Swamped! A germinating idea...
The story of "Swamped in the Glades" began over 10 years ago when I visioned and designed a rough version of this game, while working with an environmental science after school program. Seeing the same group of kids 3 hours a day, for the entire school year, meant that we had to constantly be coming up with new, hands-on, fun ways to keep the kids engaged and interested in what we were teaching. With a unit on the Everglades coming up, I was brainstorming fun new ways to teach about this magical place, and woke up one morning with a vision of a board game about the movement of water through the Glades. I went to the office, scrawled the basic layout of the game on giant pieces of cardboard, typed up some cards for each ecosystem, and took it to the kids, thinking it would be a one-time lesson plan, and the game would be put in the blue bins at the end of the day. Turned out that the kids loved it, and wanted to keep it in the classroom to be able to play again! We ended up taken this rough version of the game to the other schools where we had programs, and they loved it too!
The kids and my co-workers urged me to build the game out into a "real" game, an idea that stuck and hung out in the back of my head for several years. A few years later, I was heading to California for a month, and knew I'd have a lot of time on my hands, and that it would be a good time to focus on a new project. I went back to the storage room of the organization I used to work for, and lo and behold, they still had the original cardboard version of the game, and cards, so I was able to remind myself how the game worked, and I was off... to California, to creating "Swamped! in the Glades", to embark on a much longer and more involved journey than I could have ever imagined...!
Cards from the original cardboard version of Swamped!
Swamped! as a seedling...
After many years of drawing, researching, editing, and vetting by scientists and educators
from environmental organizations in South Florida, and with generous backing from the
Everglades Foundation, I was able to get an initial run of "Swamped in the Glades!" printed
in the summer of 2018. Throughout 2018 and 2019, I play-tested the game in classrooms
and summer camps throughout Miami with amazing results! It was really special to watch a
whole room full of kids really get into the game and have fun while learning! Using
feedback from these sessions, I completed one more round of edits and revisions, and was
ready for the next step: getting the game printed and into classrooms!
Swamped! coming to fruition...
In 2021, after running a successful
Kickstarter campaign, I was able to print 1000 copies of "Swamped in the Glades!" A portion of these games are designated to go into Title 1 schools for free, and the rest are available for the larger public. During this current school year, I've been focusing on connecting with teachers who are excited to use this game as a resource in the classroom, and designing supplemental resources and fieldtrips to help build on content and concepts throughout the game.
For me, the Everglades is one of the most magical places to be, despite the destruction and drainage that has happened over the last 150 years. I love to teach about the Everglades, and believe it is a vastly important system to all those that live in South Florida. While it can seem sad or depressing to learn about, I am constantly inspired by the beauty, strength, and resilience of this slow-moving River of Grass. I believe that in order for people to continue to survive & thrive here in South Florida, we need a massive re-imagining of infrastructure and the way we relate to nature. To do this, we need to both understand the systemic problems we are facing, as well as be inspired by the moments of resilience around us. My hope is that "Swamped in the Glades!" can contribute to this understanding and be one piece of the puzzle.
Original Kickstarter video