Caine’s Arcade And The Cardboard Dreams

Have you heard of the Cardboard Dreams in Singapore ?
Bunch of mums, dozens of kids, and mountains of cardboards
Congregating under the morning sun
on Children’s Day 5 Oct at the Singapore Botanic Garden
building something out of cardboards and imagination
to celebrate creativity
in the name of play

All inspired by this little kid who goes by Caine
who lives in a little suburb town
near the big city of Los Angeles in the US of A

A boy who built himself an arcade centre during last summer vacation
with used cardboard lying around his dad’s used auto parts store
inspired by a basketball hoop on a pizza box

He had it all thought out
from ticketing, cashier, pricing to prizes and fun passes
but he didn’t know marketing
So, people walked past him and his arcade
oblivious to the greatness behind

No matter that people thought how silly he was to be making games out of used cardboards
He continued to work on his arcade, adding new machines by the day, making it bigger and better
No matter that people said no and walked away from his request to play
He continued to wait patiently in his little chair
For he believed that it was not a matter of if
but a matter of when he will get his first customer

And finally one day, his wish came true
His first customer, a down and out film maker
who came by the store in search of a door handle for his 1996 corolla
who saw extraordinary out of this ordinary boy’s arcade
and decided to make a Youtube video to tell and share the story
The video went viral

Some Harvard professor called him a genius
Some say that Caine will have a bright future as an engineer in MIT
Some say we should all learn creativity from him
Some tout him as the future of entrepreneurship

His name became synonomous with the often discussed
but even more often misunderstood concept of creativity

And in his name, they started Global Cardboard Challenge
and launched the Imagination Foundation

You don’t get a Youtube video that goes viral everyday, do you ?
and so, this sets me thinking

I saw not a genius, but a silly little boy
like so many silly little boys out there
With big dreams, big hearts but small hands
who yawned in boredom when interviewed by some intellectual academic

Was it about creativity?
Was it about having dreams?
Or was it about being able to turn dreams into reality?

About perseverance and staying the course even when the going gets tough
About mental discipline and the ability to grit your teeth and get it done
About doing what you believe and believing in what you do

So, my 8 year old has finally managed to pen down his design for the cardboard challenge
complete with comets, asteroids, the oort cloud and the kuiper belt
But like so many great ideas out there
they will probably remain just ideas…on paper

Because till now, I am still trying to teach
that extraordinary quality of Caine
of turning dreams into reality


Note : Hop over to Sarah’s site to read more about the Cardboard Dreams or RSVP here to join in the fun on 5 Oct at the Singapore Botanic Garden



  1. Pamela Tan says:

    I’m starting to realise that this prose poem way of writing is your writing style! So cool! 🙂 I love Caine’s video. But your post is the best rendition of his story I have read to date 🙂 Lovely!

    • malmal says:

      thanks Pamela for dropping by and leaving a note, a rather encouraging one 🙂 I am not sure whether u call this poem…but it is the best way for me to express myself … and I am glad u enjoyed reading it

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