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Two of Appel Farm's Favorites: Dan Locandro & Magic the Gathering

Introducing Guest blogger, Magic the Gathering master, superstar counselor and ceramics genious: Dan Locandro! Learn more about Dan and one of our favorite Appel Farm games: Magic!

Hey Everyone! My name is Dan Locandro, and I will be your Bunk Specialist for Appel Farm Arts Camp 2013!

art summer camp Dan LocandroSome of you may know me already as a Bunk Counselor in North bunk 13 or as your friendly ceramics instructor, but if you don’t know me because we haven’t yet met, I’d like to introduce myself!  This summer will be my third year at Appel Farm, and I am already SUPER excited for this session to start!  When I began my first summer at AF, I didn’t know what to expect; I was nervous about meeting new people, being out of my comfort zone for so long, and thinking, “will I be accepted for who I am?”  By the end of the summer I had made tons of new friends from all over the world, taught my craft to dozens of campers, and had the best summer of my life!

After that summer, I knew I would be back with my newfound Appel Family at every opportunity!  As an artist, I can appreciate all forms of artistic expression; whether it be a musical performance, a jazz band, sculptures, paintings, tap-dancing or even synchronized swimming; and Appel Farm has them all!  But even by saying all that, I am not even beginning to give you a tiny glimpse of all the majesty of Appel Farm.  Appel Farm is so much more than music, performances and art! AF is about growing children in the camp environment into mature adults who can live and work with others in a contributory fashion.

Every day, we, the staff, have activities beyond the classroom that mature these young minds into the adults they will some day be, and this is done by involving the campers in activities in which they must partner, converse and team up with others.  These activities take place all over camp on a daily basis.  On a given day at Appel Farm, there are soccer games, pool parties, improvisational musical jams often incorporating some sort of dance accompaniment, nail painting parties, open art studios, or my personal favorite: games of Magic the Gathering, a strategy based card game game where you build a 60 card deck with creatures to “attack” your opponent and cast enchantments and sorceries to overpower their army!

Magic the Gathering card deck at sleep away camp

Magic the Gathering game played everysummer at premier NJ Arts Camp


As a child, I played Magic with friends from down the block when I was about 11 years old.  I liked the game for the art on the cards more than any other aspect of the game.  The paintings were fascinating, and each card color had its own theme; each more interesting than the rest!

When I moved from my old home to the one in which I currently live, I lost my cards and all memory of the game.  That is, until I came to Appel Farm my first summer.  I learned as most camp magicians do: from another camper.

summer arts camps play Magic the GatheringAll around Appel Farm, campers were playing magic against one another (I remembered the game from my childhood and wanted to re-learn it) as it is a great way to socialize and spend free time at camp, so I got a tutorial from a camper who was well versed in the game.  That night, my flame for this 20 year old card game was re-kindled and I knew I would be a magician from then on!  The next day, I purchased a Magic the Gathering intro pack (usually available at Walmart or Target for around $15 for anyone who is interested), a pre-made deck that is ready to play with instructions and even some extra cards!  I learned more and more with each game I played, and forever became a member of the camp’s magic community.

This year, by a generous donation from “The Comic Book Store” in Glassboro, NJ (a great place to pick up Magic cards and Comics!), AF now has a large supply of 30 card learner decks and spare cards to build your own.  For anyone who would like to learn, or has any questions about the game once camp finally starts,  I will surely have my cards with me, and many other campers are very helpful and absolutely willing to help any new players.  So, grab your decks and 20 sided dice so we can make this summer at Appel Farm magical!

Dan Locandro
(Bunk Area Specialist)