Thinking outside the box |

Thinking outside the box

Vail Mountain School student Henry Hancock lets a ball flys in his cardboard bowling alley. It's part of VMS' cardboard challenge, and Saturday's Minturn Cardboard Challenge. It all part of the Global Cardboard Challenge based on Caine's Arcade and the viral videos it inspired.

MINTURN, Colorado – A viral video about an East Los Angeles boy and his cardboard arcade is firing imaginations in local students.

Saturday’s Minturn Cardboard Challenge is part of the Global Cardboard Challenge being held in 25 countries around the world.

It started like this.

Nine-year-old Caine Monroy spent his summer building and running an elaborate arcade filled with games outside his father’s used auto parts store in East L.A. He charged admission, awarded prizes and even developed a fun-pass that allowed players 500 plays for twice the regular cost of admission.

The thing is, the games were made entirely out of cardboard and other discarded materials. Monroy built things like basketball and soccer games, as well as a claw game where players could fish for prizes using an S-hook suspended from a piece of string.

Day after day, Monroy stood outside his father’s store asking people if they would like to play his games. Initially, he did not receive that much interest, but he persevered.

One day a man named Nivran Mullick stopped in the auto parts store looking for a door handle for his 1996 Toyota. As it turns out, Mullick is a filmmaker and after playing Caine’s Arcade, asked if he could make a film about it. He did, it went viral, inspired a flash-mob, and soon Monroy had lines around the block waiting to play. The goal of the film was to build a $25,000 scholarship fund for Caine. After one day, they had raised more than twice that. After a week, they received a grant for $250,000 to start the Caine’s Arcade Imagination Foundation. The mission is to find, foster and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in kids.

That leads us to the inaugural Global Cardboard Challenge, which will take place today around the world in 25 countries on four continents. The challenge is simply to build things, as Caine did, using only cardboard, tape and imagination.

The local Cardboard Challenge is in Minturn.

“A global community has come together because of Caine’s Arcade,” Mullick said. “The goal is not only to help kids build what they can imagine, but to also encourage them to imagine the world they can build.”

Corrugated creations

Students at Vail Mountain School got a head start and spent Wednesday morning building and sharing games and inventions. VMS students worked with their book buddies, pairs of younger and older students who work together to build reading skills, and built castles, sleds, birdhouses, cars, games, a dog, and a multitude of other cardboard creations. Among the games were skee-ball, a bowling alley, Whack-a-Mole, soccer, basketball, as well as a tribute to Caine’s claw machine where contestants fish for prizes.

Wednesday’s VMS event builds on Vail Mountain School’s Family Summer Read Aloud book, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” the story of William Kamkwamba, a young boy in Malawi who built a windmill from junkyard scraps in order to help feed his village during one of the worst famines in Malawi’s history. The story gained global attention and inspired the Moving Windmills Project, a nonprofit that supports rural economic development and education projects in Malawi.

“The common thread between the two stories and the ovearching goal of this curricular thread is to show children that they can effect change not only at home, but also on a global scale,” said Deb Deverell, VMS Lower School Director. “Working as a team, the boys and girls had to conceptualize and build a creation from scratch in a limited amount of time. Exercises like this are a great way for kids to learn the value of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, curiosity, and perseverance.”

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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