Last Friday, 20 young people from Dayspring Center’s Camp Discovery program visited our offices. Kids from ages 10 to 15 spent time with us playing outdoor games and indoor games, eating tons of pizza, and then making games of their own with the help of our BLP game designers.

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Our first activity was a fun game where the kids worked together to make a perfect square out of rope with one catch: they had to wear blindfolds!

For those unaware, Dayspring Center provides emergency shelter, clothing, and three nourishing meals-a-day for homeless families with children in central Indiana. Families turn to Dayspring as a last resort; some to escape domestic abuse, others have experienced financial collapse, medical problems, or other crises that caused them to lose their home.

Dayspring Center has been BLP’s primary Giving Back partner on a local level for several years. We’ve had three Dayspring endeavors this year: the “high-need drive” in late Winter (diapers and detergent anyone?), the playground renovation in May, and the game design day in July. Between all three events, we’ve had 100% of our company involved in supporting Dayspring. Between these three projects, we’ve touch the lives of a significant number of moms, dads, and kids who have passed through Dayspring’s doors.

The “Game Design Day,” besides just being good fun, is also a chance to inspire the kids to dream about what they want to be “when they grow up.” Most kids love to play games, yet don’t realize that game design is something attainable for them. They can be creative and make a living doing something they love, and game design is one example of that.

To help get the inspiration flowing, Marketing Specialist Jake Huhn gave the kids a lunch-time presentation on “Getting Paid to Do What You Love.” His goal? Show kids that math and science are cool and school is a pathway to getting where they want to go.

He had this to say about the experience:

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        When they first mentioned the summer camp, I knew I wanted contribute in some way. One of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done was work with the Boys and Girls Club of America, and from that experience I’ve always jumped at the opportunity to get in front of kids with one strong message: It’s cool to be excited about things.

Too often I have been confronted with kids who are bullied for being really excited about their passions. Suddenly you’re a nerd because you got really excited about one of your classes—and I’ve seen it happen just as much with art and music as with math and science.

I tried to reinforce the message that every kid in the room needs to be themselves, embrace what they love, and then take steps to make that their career. It’s awesome to get paid to do stuff you love!

When all was said and done I came away from the day feeling so positive about the future. So many of these kids were overflowing with excitement and ideas, and they all had an appreciation for their education and the work it would take to be what they wanted to be.

In the end, we probably get just as much (or more) out of the game design experience as the kids do. It is a true reward to see their imaginations come alive as they design games without some of the limitations us adults might see. Some pictures of the kids and their game prototypes are available below:

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At Bottom-Line Performance, we think of “Giving Back” as bigger than simply cutting our local charities a check. Here are some of the additional ways we have gotten involved with Dayspring in past years:

  • Painted rooms in the shelter and hosted a concert/party for the residents. BLP employees played and sang, joined by some of the Dayspring kids!
  • Donated clothes and toys each Christmas in our “Adopt a Family” program
  • Sponsored a team in Dayspring’s annual golf outing… too many times to count.
  • Designed and developed A Paycheck Away, a board game that simulates homelessness. We hosted and led multiple gameplay sessions, including a huge one at the 2012 Spirit and Place Festival. We continue to offer the games to non-profit organizations in exchange for a donation to Dayspring.
  • Produced an animated music video that raised awareness and funds for Dayspring Center.