Video game day camp in Spokane Valley offers fun, friendship, entertainment during Christmas break

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At Sullivan Square Shopping Center in Spokane Valley lies Elite Gaming Center, where adults and children alike go to play video games and tabletop sports games like air hockey and ping-pong. Alongside its regular operating hours, the facility hosts birthday parties, corporate events and even offers a weekly day camp for summer and winter breaks.

While a day camp offering video games as the primary activity might sound antithetical to what camps typically seek to accomplish, co-owners Daniel and Michelle Michalski believe the communal setting to be the defining characteristic of Elite Gaming Center.

“While we do play video games for half the day, we also have a big open space with ping-pong, air hockey, foosball, cornhole, chess, checkers and even a Nerf arena,” said Daniel. “The kids are kids – they’re just as excited to play those games on the turf area as they are to play video games.”

Elite Gaming Center has 30 PCs, nine gaming consoles and five VR headsets, as well as a Nerf arena and a stage ideal for presenting and running tournaments, which is done no less than once a week when the Eastern Washington Super Smash Bros Alliance holds its tournaments there each Sunday.

While most tournaments feature fighting games, the most popular titles overall at the facility are Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox, Halo, Counter-Strike, Fall Guys and Apex Legends – a good mix of cooperative and competitive games with a heavy emphasis on multiplayer and the camaraderie that naturally springs from it.

First opening its doors in April 2022, Elite Gaming Center is owned and operated by Daniel and Michelle, who are the parents of two boys, ages 10 and 12.

“We brought a lot of our parenting into this business,” Daniel said. “So many parents nowadays just don’t get a break. You can bring your kid and drop them off or come as a family.”

Accessibility and affordability is a primary focus for Elite Gaming Center, and its summer and winter day camps were part of Daniel and Michelle’s plan from the beginning.

“Day camps were always exorbitantly expensive, so the idea was to create a safe place that’s affordable compared to other private day camps,” Daniel said.

“The kids can have a good time and build relationships with other kids. We’re giving back to the community to bring something we know can help parents across Spokane and Spokane Valley,” he added.

The friendships formed also create regulars, Michelle said.

“Often the first people at the door are previous campers who’ve already built relationships with each other,” she said.

Above all, Michelle said she is proudest of the community they’ve built.

Their own children have played a pivotal role in the inspiration and direction of the company. Daniel’s proudest accomplishment is “being able to have my kids see us run a business, be successful and make a difference in other peoples’ lives.”

Located on the corner of Sprague Avenue and Sullivan Road, adjacent to Flying Squirrel Trampoline Park, Michelle calls the location of Elite Gaming Center “really lucky.” Foot traffic is minimal, as according to Daniel, “Spokane Valley is a suburb that has suburbs,” but the family presence and word-of-mouth is strong – ideal for a family- and kid-friendly business.

Elite Gaming Center features summer and winter day camps during the respective school breaks, available to children ages 7-15. On those days, the facility opens early at 8 a.m. and the camps run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“The capacity is currently 15 kids each week,” Daniel said. “But that may change in the future as we add more counselors.”

Daniel said both camps this past summer and the one before it were “chock full every day,” while the winter camp has more open slots.

“Last year we only had about five kids each week. There’s more of a chance for parents to take time off than the summer,” Daniel said. “But I also know parents who can’t, and we’re there for them. We’re one of the only winter camps that I know of in the area.”

Elite Gaming Winter Day Camp 2023 runs from Dec. 18-29. Week 1 costs $250, while Week 2 is pro-rated to $200 on account of the facility being closed on Christmas Day.

“While we are a video game camp, there’s a lot more that goes on,” Daniel said. “If nothing else, it’s about making friends for life.”

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