Leadership, Teamwork Skills Emphasized at IWU Esports Camp

July 30, 2021

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Equipped with a set of directions and a walkie-talkie, 11-year-old Mack Lee guided fellow esports campers through the assembly of a new, high-tech gaming chair. The challenge: Lee’s teammates were in a different room with the unassembled chair pieces and a walkie-talkie of their own.

In an exercise focused on communication and teamwork, the campers collaborated to build the chair by following Lee’s step-by-step instructions, honing skills that Illinois Wesleyan Youth Esports and Leadership Camp organizers say are important in-game, and in-life.

“They learn how to communicate, how to be a leader, and how to really work together,” said Illinois Wesleyan League of Legends Head Coach Tj Bjorklund. “They participate in activities that are outside of the game that they can apply in-game, but also to life in general.”

Youth Esports Camp
Camper participated in a variety of activities, including an “in real life” version of the Among Us video game.

During one of two sold-out week-long sessions this summer, the first-ever Youth Esports and Leadership Camp provided kids ages 10 to 14 a chance to play popular games including Fortnite, Rocket League and Among Us, along with other games, in Illinois Wesleyan’s state-of-the-art esports facility under the guidance of IWU coaches and players. Campers also spent time outdoors playing collaborative games including dodgeball, kickball and capture the flag, and they learned techniques to be a healthy gamer through proper ergonomics, nutrition, healthy breaks and game engagement.

Lee, who successfully led his teammates to completion of the gaming chair, said gaming requires a comparable level of teamwork and cooperation. “Especially online when you’re playing together,” he said. “If you don’t work together, you could end up with a ‘game over’ screen and your head in your hands. It’s extremely important, and I’m glad they’re teaching us about these lessons in fun and creative ways.”

Twelve-year-old Lincoln Lannin said along with gaming on a collegiate esports setup, he enjoyed making new friends and exploring Illinois Wesleyan’s campus, including the quad and dining hall.

“It’s been fun because we can look around at the campus,” said Lannin. “It’s really cool because it’s all pretty and we can kind of think ‘well, maybe I want to go here when I go to college or if I want to go to college.’”

Esports Camp
Campers enjoyed playing in IWU's state-of-the-art esports facility.

“And, the food is really yummy,” he added.

Bjorklund said the Youth Esports and Leadership Camp provides IWU Esports with an important opportunity to connect with the local community.

“This camp has been very successful in terms of the parent feedback that we’ve gotten and just the general demeanor of the kids,” Bjorklund said, noting that it is rewarding to watch the campers develop throughout the week.

“Outside of just getting to play fun games, we hope the kids learned new skills and felt like it was a valuable experience.”

By John Twork