We have been given a wonderful and exciting gift. As most of you likely know, for three years now there have been film crews frequenting our camp, as Carina Wong and Alex Simmons worked hard to make a documentary about the experience of our campers and the power of LARP. Finally, the movie debuted and Carina and Alex, with the support of Muck Media and Concordia Pictures, flew me (Jud) and a few of our campers who are highly featured in the film to SXSW to see the premiere. It was amazing!

We Can Be Heroes is a beautiful movie that captures the experience of being a camper in our program so tenderly and with so much care. Carina and Alex spent so much time building a relationship with us, and the belief they have in the transformations the kids are going through shines through. Obviously I am a biased critic, but the movie is fantastic and amazing. It shows the way our campers very bravely and willingly put themselves out there in order to play characters in our Adventure Games and connect with one another at camp. Teenagers are just younger people. They’re going through all the same things. We Can Be Heroes really seems like it gets it. 

Being in Austin as the representative of Wayfinder was the realization of why I got into the LARP business in the first place: to rub elbows with the beautiful people and reap the huge and bountiful rewards of the youth development and youth theater industries. Farewell peasants! I kid, I kid. In reality, being there was magical and amazing and felt like a chance to get to see how our work has touched lives that we’ll never know about. Overwhelmingly, the response of people watching the movie was to talk about how beautiful a space we had built and how much they wished they had access to something like Wayfinder when they were younger (which for me, as someone who has never been especially comfortable getting a compliment, was a… wonderful opportunity for growth). 

I spent the majority of my time in Austin on events related to the documentary, with what little other time I had going to eating tacos (only one non tex mex meal in four days) and seeing the sights (shout out to the one weekend only La Croix house that gave us the true Austin experience). SXSW was a fantastic time, and we’re so excited for everyone to get the chance to see the movie. It’ll be at the Seattle International Film Festival in early May and then at Mountainfest in Colorado in late May. If you have the chance, go and see it and give a nice word to Carina and Alex. They worked hard to show the humanity of our campers, the realities of teenagers. They deserve the world (but will have to settle for the Special Jury Award from SXSW and hopefully more to come).

Written by Judson Easton Packard March 2024