Thanks to all of the kids and families who helped us celebrate the Game Loft’s 23rd birthday last month by sharing a “Quarantinecake” made with ingredients from our special care delivery bags!
Greetings! We are writing to let you know that the Game Loft has gone digital during the COVID pandemic. We honestly have no idea when we will be able to open up the Loft safely in the near future, but we want to make sure that our members can still find ways to socialize and do the activities they enjoy. To that end, the Game Loft has established a server on Discord, which will enable our members to stay in communication with each other while we play our games virtually.
What is Discord? Discord is a free platform that people (primarily gamers) use to create chat servers allowing them to communicate in real time while playing games. Traditionally, it has been used for video gamers, but we’ve created a server that will allow us to chat in real time while playing role play, board, and card games. The server has “channels” that are dedicated to the different activities we do at the Loft. For example, the Savage Room area has channels for all the active role play games (RPGs), the Board room has channels for board game chat and setting up on Boardgamearena. We’ve created a chat channel for our Youth Board so they can still have their bi-weekly meetings. We have a kitchen channel where we post what is being served for lunch in case the kids want to come by and pick up a lunch to go. We even have places for the kids to post memes, pet pictures, and their artwork and poetry!
Admission to the Game Loft Discord server is by invitation only – open only to members, adult volunteers, staff. We require that all the kids, adult volunteers, and staff have handles that easily identify who they are (I’m BossChris, for example). We have the same behavior and participation expectations that we do at the Loft, plus a few new rules that help govern online behavior. We want the kids to be able to interact with each other during this strange time and to do the activities they love, but also to use a space that is safe for them to do so.
The Discord solution allows us a little more flexibility schedule-wise. As the schedule evolves, there might be games that occur outside traditional Game Loft hours. But we also ask the members to be sensible in their use of the platform. We’ve already established, for example, that there should be no posting to the server before 9 am and after 9 pm.
Here are the requirements to take part:
- Participants must be at least 13 years of age.
- Participants must already be members of the Game Loft with membership long forms on file.
- Participants must have a valid email that they check regularly.
- Parents/caregivers of participants must provide a phone number and are strongly encouraged to provide a valid email address.
- Parents/caregivers of participants must fill out and sign a supplemental permission form that will be kept on file with the participant’s membership form. It can be printed and mailed to us at the Loft at 78A Main St, Belfast, 04915 or scanned and emailed back to Chris (email@example.com) with the subject line “membership – (child’s first name)”.
In addition, depending on the activities participants want to take part in, members will need to create accounts on supplemental platforms besides Discord that are designed for our activities, such as (but not limited to) Board Game Arena, Roll20, Cockatrice, and Tabletop Simulator, depending where their interests lay.
If your child is interested in joining us on the Discord platform and meets the above requirements, please email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org to get instructions on how to get him or her started.
We will officially launch the Game Loft online program on Friday, July 17 at our End of the Year Zoom party. Updates will be sent via our E-courier and on our Facebook page.
Thanks, we look forward to hearing from you!
Game Loft Program Manager
Well, I made it over the finish line of the Pantry Challenge. We ate as much as possible from the stash in our freezer and pantry and only went out to eat once in early March. Ray took his coffee with him whenever he went out and we reached our contribution goal. Thank you to Jen Gunderson who contributed to the coffee challenge. If there are any others out there who saved their pennies during the last six weeks to donate to the Game Loft’s challenge please send a check with the line on the notes that says, “Pantry Challenge.” We currently have $650 in going for $1,000.
There were some challenges this week. I guess the biggest one was when I made spareribs in ginger beer in the pressure cooker and the heat must have been too high because instead of succulent spareribs we ended up with shreds of pork that I laboriously picked out of a volcanic blackened crust at the bottom of the pot. In other times we would have scrapped the whole dinner and gone out but since that isn’t a possibility we “ate around” the blackened pieces. I usually have great success with the pressure cooker but that night’s dinner could best be described as a “total failure” or more explicitly, “a revolting mess.” I had planned to make enough for leftovers but once was quite enough.
I had enough dried fruits and nuts in the pantry to make about a cup so I put them all together and made hot cross buns for Good Friday and Easter. Right after dawn we distributed them to friends in Northport and Frankfort and didn’t even get stopped by the police for unnecessary travel. I also made daisy cookies and Resurrection buns for the Game Loft’s Easter baskets. We had 16 kids take lunches that day.
All in all the Pantry Challenge encouraged me to be more careful in my purchasing. We had almost no food waste during this period and that is heartening for our budget and the environment. I am surprised to see that I even have some things left over in my freezer. In the weeks ahead we will whittle those things down as I shop more wisely. We have also learned how to eat at home on an everyday basis and that saves a lot of money as well. I hope to keep Ray brewing his own coffee as well. From now on I will make a monthly chart of the meals I plan to prepare and stick to it as much as possible. I proved that you can save $100 a week by careful planning and thinking ahead. Ray hopes to use our pantry savings on a vacation when we can travel again.
Well, I knew it would be a challenge but I certainly didn’t anticipate what Covid-19 would bring to cooking. I have been whittling down my pantry items but, to be truthful, not as diligently as I would have liked. When going to Hannaford is the only outside recreation for the week it is tempting to over-indulge. This last week will be the final push to see if I can save $100 a week and donate it to the Game Loft.
During this enforced stay-at-home period I have been doing some cleaning and reorganizing and some of that has been in my cookbook collection. This week I have decided to focus on a single cookbook and see what I can make using the ingredients on hand. It is complicated a bit by the fact this is the last week of Lent and I should be avoiding meat, sugar, butter, oil, dairy, and all the things that make food really taste good. I have decided to try a new recipe for the pressure cooker that involves lentils and butternut squash. My squash has been in the pantry for quite a long time and is looking a bit “squashy” but if I have learned anything during this period it is to use it up, don’t throw it out, so I am going forward.
I will admit to being overly enthusiastic about hot cross buns this Lent. They are my chief (but by no means only) indulgence. We have been eating Hannaford buns but this week I plan to make my own for Good Friday. Many years ago we went to a church in Canada that insisted on fasting on Good Friday followed by divine hot cross buns right out of the oven when the 3-hour service ended. Breaking a fast was never so sweet.
One final note: Please make an effort to reach out to Chris, Natasha, and Nikky and thank them for feeding kids seven days a week during the Covid-19 period. They are my heroes and I can’t thank them enough. Your words of encouragement are always treasured but never more than now. Send a note to The Game Loft, 78A Main Street, Belfast, ME 04915 or email to Chris Donley at email@example.com
I hadn’t planned that the challenge would be so challenging. I am in week 5 and it’s still going on, just not quite as planned. As you may know, I signed up for six week of Pantry Challenge and Ray signed up for six weeks of Home Brew Challenge. So far we have been able to donate about $100 a week to the Game Loft but I will admit that these days going to Hannaford is our weekly outing and when there I am persuaded to buy things that otherwise I would do without. Last week it was popcorn and throughout the month I have been buying hot cross buns. So much for good intentions!
I have been trying very hard to use things up, though. I made a double batch of tapioca pudding that didn’t turn out very well but I am glumly eating my way through it. I made two loaves of gingerbread yesterday and that makes Ray happy. I won’t have any help now on the remaining tapioca. I still have lots of rice so we are having fried rice with odds and ends tonight. I have always heard that fried rice is basically Chinese leftovers and so it will be for us.
Have you ever made homemade mango sorbet? Here’s an idea if you happen to be hoarding a bag of frozen mango, as I am. This is not a recipe but you can do it from these instructions. Put a cup or two of frozen mango in a blender. Add ½ cup of lemon juice and ½ cup sugar. Blend until smooth. It makes quite refreshing mango sorbet. You can adjust the sweetness or tartness to taste. I think you could also do this with other frozen fruit but I haven’t tried.
I’m looking forward to Easter. I had a loaf of stolen in my freezer leftover from Christmas. I have been doling out one slice each on Sundays during the Pantry Challenge and the loaf is almost done but then for Easter I can make a whole fresh loaf. In different times that might not have been a big deal but now we take our pleasure where we can.