The Power of a Card Game

Possibly the most useful style of writing is persuasive writing. If you can master the art of persuasion, then there is a lot you can accomplish. I was thinking about this while writing a draft for an email I will be sending to the upper school faculty at MVPS to try and persuade them into joining Kemps Khaos. Kemps is a card game that I’ve learned, like most of my family, by watching people play at Capon (the family reunion spot in West Virginia). Kemps is a partner card game in which teams compete to get four of a kind and then call “kemps” after their partner does their secret signal.I’ve known how to play for several years, and at the end of 8th grade year, I along with a few other people that knew how to play, ended up teaching most of our grade about the game. The game is a ton of fun, and since then we have been kind of addicted.

At the end of 8th grade I had an idea; “What if we had a tournament with the faculty members at school where the students and faculty members were all partnered up?” A year later, that idea became a reality. A group of around 8 students to begin, myself included, decided to start coming up with how we would present the idea to the teachers. At first it was almost just a joke. We were all calling dibs on which teacher we would want. We had made mock invitations that we called “formally ridiculous” because while they looked very fancy, complete with a wax stamp, the information was written in a very silly fashion. We talked about how we could create t-shirts and even designed our own logo. Then we decided to call it “Kemps Khaos” (I know chaos is spelled with a c really) as a joke off of “March Madness”. After we had fantasying for a while, we finally realized that there was no reason why we couldn’t try to make it actually happen.

We worked out all of the details, and also found other students that we thought might want to play until we had a total of 16 students with at least one person from each grade in the high school. Then we started to unveil our great plan to the teachers. Most of the teachers had never played kemps before, but they said that because we had worked all of the details out so nicely, they couldn’t help but agree to it. Then we taught the teachers how to play and set up the tournament!

Everything went great! We bonded so much with our teachers just by playing these short little games when we had the time. How often do you get to hear your teachers trash talking in Elizabethan English about a card game that they don’t even know how to play? Because for us that actually happened when we were just sending out emails about it! You can only imagine what things happened once the competition actually started.

The idea started just because we were curious how it would turn out. When you mix secret signals and competition, you are bound to get some interesting circumstances. However, once the tournament started, we realized that Kemps Khaos was actually so much more then just an entertaining game. It was serving as a great way for student and teachers to just relax and have fun. We had unintentionally not been able to start until late into 2nd semester, so everyone was pretty stressed about the end of the year. Kemps games were really helping to relieve everyone of that stress, and also create some great bonds between the students and faculty.

During school you are always being told the importance of getting along with others and being able to work well with different people in your grade. The teachers are also told they need to have strong grade level teams, and need to work as a unit to help best benefit the students. What about the student-teacher relationships though? What about cross-grade relationships? How can we help strengthen those relationships? How might we make a strong MVPS Upper School team?

I have discovered that something as simple as a card game can help bridge the gap between students and faculty.

This is why this year we took things to the next level. Kemps Khaos is now a club, and anyone in the high school can join! Planning has been taking place since the beginning of the school year, and once this email has been sent (I’m waiting for some feedback from others before sending it), the teachers will finally be involved and the games can begin! Every time I start thinking about Kemps Khaos I get really excited for all of the fun we will have! It’s amazing how this one card game has really made such a difference in my high school experience.

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