as this would solve the crowdedness and would make it a lot more impressive immediately.
Thanks to all our wonderful volunteers for helping us, without you it wouldn’t have been possible that day! You are awesome!
The location of the event