Friends use games as Stratego to capture Hearts

The organization, which helps local kids, could use more volunteers.



First-time Pictionary player, 7-year-old Celene Santana thinks of a Pictionary place to draw — New York City — then proceeds to do her best. Karen Alaniz, from Friends of Children of Walla Walla, was playing with Celene and guessed “Seattle.” Not bad for a first try.

WALLA WALLA — There were no Sorry faces as The Game of Life was played out, so to speak, at Land Title Plaza on Saturday, as families took the Trouble to break away from the Monopoly of video games, in exchange for the Trivial Pursuit of trying to Connect Four or more people by playing board games at the first� Family Game Day.

"These board games are a wonderful opportunity for adults and children to spend time together," said Mark Brown, executive director for Friends of Children of Walla Walla.

The organization that specializes in matching adult volunteers with children who need a safe adult friend in their lives held its first Family Game Day on Saturday to promote bonding between children and adults, and to help bond with the community at large.

"This has nothing to do with fund raising and development, other than raising visibility. But it’s a nice opportunity for organizations to come together," Brown said.

For volunteer Beth Swanson of The Moms’ Network, Family Game Day was a chance to do both — connect with the community and her children as they played Yahtzee.

"Do I have to count all these out?" Josh Swanson, 9, asked his mother after having just rolled four sixes.

"How about 6 plus 6 is 12," Swanson told her son, trying to show Josh a shortcut for the math.

"Eighteen," Josh said, catching on. Then after a few seconds of mental counting, he finished the math. "Twenty-four."

Boxes of games like Scrabble, Memory, Cranium, checkers and chess were laid out at 10 game stations, as a dozen or more children, parents and volunteers played from 9 a.m. until noon.

A few board games were also given away during the three-hour event. John Houck, who came with his son, David, won a game of Easy Money.

"Buy it. Build it. Get Rich Quick," Houck read aloud from the game box. "It’s a little dated. Today it should say buy it, build it, wait for a buyer," he joked.

In addition to building relationships and a greater community presence, Brown hoped Game Day would win a few more Friends volunteers, who donate one hour each week to spend time with a child who needs a friend.

Sometimes that time includes playing board games.

"I went into Coffee Perk not too long ago and saw one of our matches playing chess. It was great," Brown recalled.

Friends of Children of Walla Walla currently has about 115 volunteers, but it could use another 30 or more. Brown added there is a big need for male volunteers because the waiting time for a boy who wants an adult friend is one year.

"It’s not that we don’t need women volunteers, because we do, but we are always looking for adult males," Brown said.

Friend of Children of Walla Walla plans to hold another game day in about three months. Anyone interested in the next Game Day or becoming an adult Friend should call 527-4745.


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