Children's Island

This is our group on a free children's festival, called Children's Island. Please note that all the tents, costumes, etc. were made by us!

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About us in English


Welcome to our website! Since we had an increased interest from all around the world, I decided to prepare a short english description about us. We do not plan to translate the whole website, but if you have any questions feel free to ask me on the [email protected] email address. Before you dive into reading, check out our trailer movie (1,5 minutes) in English (make sure to turn on the sound!)

Organization and programs

Sindeon Foundation is a Hungarian non-profit organization, run by volunteering individuals. We provide all kind of programs for our target group: children between 8 and 18 years. The main program is a two-week long summer camp, which has been organized since 2000. A few years ago we started organizing short camps around national holidays and school breaks.The second biggest event is the winter camp – 5 days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. We also organize spring and autumn camps (usually 2-4 days). In 2013, we had our first horse riding camp, mixing roleplaying and learning how to ride a horse. But these are just the camps.

We encourage the teenagers to join us all around the year for various programs: board game weekends, LARPs, sport events, and most important, crafting. Every item (costumes, armor, weapons, even tents) are hand made by the organizers, with the help of the children who are interested. Since Sindeon is a hobby and passion for the organizers, we are a bit beyond non profit. It means that we actually spend our own money to create new things, we do not take payment for doing it. Every one of us has a ‘normal’ job (coming from all different fields as architects, bankers, coaches, etc.), and Sindeon is something we do in our free time and on holidays. The price of the camps only depends on the costs. Usually, the fee is around 5.000 Ft (~22$ or 16 EUR) for a day, including everything: lodging (always in houses with bathrooms), food, costumes. The only cost not included is traveling, since participants come from all Hungary, and even from abroad.

Game system

Sindeon is a magical kingdom; a world built by the participating kids. The easiest way to describe it is to imagine a place on Middle Earth: far far away from the Shire and Mordor, but still in the same type of world. The characters and places described in the Lord of the Rings are not known to anyone in Sindeon, however we do have orcs, elves, mearas, and dragons.

Location

Usually the summer camp is organized in Köveskál (2 hours drive from Budapest, close to Lake Balaton), which is the place we call the ‘Lower Empire’. This Empire takes up the same physical place as the Káli-basin in real life – the basin is about 10 km (6,5 miles) in diameter. The short camps are organized closer to Budapest (so we dont spend much time with traveling), and every new location we add increases the size of the game area. For example, our first winter camp was organized in Várgesztes; it is a real 1000-year old castle (renovated to a hostel), so this place become known as Tűzfok (Fire Peak), the secret hideout of the sonorites (a religious group worshipping Sonor, the god of fire). It is far north from the Lower Empire (in story as well as in real life), and story wise, it takes about a month to journey to the Lower Empire (as it should be in reality).

We are very consistent with this idea: the story and the location are in close connection (we never ‘pretend’ that a different location is the same place in story). In 2014, however, we move the summer camp to a different location, much closer to Budapest (actually, within the official boundary of Budapest). Here we found the perfect place: a 12-acre scout park with four nice houses scattered in the forested park; divided by two little streams. It is in the middle of a National Park: the closest houses are 3 km far from us. Storywise, the Lower-Empire was taken over by an evil Lich Queen, so they had to move a new location.

Fight system

Based on the educational goals we will describe in the following, the fight system favors only knowledge, cunning – not physical values such as strength.  The strength of every item (and everyone) in the game is defined by rings. The only thing they fight with are these little copper rings, everything else (wooden swords, armor) is just for show.

Types of rings

  • you have a ring of life in your neck, meaning you are alive. You can collect extra neck-rings (or health-rings) if you are a noble, symbolizing the soldiers ready to die for you. If you lose your last neck-ring, you die.
  • you have a ring of physical strength tied to your wrist, meaning you are fit to fight. You can collect extra strength-rings when becoming a knight, or acquiring fight knowledge in any other way.
  • every weapon and armor has rings attached to them. You can only use these rings if you have object with you – you are not protected by your armor if you do not wear it, or you cannot use your weapon if you are not carrying it. When you buy/craft/steal an item, you can use it.

Fighting:

  • the combat starts when someone (the attacker) lightly touches someone else (the defender) and says ‘Taccs’.
  • Both of them put their hands behind their backs, and pull all the available rings on their fingers (only 3 fingers play, index, middle and ring finger, the hand does not matter).
  • “Hit” is if the attacker pulled his/her ring on the same finger as the attacked person.
  • “Damage” is if the attacker has more rings than the attacked person. The amount of extra rings is the damage (for example, the attacker has 3 rings on his index finger, but the attacked has only 1 ring on his index finger, he loses 2 rings).
  • First, you lose your ‘armor’ rings, then your ‘soldier’ rings, then your physical strength ring. When you only have a neck-ring, you cannot fight anymore.

These are the basics, however the system is much more complex. It usually takes about 1-2 hours for the kids to learn, and a few days to understand the nuances. For example, we have special rules for team fights, knight-with-squire fights, magic and poisons, but the ideas always follow these basic principles.  First, real physical values make no difference in game. No one gets any advantage: everyone starts with the same – nothing. If you want extra rings, weapon, armor, you have to acquire it during the game.  And if you die, you start again from the basics. It is also important to provide a safe system which can be used indoors, at night, etc.

Educational goals

The participants are not really aware of the fact that the game system is also a psychological education method. From their viewpoint, the basics of the programs are the following:

  • a great story, which is based on the participant’s decisions
  • full immersion: from the start of the camp until we go home there is no place or time when the game is not going on (in LARP language: no “out” time or zone).
  • beautiful costumes, scary monsters
  • complex world system with economics (resources and money), huge areas to conquer, an interesting society (kings/queens, noble houses)
  • non-combat fight system where a little girl can become a great knight
  • community: about 90% of the children come every year, not just once

Educational goals described

Let us describe these in details, with the education ideas behind each element. The community of Sindeon provides us the opportunity to trasmit important values to the children: ingenuity, cooperation,  creativity, knowing our limits and how to expand them, thirst for knowledge, valor and cunning.  We consider these values crucial during the development of the personality in the teenager age, and we use the methods of drama education, experience of creation and the power of the tales to educate them.

At the moment when someone enters our camp, he or she becomes a citizen of an imagined kingdom; chooses a name that will be his or hers for the next two weeks. This ‘character’ is the one who participates in the life of the kingdom, rules it or helps it to function; becomes part of a micro society. In this kingdom however, since it is a tale, the children can become knights, princesses or mages as well as the rulers of this land. Everyone can find a personality that he or she feels associated to, and this character can participate in adventures not possible in reality. Our aim is to create situations where they can test their cooperation abilities, skillfulness and representation and communication skills. Unknown situations emerge, where the grown-ups (we call them seniors, the organizers) are characters of this magical world, and they behave as the children-created story unfolds. The fights and rivalry between the children’s character turn into a cooperation when facing common enemies. The fellowships and friendships between the characters turn into real feelings after playing, however the rivalry remains within the game: everyone learns that they are not playing against each other, but with each other. Very often two (or even three) children come from the same family, and when the character-oriented play changes the sibling-relation, they become more aware of each other’s hidden qualities and learn again how to play and cooperate together.

The seniors are not only friendly creatures or deadly foes; they are active participants of everyday’s tale. The rules apply to them exactly as to the children. This advocates a really important message: the game and being part of this society is not based in any ways on the real age, physical or social background. The (senior) knight kneels before the (child) king or queen, just as the social norms of the game demand. Here, everyone is the writer, director and hero of the unfolding legend.  The game modell that we create adapts the boundaries of the tale, and leaves behind everything that limits us in life: financial, physical or social backgrounds. We want the children to use the best of their inner abilities to solve the problems, not the familiar advantages.

The inherited social situations are not important here: someone’s appreciation in this society is only based on his or her behavior. It does not matter here that your parents are rich: you can only earn wealth through the game; if you come from a less successful family, here you can become the richest merchant. Let us provide you an example: one of our most heroic knights, Sir Nefarian was not hindered by having just one arm, just as he was able to win the gold medal in Peking and London as paralympic swimmer, Tamas Sors.  The game is not restricted in time: throughout the two weeks, we live in this world day and night. It becomes our lives, not continuous drama sessions. It is not a theatrical play in 24 hours: sport, excursion, bonfine are just as part of the program as in every other camp. However, these are all influenced by the game: sport is not the boy’s playing futball – it is a knight’s tournament. We do not go hiking: we go to conquer a new land.

Within the kingdom of Sindeon, the only accepted currency is the ‘gold of Kál’ (specially crafted coins), that can be earned by participating in the kingdom’s life, and can be used to trade with each other. They can buy everything on this currency; they can only buy anything on this currency. Everyone starts the camp with the same premises: anything that you brought from home (chocolate, weapon, armor) stays in the storage until you earn it through the game. Children more attracted to economics than to becoming knights can also find their place: the kingdom is based on a comprehensive economical modell that adds an extra layer to the game.  Since every item belongs to the Foundation, not to the kids, we can play freely with them. Weapons, armors are something you have to achieve during the game not something you own; you must be careful, because they can be stolen, and if you die, you lose everything you collected and have to start again, with a new character.

Not even the older teenagers (17-18 years old) drink alcohol or use any drugs on any of our programs. At night, instead of the general summer camp practice (where the teachers go to sleep and the teenagers get drunk) they participate in game programs designed for them. Yes, that means that the organizers hardy get any sleep at all (we sleep usually between 2am and 7 am), but we are used that. The younger kids go to sleep at 9-10 pm, the older ones can enjoy the ‘nightlife’ of the kingdom (going out to the forest to meet monsters and fight or learn), but the ‘tavern’ only sells raspberry juice as wine. Since they receive everything they need during the two weeks from us, they do not go shopping (it is strictly forbidden), so they dont even have a chance to buy any intoxication. Still, we have lots of older teenagers and they dont mind this at all: they go to festivals to drink, and in the camp they enjoy the game.

Section

If you read this all through and still have any questions, try these links, or contact me (Szilvia, at [email protected]). Thank you for your interest in us!

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