July 29th 2012
Written by Kelly Wical
Kelly gives us some great advice!
KELLY: While I didn’t receive a lot of comments, I think there is a theme to them, and they tie in well to what I have heard a number of times. To paraphrase:
EXPERIENCED PLAYER: “Send the meatheads over to me and my friends, while you go play with the others”
NOVICE DAD: (Played one time with son and could not walk the next day): “I can’t keep up with the kids! Where can they play that I don’t have to worry?
EXPERIENCED PLAYER: “Kids are the lifeblood of the sport, so we need to ensure that they are kept safe”
EXPERIENCED PLAYER: “Don’t bring kids to big game” is an outrageous attitude
The first comment (referring to the separation of meatheads and kids) and the second really speak to the heart of this follow-up, which is to create a safer, better role-play environment in scenarios for kids.Â The other two comments above are why I am spending my time writing these articles.
Living Legends V was mine and Matt’s first scenario game. I was lucky enough to know Tina GoldenGirl Ruzzo, who introduced me to D. J. Honu Fox, XO of LL3 and MVP of LL4. As I knew nothing about scenarios, I could not really do much with DJ and the Hellions so instead I jumped into the role play mode with DJ as the General commanding the fire team that Matt and I would do. Matt was introduced to General Fox, and along with two other 12 year olds that we met wandering around, the kids received maps with fire missions (drawn up by D.J.) for us to follow. So for the next couple days at LL5, we were interpreting the mission and executing to it (or our interpretation). Afterwards, we had pictures with parents of the kids and DJ, autographs, and just a great time talking about how we must have helped win the day. Our missions and play, while not part of the official LL5, were none-the-less just as immersed and fun. Here is a picture the parents were taking after the Klingon 1st Recon reported back to General Fox at the end of the day.
So my intent with this is to use that experience as a go-by for others. It worked for me and the kids very well. I hope that it can become formalized, replicated and become a real part of future scenarios at fields that want to do more with kids/families.
Here is a summary of the steps that seem to make sense to set-up and execute a safe, role-playing environment for kids:
- Create a web site or Facebook page that specifically promotes the scenario to the kids and parents, and also provides a blog for them to feel comfortable asking questions at the novice level. The site should include a checklist and materials for parents to prepare the kids for their roles in the scenario. The idea is to create a connection between the parent, kids, and field/game long before the game day arrives. Involve the parents and make the parents comfortable with safety and a sense that the kids are in good hands.
- Post the field map, clearly identifying kid-only areas (special mission areas as well as general cover-fire areas for the main game), and all the possible missions (the exact missions and timing are known only to the commanders when the kid-platoon heads out from staging). Basic play should ensure that the larger side will attack and patrol, while the smaller side will snipe and ambush. Also, ask for and assign kids to positions, who wants to be the medic, communications, patrol, sniper, cover fire, point, All you need to do is follow the style of a Hollywood movie. They get it. Examples of these will be coming in the Facebook group Pb-safety/Scenarios-Info. If you would like to keep up with marketing type example ideas, please join the group.
- Get some volunteer platoon leaders (ie experienced parents, players) who will lead the kids and role-play, so they can be referred to specifically in pre-game correspondence and become familiar to the kids and parents before the event. This role is critical to the overall experience of the kids and their paintball future.
- Pre-plan a number of missions that should get you through the game. The platoon leaders should not have to make them up. They could be recycled if needed if there are not enough different ones. Once I get a volunteer field I will make some.
- Each mission of the platoon should have a couple words from the XO for realism. XOs already do this it seems to the main troops. Just need a good kid-version.
- Parents should not be part of any kid-area battles. They could watch from a distance or parent volunteers could be under the command of the platoon leader to help as needed but cannot be allowed to interfere.
- Each platoon should have a medic (to help keep kids in a bit longer if needed), and the platoon leaders should determine when the objective is reached and the mission should end and all surviving players would go back to staging.
- Make it clear to the kids about what they do when they are hit so they go back to the same place, wait for buddies or just go into the next mission/platoon.
- Platoon leaders from each side should be in constant contact and help ensure realism and safety. Each platoon could be named and stats kept for it on what it did. Take a picture of each platoon and assign it a name, before it goes out on its mission. Names could be pre-arranged or named by the kids.
- After the game, have XOs sign maps with missions; platoon leaders should promote the XO role getting the kids to show honor and respect, saying yes sir, answering up loud, take pictures after.. This is for the parents.
- Keep things informal and comfortable after the event, this allows parents and kids to mill around in some area with platoon leaders/ambassador types who help solidify the kidsâ€™ fun to the parents. The parents need to be able to get committed right there to their kids ongoing paintball future fun.
I have done a small version of these steps at LL5 and it worked out very well. I think that a lot of parents have done something similar. We just need to enable all parents and kids to enjoy it.
Matt’s Safety Net
MATT: I liked that there is a main battle and then there are sub battles so if you don’t like the main battle you can join a sub battle. It’s mostly safe everywhere except in the main battle. Below are comments from kids I talk to. We all think the same and want to play more as part of the game but it really doesn’t work out so well because we cant figure out what is going on and what we should do. And at the end it got kind of boring because it was just the same thing over and over. We didn’t get to do any of the things (missions) others were talking about. Next time I want to lead snipers.
Comments from kids I talk to:
NOVICE KID: How do we play like everyone else?
NOVICE KID: We had no idea what missions where and were not included.
EXPERIENCED KID: I want to play sniper.
NOVICE KID: Can I be in a tank?
EXPERIENCED KID: I want to be a sergeant and command.
NOVICE KID: We didn’t know where to go and what to do.
NOVICE KID: I want to be on a helicopter
EXPERIENCED KID: Where is the beginners area?
KELLY: To sum it up:
The above comments show the kind of interest kids have. They want to play and they want to do what the adult players are doing. Just in a slightly different, safer way that we have to create.
EXPERIENCED PLAYER: The point is guys, we need the kids and if they get injured, they aren’t going to play, so let’s step up to the plate, sacrifice our personal pride and go out of our way to keep these guys safe!
I think this article and many others like it speak to what paintball is about teaching and practicing good, healthy programs with our kids. This is opposite the life of the Colorado maniac and the ill-informed at Inside Edition, who must need some of this help themselves. Sports like paintball and martial arts are about the honor, respect, responsibility, leadership, parenting and participation that really help kids grow up with excellent character.
The next article will be more specific to an individual safety topic – Safe/Staging Area Awareness
Catshack Reports: Thank you once again Kelly for stepping up to the plate! It is terrific to get these pointers and advice from a Paintball Father so willing to give back and help the future of our sport.. Great job and keep up the good work,, it will pay off! Golden Girl