One of Corvin’s classmates had his birthday party at Wacky Warriors. Its a paintball field in the St. Louis area. It ended up being about 10 kids and their dads for the day. There was palpable excitement around the kids. The dads were playing too. I was nervous with that many kids having guns, but with a 1 to 1 dad ratio, it was well under control. The first thing was to pay, sign the waver to the effect of “you’ll probably be maimed for life, but its not our fault”. After waivers, we were issued the equipment of a gun and mask. To no surprise after years of abuse, none of the masks had a clear view out of them. The kids complained, but there was nothing to do about it.
For the first game, the kids wanted to go against the dads. After we split up teams and each went to our sides, the game started. It didn’t take me too long to be shot by none other than my son. He laughed and I went off the field. However, there was little help for the kids from the rest of the dads. The kids were quickly picked off until just my son was left behind a barricade. Rather than giving up, he tried to fight off at least 5 dads until he put his head up to look around and took a shot to the mask and the game was over.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the mess. Corvin came out crying with fragments of paintball in his mouth and the pain of loss. Several other kids were crying for the pain of impact from paintballs. After a longer recovery time before the next match, the kids wanted to be mixed in with dads to make the game more fair. I’ll only note it here that there wasn’t a single game where at least 1 kid wasn’t crying in pain from getting hit…
After a lunch break we went back out to the fields for more. The kids forgot during lunch how badly they lost the first game and wanted to do kids vs. dads for capture the castle round. So split up, the kids were inside the castle and the dads set to attack it. As soon as the whistle blew, I took a chance and sprinted directly for the castle and ran in without being shot or shooting a single shot and won the game for the dads. The kids wanted to try again, so the scenario was reset and the kids ready for a full frontal assault.
For castle part 2, I went around the edges of the playing field to get to the castle from the back. Near the very back of the playing field and almost ready to vector in on the castle, I found a kid in the path and took a few shots, running up asking if they wanted to surrender. It turns out that the kid was Corvin. He was crying/hiding saying that he didn’t want to play or get shot anymore. I felt bad for him and luckily didn’t shoot him. Then he tagged along while that round was concluded, my prisoner.
Overall, it was a fun time for the dads and the kids mostly had fun, but were not happy once shot. I’m not sure I would recommend paintball for 4th graders…