I’ve been wanting to post these photos from Balticon for the past couple of weeks but just haven’t gotten around to it (until today). One aspect of Balticon that I truly appreciated (and enjoyed) was the welcoming face the convention put on for children. Not only did they have children’s activities, but they had well-planned, fun children’s activities (rather than tossing the kids and their parents into a room with a carton of Legos, a box of Oreos, and a jug of red punch and hoping they will somehow entertain themselves).
There are a few entertainers my kids especially enjoyed. Leigh “Supergirl” Alexander (and her faithful sidekick, Booster Gold) did a marvelous job of showing a whole roomful of kids all about “Moving in Outer Space.” This was a combination of fantasy role playing and gentle exercise that kept my boys enthralled for a full fifty minutes. I was especially grateful for how Leigh gracefully coped with my youngest son’s continual commentary about what type of outer-space monster he had turned into. She didn’t shut him down, but she didn’t let him distract her from the other ten kids, either. Now that’s talent!
Heather Dale, the con’s Filking Guest of Honor, and her partner Ben Deschamps put on a marvelous musical concert for the kids. Mark MacDicken looked every inch the medieval magical wizard during his “Flabbergast the Wizard Magic Show” and managed to make my boys laugh a good bit (I was very bummed about having to miss his show myself, but I had a panel I needed to participate in). Mark also led a “Make-and-Take Steampunk Goggles” activity and helped kids and parents make steampunk goggles out of recycled toilet paper cardboard rolls and other household leftovers. Very cool! A special thanks to Mark for heading up two activities that my kids loved.
I wish I could’ve been present to see artist Charlene Taylor D’Alessio lead my boys through her “Astronomical Drawing” activity (Dara was there with them). She showed my three kids how to use oil pastels on black paper to create their own nebulae and solar systems. They were so proud! After my last Saturday panel, I met up with my family in the hotel lobby, and Asher was showing off his “universe drawing” to every adult who walked by. I felt great for him, especially since he has only recently begun to develop some confidence when making artwork.
To sum up, my family and I owe a tremendous thanks to the organizers of Balticon and to all the wonderful volunteers who helped entertain and educate my kids. All your efforts really mean a whole lot to us. You made us feel welcome as an entire family. That is so important for the future of fandom. I can guarantee that, thanks to conventions such as Balticon, my sons will look back on their childhood journeys to science fiction conventions with very warm memories. I hope they will choose to stay involved and that, someday, they will take their own children to conventions not yet born!