“Dragons” Descend on Youth Center – Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Tech Lab Associate Abbey Wolff-Smith tells players about a character during a Dungeons and Dragons session Feb. 12 at Harrold Youth Center. Players must decide how to react to changes within the story and how best to work together in the face of changing circumstances. Photo taken by Cpl. Raymond Benitez-Santana/Special for Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Teens Play Fantasy Tabletop Role Playing Game On Saturday

Cpl. Raymond Benitez-Santana/Special for Fort Leavenworth Lamp

“I’m running through a very tight shift. I do my job and I don’t stop until the job is done or I die trying. said 14-year-old Micah Austin when describing to me the qualities of his character, a rogue called Shade who he wrote in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy setting.

“We need people who can deliver Amazon packages with the same enthusiasm. I like your energy,” I reply, laughing.

The Harrold Youth Center hosts Dungeons and Dragons events for registered youth center clients on Saturday afternoons. Photo taken by Cpl. Raymond Benitez-Santana/Special for Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Although I am new to the people sitting around me and the world of D&D, I became familiar with Micah, 12-year-old Cayden Hoad; Sean Panzer, 11; and our dungeon master, tech lab associate Abbey Wolff-Smith, as our adventures during the February 12 session of Dungeons & Dragons at the Harold Youth Center require us to work together and interact with each other to survive. .

“D&D is very collaborative… The reason I really like (playing D&D) at the youth center is because it teaches our middle and high school kids how to collaborate with each other. Even though their characters are banging heads, since we’re all working together to tell a story…we try to make sure they’re supporting the band by supporting the story. says Wolff-Smith.

Micah Austin, 14, watched by Cayden Hoad, 12, rolls the dice to determine the outcome of their fight scenario during a Dungeons and Dragons match February 12 at Harrold Youth Center. Rolling the dice determines decisions and outcomes. Low rolls could mean untimely deaths for players. Photo taken by Cpl. Raymond Benitez-Santana/Special for Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Our group battles a band of gnolls, anthropomorphic hyena creatures, who are trying to kidnap three mysterious children who we suspect are of royal lineage. The first thought that crosses the mind of my character, a traveling monk desperate for the comforts of home, is the potential profit that can be made if we return the children to their parents safe and sound.

“Are they worth the money?” I ask.

We are considering it but have decided that the right course of action, as well as the most cost effective, is to return them. Our adventure ends when the children’s caretaker rewards us with 100 gold, a decent payout in the world of D&D.

While our in-game characters didn’t become extremely rich, we came out richer from the experience.

Ezra Cushman, 14, and James Watts, 13, play pool in one of the lounges on February 12 at the Harrold Youth Center. Photo taken by Cpl. Raymond Benitez-Santana/Special for Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Sitting down with others to illustrate a story using the imagination can foster friendship, connection, and community, regardless of the medium used.

The next Dungeon and Dragons session will be February 19 from 2:30-5 p.m. at the Harrold Youth Center. Call 913-684-5118 for more information.

Harrold’s Offerings

Harrold Youth Center offers a variety of activities and a place to socialize for young people aged 11-18.

HYC has a tech lab, art activity room, homework center, teen lounge, indoor basketball courts and more. The center, at 45 Biddle Blvd., is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.

Young people can participate in a number of after-school and weekend clubs such as Torch Club, Keystone Club and Passport to Manhood. These programs focus on leadership and character development while serving the local community through teen outreach and weekly meetings. The center also hosts social events and field trips.

HYC is an affiliate member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which allows the center to participate in grants and scholarships.

For more information on HYC activities or program registration, call 913-684-5118.

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