This is an opinion editorial by Tali Lindberg, a mother, the co-founder of Free Market Kids and host of “Orange Hatter: Bitcoin Podcast For Busy Women.”
Typically, Bitcoin meetups come in two types: “BitDevs” and “plebs.” In the former, coders gather to discuss technical developments in the Bitcoin ecosystem, and the discussions are heavy with jargon and intricate concepts. In the latter, Bitcoin enthusiasts gather to discuss current events in the Bitcoin space and offer beginner-friendly workshops. In our travels, my husband Scott and I have attended many of both types of meetings.
Yet, recently, we found ourselves at a meetup that turned the typical rulebook on its head. Allow me to take you on a journey through that evening and perhaps inspire your own Bitcoin groups to do something similar.
‘This Is Going To Be Different!’
When Scott and I pulled up to a meetup venue in Winchester, Virginia, we were greeted by two little girls giggling at the door. They pointed at us, waved, and then scampered back inside. Scott and I smiled and thought, “This is going to be different!”
Walking in a few moments later, we were again greeted by something unusual. There was a cacophony of drum beats and loud notes banged out on a small grand piano at the front of the room, opposite the entryway. The same two girls who waved at us at the door enthusiastically announced, “We’re doing a concert!”
The two of them laughed and wiggled in their seats, heads bobbing from side to side in time with their own music.
The event organizer, Gary Krause of the Shenandoah Bitcoin Club, walked toward us, holding out his hand, welcoming us to the meetup that night.
He explained that several families had RSVP’d for family game night and, despite the rain, he hoped we would get a good turnout. While we chatted and waited for the guests to arrive, one of the 5-year-old girls grabbed both of my hands and pulled me to the front of the room where she danced and pirouetted on tiptoes with her hands held high above her head, forming an arc.
“Come on, follow me! You can do it!” her little voice encouraged me. The other little girl banged on the piano as the impromptu accompanist.
The first family to arrive came with a baby and a 3-year-old. The baby was immediately whisked away from mama’s arms by a family friend who cooed and bounced the baby while the adults greeted each other. The baby’s older brother approached the little girls who had stopped performing by now and the three of them shared an instant understanding of a secret game and darted away.
One by one, more families came. More kids. More noise. More laughter. And we hadn’t even started playing games yet!
‘I Wish These Were Real Bitcoins!’
When pizzas had been delivered and we were all seated, I looked around and realized there were more children than adults at this Bitcoin meetup. Their ages ranged the full spectrum of childhood: from wide-eyed 1-year-old to mature 17-year-old.
We set up two game tables. I wasn’t sure how it would work, with some of the kids being so young. At my table, the kids’ ages ranged from 5 to 9. I explained how to play “HODL UP” the best way I could to such a young audience. Thankfully, there were two parents standing by to help explain the game to their kids. The youngest ones didn’t last long. Very quickly, they grew tired of listening to the rules and asked to be excused. My table was left with two adults and three kids from ages 7 to 9. At Scott’s table, the kids were aged 13 and up.
The game began, and the kids quickly grasped the concepts. After just a few hands, they knew that getting their bitcoin into cold storage was the only way to protect their earnings. They played good naturedly and reacted with exuberant exclamations and disappointments when they won or lost their bitcoin.
The boy who sat next to me repeatedly said, “I wish these were real bitcoins!” pointing to the tokens piled on his wallet card. Isn’t that what every Bitcoiner hopes to hear from their kids: that they want to HODL some real bitcoin?!
At the other table, where the older kids were playing with several adults, the wins and losses evoked even louder responses! Their game lasted longer, as each player was intent on winning and took their time evaluating strategies.
When both games ended, all the kids dispersed. The older kids pulled out their phones, the younger kids left the table to run around the room and the baby had been passed to yet another doting family friend who was lying on the floor, holding the baby above her head in a Superman pose.
The adults, who learned the game mechanics and strategies from the first game, were engaged in a new game, determined to HODL even more bitcoin in their second attempt.
Taking in the scene around me, it felt as though I had stepped into a heartwarming Hallmark movie. What made this evening truly extraordinary was the inclusivity. Families stayed together, chaotic as it was. The children weren’t asked to sit quietly or sent to another room. Bitcoin, in all its complexity, was demystified through a simple game in the most natural, family-friendly setting. There were no stern lectures about how bad our fiat system is, how the government is printing money or how bitcoin has a volatile dollar-exchange rate.
A simple yet crucial takeaway for everyone that night was to secure their bitcoin in cold storage. No lectures, just a fun-filled evening where even the youngest of players learned the most critical of lessons.
Bitcoin Is For Everyone
Returning from Virginia, Scott and I hosted a family fun event at the park with our Bitcoin meetup, the Kentuckiana Bitcoin Club. Instead of having our meeting at a pub, restaurant or office, we chose to have it at a local park where there is a playground and a volleyball court. While the setting made it a bit challenging to hear a wonderful Zoom presentation about Bolt 12, it was great for the families of Bitcoiners to meet. The children dashed back and forth from the playground to the table where the adults were sitting, and that was fine. Kids learn through osmosis. Our job is always just to plant the seeds. Who knows how the seeds will be watered and how long it will take for them to germinate? We just know that our job is to plant seeds, especially with kids.
So, what’s the takeaway here? How can your Bitcoin meetup involve your families? Instead of the meetup taking daddy/mommy away for a few hours every week or month, what if the whole family were involved? What if the spouses met each other and the kids played together?
I’m not suggesting that all Bitcoin meetings involve the whole family. There is certainly a place for technical debates and current event discussions, but perhaps every once in a while (once a quarter or twice a year), the families can come together. After all, Bitcoin is for everyone. We ought to scatter and plant seeds far and wide, beginning in our own homes, with our own families.
This is a guest post by Tali Lindberg. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.