(my oldest son Hunter, age 11, (wearing the black hat) playing Magic with a couple friends @ our local homeschool park day):
My oldest son, Hunter, age 11 discovered an interest in playing Magic cards while on a recent group campout (to Carpinteria). He has been exposed to Magic before from kids in his local park day, who play regularly (including an older teen who just comes to the park to tutor kids in Magic and play with them). I've bought Hunter Magic cards before, to make it easier for him to be able to hang out with them. But it never really went anywhere. Hunter seemed ok with that. He enjoyed playing at the park and doing other things while Magic was being played. There was always flux among the group and the kids all engage in different things at different times. And Hunter would even sit and watch them play Magic, he enjoyed that, too.
But on the campout something neat happened; he learned to play Magic from a couple kids he had just met. He spent alot of time sitting and absorbing the information, asking questions, playing with other people's decks. And these kids seemed to enjoy tutoring him or whomever was interested-including some kids Hunter knows very well, who also didn't really know how to play Magic. Neither of the 'tutoring' kids lived close by. And yet none of the boys seemed to have a desire to keep in touch. But Hunter, and his small group of friends, were all able to take back the knowledge they learned on this campout home with them.
For Hunter (I can't speak for the other families) it's been a little boost to the friendships he's formed at one of our local park groups. He's able to participate in playing Magic now, instead of just watching, and so spends more time with a couple boys (pictured with him) he's grown very fond of over the months we've been going to this park day. Even with all of the resources and support lined up for him to learn Magic before, he just wasn't interested or felt inclined to play. Something about the way Magic was exposed to him at the campout brought out that desire and he's become interested in it in a way I never imagined he would.
Magic cards are not the end all, be all. But the magic of watching kids learn and grow and tune into things at their own time and of their own will, that kind of magic IS the end all, be all. That magic is a big part of our unschooling lives, and I feel truly blessed to be able to witness it and help facilitate it. Though I never know when a spark will alight, I'm always ready with more kindling.