If handwashing and shopping local online were sports, we’d all be Olympic-level athletes at this point. We’re going for gold when it comes to keeping each other safe while doing what makes living, playing, and working in Waterloo Region so great.
Play is that one area that’s been more challenging than others during the pandemic. While we’re pros on the keyboard now, physical distancing and capacity restrictions have meant fewer options to play together. With March Break and summer camp seasons on the horizon, a new game is in town to help our kids socialize, compete, and grow.
The world of competitive video gaming is coming to campers in our community with the launch of the Explore Waterloo Region Esports Camps. Three virtual camps will be available to campers aged 12-19 focused on Rocket League, Overwatch, and League of Legends. Don’t worry if you don’t know a boop from a gank or what DPS means because they’ve you covered.
Esports is to video games what the NHL is to a neighbourhood rink pickup game. It’s organized, competitive video gaming with the goal of playing at the local, national, and international levels for ranking and prizes. The major difference between recreational video gaming and Esports is in the ecosystem. Esports have organizational bodies that regulate play, leagues, and competitions. They offer a path from starting at the amateur level to becoming a professional esports athlete.
Waterloo Region’s esports ecosystem includes collegiate teams at Conestoga College, the University of Waterloo, and Wilfrid Laurier University. Each of the Explore Waterloo Region Esports Camps is run in partnership with the collegiate teams.
As parents, we have to balance our worry about screen time with knowing that gaming is an excellent way for our kids to socialize. “Esports is a realm where they’re starting to change some of the stigmas around gaming,” says Allister Scorgie, Director of Sport Hosting at Waterloo Region Tourism. “There’s efforts to make gaming more of a healthy environment, a bit more structured, especially with esports and esports camps.”
These camps aren’t endless energy drinks and sitting in a dark room with a keyboard. The camps have been developed with two leading organizations – Sports Camps Canada and Subnation– to create and deliver fun and educational programming. Sports Camps Canada is known across the country for camps that inspire athletes to become better players on and off the field. Subnation is a leader in esports experiences and marketing, and are the lead advisors for the camps.
The esports camps are also great opportunities for STEAM education. Explore Waterloo Region Esports Camps are STEM accredited programs that include lessons on digital literacy and safety. “Not only do the camps focus on things like anti-cyberbullying, they also teach how to be a good individual online and how to communicate safely,” said Kye Browning, Director of Esports at US Sports Camps.
In the same way that basketball camp is more than playing ball, esports camps are about a great way to learn more than just the rules of the game. “If you go to a basketball camp, you’re going to learn how to do layups and dribble and do drills. But you’re also developing teamwork, leadership, social skills, and team building, and kids will learn the same things in the Esports Camps,” added Scorgie.
Each camp is focused on one of three competitive games and has different requirements ranging from consoles to PCs.