A Boy’s Birthday

IMG_0153This weekend we were scheduled to celebrate my son’s birthday. In lieu of a mini-trip, he elected for me to host a paintball party for him & friends. I got more than I bargained for…. the story to follow.

First, I elected to try this Splatmaster “low-impact” paintball gear that is out now. It professes to be half the distance & speed of traditional paintball markers. I hoped this would be easier on the sub-11-year-olds that would be playing. (Let’s face it, I was also scared of their parents…) The nearest public field is a 5-hour drive, each direction. Instead, I decided to buy a set of 4 markers, so we’d have our own set. This (I told my son) was his present. At $40 each, they weren’t too expensive, but they add up in bulk, with balls, and a mask or two.IMG_0051

With gear ordered, I diverted my attention to details. We had taken the 4-wheeler out in the woods a month ago and scouted locations, so the venue was already set. He jumped at the chance to have a dirt cake, so I obtained my grandma’s recipe from my aunt. (Many thanks, agent Q!) I could do an ENTIRE post on that cake and recipe, but the executive summary is that it was absolutely delicious! Additionally, a plastic planter is much easier to pack into the woods than a sheet cake.

I decided to throw in a Minecraft theme at the last minute, and got some labels for the snacks:

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Carrots with ranch dip, Iron & Gold Ingots (chocolates), and Slimeballs (grapes) would be on the menu.

IMG_0057Weather was unpredictable, as thunder showers had been delaying lawn maintenance all week. I decided to be a Boy Scout and ‘Be Prepared’ by loading the camper on the truck. If stuck in downpours, we’d play cards and sip hot cocoa. I had already picked up one friend on Friday and (grabbing the other two) we headed out to our destination. I hailed a friend on my radio first, letting him know I was heading into the woods, alone, with four boys and should be back by dinner.IMG_0150

Upon our arrival, we marked out the playing territory. A perfect “V” between old logging roads provided just the right amount of vegetation, and flagging ribbon marked the top edge. After a safety briefing on how to handle the markers, we did a couple test shots before starting the first round. Each round offered me a brief chance to tend to camp business, so I was able to setup the canopy, table, grill, condiments, etc. It didn’t take long before they took a break to consume healing and swiftness potions (Gatorade).

IMG_0103After lunch, and a few more rounds, we did cake and presents… followed by even more rounds of paintball. Each kid got at least one team round with every other kid, in addition to an ‘FFA’ (free-for-all) round. In all, 4 single-shot, pump-action markers consumed over 500 rounds! (Here I had thought there were plenty…) The weather was PERFECT all day, with spots of over cast and filtered sun, with a soft steady breeze throughout.

We packed up and left after about 5 hours, thoroughly spent. After dropping of one boy, I let my friend know we were back in town, safe and sound. The guests got feisty in the back seatIMG_0163, while my son passed out on the way back. That night I crafted burgers to go with our fresh corn, and grilled up a feast. One friend was sleeping over for the weekend, and another was getting picked up later that night.

The adventurous weekend didn’t end there, so stay tuned for another post. Please forgive the scant photos, as I’m leery of posting other kids’ faces without permission. Adieu!

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