The June slump has hit, as people are less interested in news and politics and going outside. It’s been a gorgeous few days here in South Carolina. I left the house Wednesday morning and it was cold.
For non-Southerners, allow me to explain: here in the Deep South, our only true season is summer, which runs from late March through Thanksgiving. I’ve seen people mow their lawns a week before Christmas. If we’re lucky we get a mild summer. After an oppressively muggy May, a morning in the low 60s is a blessed reprieve here in the Palmetto State.
But talking about the weather is probably why my numbers are down, so I’ll move on to another non-politics-related topic: my penchant for hustlin’. Readers know that I have a few gigs running at any time, including private music lessons, adjunct teaching, my History of Conservative Thought summer course, and playing shows. I also paint classrooms and do sweaty manly maintenance work at my little school when I’m not molding minds. And while it doesn’t pay anything yet, I’m hoping to get a few bucks for my writing.
But perhaps my favorite side gig is an annual tradition: my school’s annual Minecraft Camp. A former school administrator started the camp, and I’ve carried it on for some years now.
For the uninitiated, Minecraft is basically LEGOs in video game form. The genius creation of programmer Markus Persson, the game places players in a massive sandbox world, with the objective being… anything! There are no timers (other than a day and night cycle), no goals, and no ending. Players generate a theoretically endless world from scratch, and proceed to build—craft—their way to civilization (or endless PVP battles).
Players can activate Creative Mode, which allows for endless flights of fancy, with access to every block and resource in the game, or they can play in Survival, which is exactly what it sounds like: players hide from (or fight) monsters at night, hunt for or grow food, and have to keep their health up.
Minecraft has enjoyed ubiquity since its release in 2011—it’s the best-selling video game of all time—and when we started Minecraft Camp back in the day (I think it was summer 2013 or 2014, but I’m not sure), it was HUGE. The game has inspired probably tens of thousands of mods, from simple additions like extra monsters or types of blocks, to total conversions that completely rebuild the game’s mechanics.
With the rise of Fortnite a year ago, the game seemed to wane in popularity, but it’s apparently enjoying a resurgence: our camp was up to twelve Crafters from a low of about four or five last year. It gets absolutely chaotic at times—like during our final camp PVP battle, and a hectic boss fight against a gigantic, camper-created Creeper named “Creeperzilla,” that saw kids shouting nearly at the top of their lungs with unabashed glee—but it’s also beautiful to see the creativity of young children. I am constantly amazed to see what they create.
And, let’s face it, there are worse ways to make an extra buck than playing video games with a group of creative eight-to-thirteen-year olds. It definitely beats raking up old pine straw and spraying Roundup on cracks in the parking lot.
You can check out our camp’s blog here: https://tbcsminecraft.wordpress.com/