#069 Why Dungeons & Dragons is Gifted Bliss w/ Sam Young

_Featured Image#069 Why Dungeons & Dragons is Gifted Bliss w Sam Young

It’s Gifted, Talented & Neurodiversity Awareness Week; and we’re Bringing Joy & Equity in Focus with this year’s theme.

As a proud partner of The G Word, Our Gifted Kids is delighted to raise awareness once again with a whole week of podcasts. Actually, 6 episodes! Where we talk about #gifted joy!

Podcast Line Up

  • Marc Smolowitz introduces the week with – #064 Gifted Talented & Neurodiversity Awareness Week does #giftedjoy
  • Monday
    • #065 Gifted Joy & Gifted Play; Why it’s Different w/ Kate Donohue
  • Tuesday
    • #066 Why Gifted Folk Need Board Games! w/ Justin Ratcliff
  • Wednesday
    • #067 How to Express Your Gifted Self with Digital Music & Art w/ Johannes Dreyer
  • Thursday
    • #068 A Higher Skate of Mind for Gifted Kids w/ Josh Smith
  • Friday
    • #069 Why Dungeons & Dragons is Gifted Bliss w/ Sam Young


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Sam Young

Samuel Young, MEd, is a growth-minded, two-time Fulbright Scholar and Director of Young Scholars Academy, a strength-based, talent-focused virtual enrichment center that supports twice-exceptional students and their families. Samuel is a neurodivergent educator who has ADHD. As an ADHD learner, he has a tremendous understanding of, experience in, and respect for all things related to neurodiverse education.

Before founding Young Scholars Academy, Samuel taught in a variety of capacities—including nearly a decade at Bridges Academy—at an array of programs in the US, Europe, and Asia. Travel and culture are near and dear to him. He has led 2e students to over 7 countries for immersive cultural and educational trips.

Samuel has been featured in the documentary 2e2: Teaching The Twice Exceptional, the textbook Understanding The Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted Students, 2nd Ed., Variations Magazine, 2e News, and other publications.

Hit play and let’s get started!



[00:00:00] Sophia Elliott: Hello, and welcome back. It is gifted, talented in your diversity awareness week. And today we’re talking about Dungeons and dragons. Which is super exciting because this was something that came up in our original kind of brainstorming about this week. And I tried a few different things and I just, hadn’t kind of, you know, it hadn’t come together and I’m like, no, I really kind of want this on the list. And.

[00:00:23] Only, I think. Very recently, I was catching up with Sam young, from young scholars academy. And they do D and D and I was like, ah, Any chance it’s short notice, but any chance we could catch up and you’d share with us why, you know, why you do D and D and what’s so great about And so Sam very graciously fit me in and we caught up this week. Like I don’t usually record podcasts quite that late.

[00:00:54] I do try and get A bit early in that. So it was really exciting to get it all finished in time for today’s release. And it wasn’t all smooth sailing. We, it was. Thursday for him. It was Wednesday for me, except initially I was like, I got up on the Tuesday. And. This is just how podcasting goes sometimes. So I’m delighted that we, we got through all of that and I can bring you today a conversation about Dungeons and dragons.

[00:01:27] And why it’s so cool. And why it offers so many things to gifted kids and gifted grownups. And if you haven’t considered DMD before. Maybe after this episode, you will have another look at it because there’s so much creativity and problem solving. And it’s the diversity. You know, D and D is just all about diversity.

[00:01:53] So it was just this lovely, inclusive community. And if you listen to this as like a hardcore D and D player, I am sorry.

[00:02:03] And if you thinking. We’re just not going into enough detail. I am happy to do a pot to D and D with a hardcore D and D player. Uh, and we can kind of do that justice. Cause I know there is a lot of complexity in it. Uh, so like get in touch. I’m putting the offer out there. If you’re, if you want to do a part two D and D episode with me.

[00:02:25] I would be delighted to do that, but this is awesome for beginners. And also for parents, if they kind of like, what is this DND thing all about? And I realized I had picked up quite a lot about D and D on this journey. And so it was lovely to talk about all that stuff with Sam today.

[00:02:43] And of course. A lot of the content from gifted, talented and neurodiversity awareness week this week will still be available because even last year’s webinars and stuff are still available on the website at The G Word. And we are proud partners of The G Word, love their work. Super excited about. What they’re producing.

[00:03:05] And so you can check out their website, register, sign up access last year staff, and continue to access this year stuff because the caliber is very impressive. Like it’s the bees knees. Also here at our gifted kids, as you know, we’ve had a whole week of podcasts. We’ve currently got our three membership community options open.

[00:03:27] For as little as a coffee a month, you too can support the podcast. Help keep us going. And bringing more awesome podcasts to you about parenting gifted kids. You can find out more information in the show notes or@ourgiftedkids.com backslash hub. And I will see you again next week. Cause I have a little bonus episodes. So altogether it will be.

[00:03:52] Seven episodes for this year’s GTN awareness week. Uh, so stay tuned for that, but stay quirky, enjoy the D and D episode. And I will talk to you again very soon.

[00:04:36] Okay, so folks, it’s Friday of gifted talented Neurodiversity Awareness Week, and what a huge week. It has been , and I’m super excited here. Today we’re following our joy, our gifted joy, and. When I thought about all the things that gifted folk I know love to do and what brings them joy, I, I had to include Dungeons and Dragons on that list.

[00:05:01] And so I’m really excited today to be inviting Mr. Sam from the Young Scholars Academy to have a little chat with us about why they include it as a part of what they do. But first of all, Mr. Sam, welcome. Okay. And. Tell us a little bit about yourself, uh, as one of our new guests on the podcast. So I’m excited that you’re here,

[00:05:24] Sam Young: Sophia.

[00:05:25] Thanks for having me. And yeah, I’m super excited to be here. I, so a little bit about me. I’ll be really quick. Not as exciting as tensions and dragons. So, , uh, I am a neuro divergent educator myself, and I am the founder of a program called Young Scholars Academy, uh, which is a virtual enrichment program for.

[00:05:46] Gifted, uh, neuro divergent and twice exceptional students, the world over. So the idea is just that we have strength based, talent focused, interesting enrichment courses so that students can come together and just have, you know, even about an hour a week to be steeped in their interests and strength areas.

[00:06:04] Sophia Elliott: That sounds awesome. And because, as finding, finding your people, your peers, as a gifted kid, let alone our. Awesome, quirky, gifted kids can be really hard, so it’s great that you’re, you’re creating this environment where we can gather them together and we are gonna. Sam back on a, a future podcast and maybe I don’t, I’m not sure.

[00:06:30] Maybe we’ll talk about ADHD because it’s something we have in common and I’ll quickly share this story. Uh, so I was recently diagnosed with adhd and something I do struggle with is time blindness. So I will admit this is the second time I’m up in the morning to talk to Sam because I got the days wrong , and I am a shocker with time zones and.

[00:06:56] So. So we’re here. So I’m here and I have to admit, it’s not the first time I’ve done that. I went back, when I first started the podcast, I had to get up for like 1:00 AM to do this interview, which like I, I’m happily a nao, so that was cool. Uh, except I got the, I got the day wrong then as well, so I had to do it two days in a row.

[00:07:19] So I’m like, Oh my God, I gotta get better at this .

[00:07:22] Sam Young: It’s not easy, it’s not easy stuff. And, and then once you do figure it out, there’s all these curve balls, like, like, uh, time zones changing in some countries and not changing daylight savings. I mean, it’s just so confusing.

[00:07:34] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, it is. And because Adelaide is one of those places, it, it shifts around with daylight savings.

[00:07:41] And I’ll be honest, I can never keep track. So I use Calendly, uh, to try and solve those problems for myself. But every now and then, uh, one gets through so that , and we had to laugh because normally normally it’s my husband that kind of does things like that. So it was quite funny when he got home, he’s like, I’m ready to, manage the kids while you do the thing.

[00:08:06] Cuz he’d been at the gym and I was kind of like, Oh, I got the day wrong and he just laughed at me because it’s kind of like, ha ha, you did it. It’s usually me kinda

[00:08:16] Sam Young: thing. . That’s too funny. I know the struggle. Yeah,

[00:08:22] Sophia Elliott: exactly right. So anyways, we’re here today to talk about Dungeons and Dragons and I was just, when I saw it was something that you guys do, I was just kinda.

[00:08:32] Let’s have a chat about why it’s sort of one of those things that you’ve, found worthy of kind of offering. So tell us a little bit about that story. Yeah, you

[00:08:45] Sam Young: know, it’s one of those things where once you name something, It has great power and with great power. Sometimes there’s a lot of loaded projection and so forth, right?

[00:08:53] So when we think of what we want a lot of our students to do, it’s to have a space like you’re talking about. I say it’s the x and Y axis, right? The X is like, we want our students to have this space where they can be with neuro diversion peers. They can look over and say, Oh, they’re just like me. Like they like the same silly means and the same jokes.

[00:09:11] And we have the. Really radically asynchronous sense of humor. And then the, the why being that they can look up at like a mentor who’s someone who’s, you know, also neuro divergent and like, gets their little jokes and is maybe a generation or two older than them. And I think that, that, that’s like a really powerful.

[00:09:32] You know, formula for success for our students, because they often don’t get it right. They’re often in an environment where they might be like totally marooned or outcasted, or with people who only see their deficits. So we know that we want, you know, what do a lot of parents want? Well, they say they want.

[00:09:47] Socializing classes. They say they want their students to have these things, but our students don’t really often want that. So when we think of like really creative environments, if we get rid of the label, we get rid of the name, we say, what do we want students to do? We want them thinking critically. We want them socializing and we want them, you know, being creative.

[00:10:03] We want them connecting with peers. We want them having fun and, and loving and. We just happen to call that Dungeons and Dragons. It’s all of those things. If you put a kid in a socializing class, you say like, I want you to get better at taking cues and working as a team. It just feels like so deficit based.

[00:10:19] It’s like, you suck. You know you’re not doing this well when we fix it, you know? It’s like, ugh. Yeah. But if you’re like, Hey, do you wanna go on like a mythical quest? And you. Fight these skeletons and figure out how we can get into the castle. Yeah. Heck yeah. Like, sign me up. So yeah, I’ve found that, and again, I’m not a dungeons and drag.

[00:10:36] I didn’t, I grew up playing Magic the gathering, but I, not Dungeons and Dragons. But I’ve just found that there’s something so magical about it that allows our students to do all the things that we want to do, have a boatload of fun while they’re doing it, and come out the other end. You. Far better off with, with new friends and connections and so forth.

[00:10:58] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, absolutely. And you, you bang on there about it just ticking all of those boxes. It was, uh, a couple of years ago that our family kind of went on the Dungeons and Dag Dragons quest. We introduced it as parents because we were looking for a way to kind of segue our very factual. Fact oriented child into something a little bit more creative.

[00:11:27] Uh, just to bring out that creativity and almi, did it tick some boxes? Cause first of all, for anyone who is new to Dungeons and Dragons, there is a rule book that is like, like, Two centimeters thick. Like this is a stodgy, and it comes as a hard copy. Like this is, This is serious rules,

[00:11:51] Sam Young: Right, Right. Cover.

[00:11:53] Sophia Elliott: Yeah. Yeah. And so immediately any of our gifted kids who are into rules, like it’s just, it’s like this massive, It’s complex and it just kind. Let our child up. That’s kind of like, oh my goodness. You know, already it’s amazing. Like just the rule book. And then we, we, so we do two things. And we haven’t done this for a little while and I’m kind of feeling like inspired that we should do it again at some point soon and we’d play kind of stripped down version at home cuz we had younger kids as well and our.

[00:12:33] Would go to the local library and play with a group there and not quite old enough to kind of be there by their self. But, so I, I’m, I’m happy to work, you know, nearby where they play and, and I usually have headphones in, but you can kind of hear the shenanigans going on and. Like you just can’t swing a cat for hitting a gifted person in that group.

[00:12:55] Like they’re all quirky, intelligent, creative, different ages, re the diversity, do you know? And it’s just kind of like, this is diversity in, it’s all it’s beauty. Mm-hmm. . And it’s really lovely. And what it strikes me is everyone. Get something different out of it because there’s so much going on at Dungeons and Dragons.

[00:13:22] And if you ask my, my child, they’re like, Love the math involved. Mm-hmm. in all of the, the dice and the. The, the moments in the game where you are battling, it’s kind of like, yeah, I’m in it for the battles. Right. But, but some of them are in it for the lovely story. Mm-hmm. , some of them are in it for the building characters.

[00:13:48] Right. Some love all the little figurine things. Mm-hmm. . So, and I had read some research around, uh, Dungeons and Dragons just being. You know, and like there’s a lot online about how great d d is, and, and this particular one was talking about its multidisciplinary nature. Like there’s so much going on within a game.

[00:14:16] And so, so how do you facilitate your games?

[00:14:20] Sam Young: You know, I wanna touch upon one of the things you said quickly, which I think is so, Yeah, yeah, please do. It’s really easy to gloss over. But one of the things that our students love about d and d is, There’s the opportunity for them to do two things in the, in the, in the character field, right?

[00:14:35] One is create an avatar which might have traits that they fantasize about or, or, or wish they might have or might even create just comically or creatively. But the other is, as you talk about with the rules, it’s understanding that they have certain responsibilities. I’m the healer, like I have a role to play and that for students who struggle to socialize, that’s very.

[00:14:57] My job is to help others. Yeah. It feels good. You know, And there might be someone who’s like, I’m the the bomb guy, you know? And there’s always gonna be someone who’s like, I do demolitions and you know, but our students get this. Like, they get this clarity and this confidence that comes around, you know, the role and understanding the role and being able to fulfill it and play it, and however quirky it may be.

[00:15:21] I think that’s really important. And I think unless a lot of comfort where they might not have that comfort in their own skin, they might have it in their character, in their avatar.

[00:15:28] Sophia Elliott: Yeah. And on that note, like for example, our child, quite the risk averse child, started off being this sort of, uh, what’s it called?

[00:15:37] Like a stealth uh, I’ve lost the word. What’s the, uh, And Archer, but from a distance

[00:15:48] Sam Young: like a long bow yeah, like

[00:15:51] Sophia Elliott: a. I know what you mean. You know what I mean? You see them on TV and it’s always like that one guy with the big gun and they’re like 10 kilometers away cuz they’re so good. Yeah. I’ve lost the word like a, like a sniper, but, uh, yes.

[00:16:04] Thank you. Yes. Like a, a sniper but with a bow. Mm-hmm. and, uh, you know, keeping it real on the podcast. Can’t think of words. Uh, so, so they were this sniper and, and they would get involved in the battle from. Such a good character, they could be like five K’s away and still hit the target. Mm-hmm.

[00:16:24] because, you know, it’s all about numbers. Uh, and, and that’s how they started off. And then not so long ago, turned up to a game with a new character as a fighter. Who, which is, as you can imagine, is very much in the middle of the battle. Mm-hmm. . And it was really interesting that all the players kind of went, Oh, new character.

[00:16:47] Ooh, fighter. Wow. Yeah. Like really acknowledged that shift in risk and playing. Right. And it was just this beautiful moment of, do you know I’m gonna, I’m ready to be brave. I’m ready to be in amongst it and take more risk. Mm-hmm. , uh, and that evolution and what was so beautiful about that was the fellow players acknowledging and realizing that shift for that person and kind of celebrating that with them.

[00:17:21] It was a really beautiful thing.

[00:17:23] Sam Young: It’s so, it’s so, so important and, and as you said, you know, there are all these different, you know, you could be like a cleric or like a Yeah. Warlock, you know, there’s so many. Sort of casts or, or character categories. And again, it gives, it gives our students a sense of expression.

[00:17:40] And as you’re saying, like the community too. Like when you change a character, it affects a community and it may react strongly to it. I actually, our class, our d and d uh, campaign is in 30 minutes and I just, when you were talking Sophia, it made me think, I got an email from a mom, uh, a couple weeks back.

[00:17:57] We were just switching. The new semester. This is our fall semester too. And she sent me this really mixed email where she had some things that were going on that were really challenging for her. Her kiddo had a really difficult weekend and because something happened in school, but she said, You know, my son said the greatest thing of all today.

[00:18:16] He said, I wanna switch sections cuz my friends are in the other section. And she said, I’ve never heard him say the friends word before. And it brought her to tears and it almost brought me to tears. I mean, I could cry. That’s just beautiful. Yeah. I have goosebumps just telling you about it. And there’s just something where I’m like, Yep, we’re doing the right thing.

[00:18:31] You know, we’re doing the right thing here. We’re doing something special here. Because when you hear that I have full body goosebumps right now telling you. Yeah. Just that idea that like someone found something that they belong to, that they wanna keep coming back to week in and week out, and that when the students move, They’re gonna go with them because that’s more important than, you know, whatever else it may be.

[00:18:51] Sophia Elliott: It is such a beautiful thing and compose myself like that is so beautiful because it’s so hard to find those places that our kids can just feel like they’re making that connection and, and like, let’s face it, that can keep you going through the week if you’re having a rough time at school, knowing that Thursday night is.

[00:19:15] Game night and I get to hang out with my buddies. We all need those little sanctuaries in life and Oh, that’s so beautiful and it’s certainly something you see. And what I love about kind of being on the periphery and having the privilege to kind of witness the game in action is how some, you know, and everyone’s different, but some, uh, individuals get very.

[00:19:44] You know, love to act out the characters. And so they will kind of play the game in character, which allows for immense humor as they’re, you know, this, you know, large sort of. Older teenager is pretending to be a small elf or, you know, just, just whatever it might be. And, and as they interpret and present, you know, those quirks of their character, uh, there’s so many different things that it offers people in the game.

[00:20:19] And so, yeah, a really beautiful, creative thing. The other thing I referred to earlier was we would play a strip down version as a family. So d and D is like this hugely complex thing. There’s no kind of hiding that, which is what you know. No doubt people find really satisfying. So, but as a family, we would just kind of, my husband would be the dungeon master and he’d come up with a little story that would only take like half an hour to kind of work through.

[00:20:52] We would all have a sort of stripped back character and. You know, one of my children were an enchanted unicorn and you know, you could be whatever you wanna be like free reign on creativity. But what was really interesting about that, and I think where our gifted kids can really shine in this is. We were trying to solve this problem and as an adult, you know, not saying that we’re not creative, but with our lived experience, we’re probably more inclined to come up with the obvious mm-hmm.

[00:21:25] you know, solution to a problem and. And that’s, and that’s what we were kind of doing as adults. And my brother was visiting and he was playing as well, and one of my youngest kids just came up with this incredibly creative solution to this problem. And we all just kind of went, Wow. Yeah. And kind of looked at this kid like, That’s awesome.

[00:21:51] Where did that come from? And so it’s this wonderful opportunity. Everyone to shine with their creativity and problem solving and really show who they are. Because as a creative, a very creative game, you know, this doesn’t have to be those limits that we normally have. So just a great opportunity to put those strengths that we have as neuro divergent people.

[00:22:22] You know to the test. Yeah. Not be creative in so many ways. So,

[00:22:28] Sam Young: so it’s so, so important. And especially just, you know, from like a neurological standpoint, you’re getting all these, you know, neurons to fire, right? You’re creating these pathways which might not be tapped into in like a top down school, right?

[00:22:39] Where it’s like rote memorization and, you know, we’re not always tapping into these elements. And when we think about like, at least here in the United States, You know, I live in Los Angeles. Like when I look at people who are wildly successful around me, it’s, it’s quirky, creative writers, actors, you know, and it’s, or, or here, like the economy of the United States is largely driven by entrepreneurs.

[00:22:58] Right. Small businesses and what is entrepreneurship, but finding a small, like a small problem or a big problem. Mm-hmm. coming up with a creative solution. So, you know, the kind of thinking that your kiddo. Modeling is like exactly what we want to be encouraging our students to do. And yeah, games like Dungeons and Dragons and, and so many others do that.

[00:23:19] Before we had d and d we had a program that one of my, uh, I, we call all of our teachers, like our mentors. One of our mentors, Greg had, uh, created a course called Math Landia, which was like a Quest based math game. And it was really cool. And students who loved math loved it. Like we had, we gave a student an award cuz he never missed one in two years.

[00:23:38] Like he signed up for everyone. And we had a student in Switzerland, he would take the class at 1:00 AM in 2:00 AM in Switzerland and we’re, we’re based out of California. So, I mean, you do the math and he is. I think he’s like 12 when he started with us. So like, it was like this really tight cohort, but it was because they had the word math in it.

[00:23:56] It excited some and you know, Yeah. Alienated others, but, but there’s something about engines and dragons, like you said, that allows everyone to come in from different perspectives. You can be the math person, you can be the creative storyteller. You can be anyone on the spectrum of, of characters, of roles, of rules, and, and come in at.

[00:24:17] A way that like excites you and, and allows you to like kind of add value to the team and to the

[00:24:22] Sophia Elliott: quest and so forth. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it’s so true. And so anyone listening who has never played Dungeons and Dragons before, uh, a little bit about the game. So as we’ve said, it’s a role playing game, which means you literally roll dice.

[00:24:42] For things to happen. So an example of that might be, uh, here’s a big troll. We’ve all gotta work together to defeat the troll. Roll a dice and you might roll aice for, and I’m gonna get the terminology wrong, but to see what you can see, What was that called? That’s actually got a name. I’m doing a very bad job of this.

[00:25:05] Sam Young: You need a better job.

[00:25:08] Sophia Elliott: So you might roll it to see how much you can see of what’s going on. If you get a high score, then you can see a lot of what’s going on. And if you get a low score, they’re just kind of like, yeah, it’s pitch black, you can’t see anything. Do you know? So there are these mechanisms that impact the game.

[00:25:25] And then you might roll again to see whether or not you hit the troll with your sword or arrow. And the higher the number, you know, you’ve gotta get certain. So at, you know, over a certain point to do damage and that kind of thing. So there’s lots of dice rolling. There’s you, you’ll see the dice. There are like all different shapes and sizes and you roll different ones for different things.

[00:25:48] And so that can be very appealing to people. You all create, as we’ve talked about, a character. And the character has different traits and there’s numbers associated with all these traits that will determine. You know, if you’re a fighter, for example, how strong you are or if you’re a magical person, how magical you are, that kind of thing.

[00:26:12] And then you have someone that we’ve referred to the Dungeon Master, or I think sometime also the Game Master, perhaps DM or a gm, and that that’s the person who is like in charge of the adventure. So they’ve done their homework, they’ve prepared this sort of storyline. And what the quest is. And they kind of, they’re like the narrator in a movie and you know, they kind of narrate the way through this quest and they’re like, Oh, and you turn the corner and there’s a dragon and now you’ve gotta file actually, is it a friendly dragon or a bad, you know?

[00:26:51] So they kind of narrate the quest and, uh, come up with this storyline. And uh, and that in itself is this amazing. Opportunity for growth because when you start the game, you know, you’re, you’re gonna be one of the characters and the team, but over time, uh, you can share having a go at being the Dungeon Master and coming up with this story yourself, which is a whole kind of other set of skills and requires a lot of confidence, uh, to do that kind of role.

[00:27:25] And yeah, what I love about it is, How different people will play their characters differently and sometimes quite literally be very dramatic and other times just kind of like, Oh, I’m rolling the dice. But it’s the, it’s the, uh, it’s the laughter and the, you know, that bonding that happens while you play and solving this problem together that’s really beautiful and like you.

[00:27:57] This amazing opportunity to make friends, like, you know, and I, if you, if you go, if you are looking as a parent for places to, to play, so you can play online and I, you obviously do it online with your students and I’ll get you to tell us a little bit about that. But you can also do it in person, like we do it in person at the local library, but you know, people meet in different places.

[00:28:25] It really is just designed for gifted community because like our group has all sorts of ages. My child was actually the youngest there by far, and, and there were teenagers of various ages and then there were like adults, couple in their, looked like they’re in their twenties, a couple in their thirties, like proper range of people, but it’s just the most inclusive, welcoming, supportive.

[00:28:54] Bunch of folk all there over this common interest and they love it, you know? And I went and played once and I was kind of like, Oh my God, dear in the head like, like it was I’m like, okay. And I am, you know, I’m not great. Uh uh, Yeah. Like my kids also have certain social challenges and I was just kind of like, An introvert.

[00:29:25] Anyway, everyone’s so gracious and I’m kind of like, How do I do the math on the, And they’re like, Ooh, someone needs a character and everyone helps. And just so beautiful. So yeah, tell us a little bit.

[00:29:36] Sam Young: Yeah, it is so special. I totally agree. And it can be wildly intimidating. From the outside when you, when you see like, Oh, I’ve been playing Dungeons Dragons 20 years or 10 years or five, you know, and you’re thinking like, this kid’s only like 15, he’s playing seven years.

[00:29:53] Like that’s a long time. You know? Uh, and it can be a bit intimidating. And one of the things, uh, that, uh, my dungeon master Jason, our mentor in d and d’s done, we have two groups. We have our intermediate returners and then we have our newbies. And for the newbies, he’s actually. He’s created his own system, which is kind of like a quick character one sheet.

[00:30:13] Yeah. So kind of going beyond like the dense book, like the d and d beyond book and the character creation site, which are fantastic for students who want them. Yeah. And we almost, we almost had a coup on the first day, cause our returner class we’re like, All right, we’re gonna, you know, put the book aside and we’re gonna do the one sheet, but we’ll put it to a vote.

[00:30:30] And everyone’s like, No, we want the book. And we’re like, ok. So, Ready for the book, Let’s put it to a vote. You know, the returner class was really art. Like the we, we vehemently want the books. You guys got it for our newbies. We’re like, Okay, listen, this is a big world. There’s gonna be more complexity that comes later.

[00:30:46] For now, our goal is just to get you in. And so he’s created these, It doesn’t have every character role, but it’s like, you know, the three archetypes that are most common or four or five or, I can’t remember. Yeah. And it’s just a really quick kind of plug-in worksheet and it gets ’em. Early. That way they can kind of roll their sleeves up their WHI sleeves and uh, and start playing, you know, as early as possible.

[00:31:09] And then just learn. Well doing.

[00:31:11] Sophia Elliott: Yeah. Which is excellent approach because, uh, I have seen my child spend like an hour creating a character. There’s, it’s not to be, this is not a lightheart to do, you know, Endeavor doing it with the book. So yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s, yeah. It’s great to get that plug and play initially just to kind of get a feel for it.

[00:31:31] But I can appreciate that they’re after the big experience once they’ve done

[00:31:35] Sam Young: it for a while. That’s right. Exactly. And then they crave the complexity, right? They don’t want the. They’re quick and quick and dirty. They want the complexity and they want the excitement. And one of the things that’s so cool too is that, you know, these students, like I’m thinking of the class that runs today.

[00:31:50] It’s four students from four different time zones. Yeah. You know, we have, you know, different places in the u well, three different time zones, sorry. All, all over the United States and, and, uh, we’ve had students join from Canada and it’s just so cool because. You know, some of them are homeschooled, some of them are in public school, some are in private, but most of them are missing that one thing, which is just that community.

[00:32:14] You know, they may not have a space where there is like, Like what you have sounds amazing. Like a d and d or local library. Like what a dream. Like you’re, you know, it’s gold in your backyard. Yeah. So lucky not everyone has that. So it’s just been kind of our vision to. Create a space where students can tap into that, you know?

[00:32:31] And our, our games are like an hour and a half and they build over six to eight weeks. So it’s an ongoing quest, you know, as you said, like they develop the characters and they start to go on the quest. And whenever, whenever the clock runs up, they’re like, they leave it there and they make notes. Yeah. And then we pick up the next week.

[00:32:46] And so kind of start with like a review of what happened and where did we leave off in the action. And you know, it’s one of those things like the kids don’t. They’re not like we’re no, we, It’s like, okay, those skeletons were repelling down and we had to figure out we could cross the draw bridge before the moat fill.

[00:33:00] You know? It’s like that’s the one thing where they’re not like, Hey son, what’d you learn at school today? And they’re like, I dunno. It’s like some stuff, right?

[00:33:09] Sophia Elliott: That’s,

[00:33:10] Sam Young: it’s exciting and it’s, it’s, yeah, it’s just

[00:33:14] Sophia Elliott: awesome. Yeah. And, and that sounds really great. And like I bet that hour and a half goes quickly.

[00:33:20] Uh, my child meets up and they, they’re there for like four hours. Yeah. Uh, yeah. Like, and. They don’t, they don’t always seem to get very far . They obviously enjoy it along the way. So that just sounds beautiful and what a great opportunity. Uh, and like for anyone out there who can’t find it in their backyard, like we have been incredibly fortunate to it’s great to have those connections online and then meeting people from all over, different places like that in itself is really beautiful.

[00:33:53] And what great opportunities to make friendships. Uh,

[00:33:57] Sam Young: so I have a, Can I tell you a 32nd story? Yeah. Oh, please, please do. From dd, But this is something that just popped up when you said backyard. Yeah. But I had a student, this, I can’t say their names obviously, but I had a student in certain part of the country who was in some of our courses.

[00:34:14] And this summer, Was at a park and recognized another student from taking our courses. Yeah. Ran up to them and was like, Are you and the student’s like, are you? And, and they like, are now friends. They’re mom’s talk like, and, and they were both just in, they lived in the same city they were. In, you know, Young Scholars Academy summer camp, which was that, the mens Landia one, the one that came before Dungeons Dragons and uh, now they hang out all the time and it’s like this really cool story of these two students who were like together virtually and then met in real life accidentally.

[00:34:49] Coincidentally. Yeah, you never, That’s beautiful. Who’s in your backyard, or, you know? Yeah,

[00:34:55] Sophia Elliott: yeah. Absolutely. It can be a great way of finding people and connecting. And, uh, do you know, like I just, I often feel very grateful for Zoom, uh, and how. Easy it is these days and what a given it is to talk to people as we are from all over the world, uh, US, Australia.

[00:35:17] It’s like, yeah, that’s cool. Let’s catch up. And it’s such a beautiful thing and, and very uh very amenable to, to doing things like d and d and stuff like that. So yeah. That’s really awesome. Thank you so much for very impromptuly taking the time to chat with us about d and d. I really appreciate it for GT and Awareness week this week.

[00:35:45] Sam Young: Thanks for having me. This was awesome and I, I’m looking forward to the next time I can come on and chat with you more.

[00:35:50] Sophia Elliott: Yeah, absolutely. I’m really looking forward to our next chat and and we’re gonna hear a bit more about Young, Young Scholars Academy as well. But in the meantime, let people know how can folk find you and get in touch.

[00:36:03] Sam Young: Yeah, I think the easiest way, rather than giving you a bunch of information, if you just look us up, Young scholars academy.org. Mm-hmm. , uh, you can contact me you can get in touch with me and I take it from there. So just young scholars academy.org.

[00:36:16] Sophia Elliott: Awesome. And so you provide obviously, uh, different ways of getting together online.

[00:36:25] Tell us a little bit about some of the things that you do other than DM.

[00:36:29] Sam Young: So we have usually at any time we have like 15 to 20 different course offerings. So that could be like several sections of the same courses, but we have programs that range from, yeah, of course the IND speech and debate. We have ecology, climate change courses.

[00:36:46] We do advanced placement courses as well for students who we really know have this like high aptitude and like gifted abilities, but sometimes maybe struggle with the product. So we’ve kind of found like a, a creative program to help them get like college credit at a younger age. So we have, uh, like psychology, uh, US history, US government and then we have a myriad of other things from entrepreneur classes.

[00:37:14] Trying to think of what we have right now. Goodness, we.

[00:37:17] Oh, uh, Young and Thriving, which is an executive function course where it’s like strength-based programs that students like build their own executive function systems for like task managing and note taking. And I feel like I need that. A big thing too is that the gap between high school and like university, so it created programs to called adulting and thriving.

[00:37:36] It’s like a year. Interest exploration and executive function course where students kind of delve instead of saying like, What am I gonna do next year? Like, what am I like called to do? What am I compelled to do? And then they create a plan. And then we have a college version, which is like college companions, where they’re just, we’re checking in on them every other week or so, and they’re just, Making sure they’re getting the support that they need and doing like fun scavenger hunts.

[00:38:01] Like can you find a student accommodations office? Like get five leaflets from social events that you’ve checked out or things like that. So there’s so much different stuff that we do. I can’t even think of it All right now, .

[00:38:13] Sophia Elliott: That’s right. You do a great job for on the spot. And we’ll hear more about that next time we catch up.

[00:38:21] Thank you so much for joining us today. Hugely appreciate, uh, like I said, the last minute invite to talk about d and d and and finally, you know, catching up on take two of Sophia getting up in the morning. Thank you so much, Sam. I look forward to talking to you again soon.

[00:38:36] Sam Young: Thank you, Sophia. I appreciate it.

[00:38:38] Thanks for having me.

[00:38:39] Sophia Elliott: Cheers.

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