The Let’s Go! Waldo “Get Our Kids Healthy” banner is once again on the move in Waldo County. It made an early fall appearance at Belfast Boat House with The Game Loft kids engaged in active gaming.

The cool fall afternoon did not faze the kids as they joined in the game, “Live Action Combat.” The game is aligned with Maine’s Learning Results for physical education; with the kids doing a full warm-up before the activity. It is not a free for all; it is a game of “light touch” and strategy. Program staff and senior gamers teach self-control and tactical movement to the participants. Respect is fostered and maintained throughout the action as well as honesty and fair play.

Reactions of participants included: “Really fun, better than gym!” and “Look forward to it and making the weapons is really cool.”

The Game Loft, an after-school program, is organized around a community of interest based on non-electronic games. It is also a Let’s Go! Waldo Out-of School site. Youth often start to attend The Game Loft as early as 6 years old and stay until high school graduation. When first enrolled, these young people begin as a program guest, where they enjoy friends, healthy food and a safe environment. They become members after only a couple of visits with membership agreement and releases signed by their parents.

Gradually, they assume ownership in the Game Loft and start to experience a sense of belonging that allows them to discover opportunities to learn and serve others. As teenagers, they have opportunities to become leaders in the program and community; passing on the values and healthy habits they learned while having fun. The Game Loft serves kids 6 years of age through 18; in Belfast four days a week and at Mount View Middle School on Wednesdays. There are 240 current Game Loft members in these two programs.

The young man at the center of the above photo helps coordinate “Live Action Combat” and other games at the “Loft;” he is college intern Stephen Colby. He is a Game Loft alumnus and has been part of the program since he was in seventh grade.

As a Let’s Go! Waldo Out-of-School site, The Game Loft has incorporated the 5-2-1-0 message. Already a model program for reducing screen time by promoting traditional and exploratory board gaming, The Loft has switched to water as the go-to beverage, fruits and veggies are featured at snack time and many local veggies are added to their home cooked meals. Let’s Go! Waldo and The Game Loft SCORE! in supporting the wellbeing of youth.

For more information on The Game Loft, visit thegameloft.org/.

Visit the Let’s Go! site to learn more about the message 5-2-1-0, at letsgo.org/.