Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Five or So Questions with Aaron Pirnack on Renaissance Adventures

Check out Renaissance Adventures at www.renaissanceadventures.com!

Tell me a little about Renaissance Adventures. What excites you about it?

We incorporate experiential education into a live-action roleplaying game in a way that kids can have a fantastic time outdoors while developing 21st century skills (such as critical thinking, teamwork, self-esteem, leadership, and so on). We've been doing this since 1995 and are excited that others are wanting to join in on our business and educational model.


What type of live-action games do you typically play?

​Our programs are usually fantasy themed with challenges that emphasize a myriad of skills sets. Yes, we do plenty of boffer combat, but each quest has a number of other physical, mental, social, emotional, and ethical challenges packed in. Furthermore, because this is a children's program, the game also develops 21st century skills of critical thinking, teamwork, ethical reasoning, self-esteem, fitness, and social awareness. I've actually found that our live-action games are unique. There is a single storyteller ("Quest Leader") that leads a small group of six or so "Questers." As a group, they adventure over the course of an entire week's day programming (30-40 hours of questing). Then, next time they play, the Questers are in a new group with a new Quest Leader to take them on a new adventure.


What do you think the positive side effects are of your teaching model?

​The children and teens are engaged and motivated to succeed in a dynamic story, and thereby have a passion overcoming its challenges. By couching real-world issues and skills development into the ​framework of a quest challenge, the participants easily intuit the lessons' importance, context, and self-initiation that is otherwise very difficult to teach in the classroom. Our emphasis is also in experiential education, so the participants reflect upon and redo many of the more difficult challenges. Finally, I believe that setting any lesson into a story means that it is more memorable. That includes historical events (imagine being at the Battle of Waterloo rather than being lectured about it), language arts (imagine writing a story about what your character did), and even mathematics (imagine solving a hexadecimal based puzzle-door that must be opened before the vampire lord's minions discover the heroes).


What work did you have to do to set up the organization and spread the word?

​I personally have been working for Renaissance Adventures since 2000. By then the company was five years old, but it was still fairly small - just a dozen of us "Quest Leaders" leading groups in Boulder. As word of our glorious adventures spread to more families, I transitioned to become the primary quest and resource writer. Then, in 2009, I become co-director and business manager to help maintain the momentum, help craft a business and marketing plan, and explore options of branching out to other locations.​ Now we have four major locations in Colorado and one in Washington. We have sold a license to utilize our business methods and program resources to a company called Lore Adventures in Michigan; they have been so successful that they are ready to expand into Texas. We are about ready to open the license to a larger pool of "beta licensees" that have a passion for education, youth development, and of course live-action roleplaying games.


How can people support Renaissance Adventures, and who benefits?

​Spread the word of what we do, and should someone want to open up their own Adventure Quest license in their area, we would love to start a conversation about what that looks like. We have spent nearly 20 years perfecting this program and creating resources so that those who want to do what we do can support themselves as a successful business owner without reinventing the wheel. In fact, our business model requires very little overhead cost from both our own pricing as well as equipment and administration costs that a business would have to incur. We truly believe that this could be a great renaissance in experiential education, summer programming, and live-action roleplaying.