A non-profit with an unusual spin, the Pinball Outreach Project (POP) opened its doors to the public this spring, in a family-friendly, brick-and-mortar space at 4605 N.E. Fremont St., No. 104, across the courtyard from Smallwares in Beaumont Village.
The non-profit brings the family arcade experience directly to patients and their loved ones at children’s hospitals around the west coast, and the new POP headquarters will make it easier for the public to support these efforts. The enthusiasts and volunteers at POP seek to improve the lives of children by sharing the history and excitement of the game of pinball.
“The city of Portland offers more opportunities to play pinball than any other city in the country,” said Nicole Anne Reik, POP’s executive director. “But there aren’t many places for families, where kids can play in a safe, supportive environment.”
In addition to free-play for children under 13 during specified hours, the public can play games using tokens acquired through donations to the organization.
“It’s something that kids and parents can enjoy together,” said volunteer Greg Dunlap, an enthusiast who has written pinball software for the Pat Lawlor Design company. “It’s not as pattern-oriented as video games, and the mechanics are more random. There’s mechanical engineering, math, physics and lots of science in there.”
This summer, the outreach project is offering a unique summer camp opportunity for children from ages five to 13, in their new Northeast Portland space.
The one week, half-day camp will feature free play, instruction, a technique workshop and competitive tournament action. No previous pinball experience or skills are required and campers will have a chance to play a variety of games and learn insight and techniques from the pros. The camp will feature pinball programmers as well as world-ranked players.
For more information about the outreach project or the camp, visit pinballoutreach.org or call (415) 857-1767.