Kelly: In our last two Catshack articles, we covered the notion of kid safety in big games, and also general safety in the safe-areas (netted staging type areas). This article is a follow-up to both of them, based on some â€˜testingâ€™ of the ideas presented and a closer observance of safe areas.
Last weekend, Matt and I went to our 3rd scenario game. This one was at CPX, called the â€œWindy City Classicâ€. This was our best scenario yet, for both safety and the overall experience. It was a smaller scenario game, and we got to try out a bit of what we wanted around â€œkidâ€™s missionsâ€. But the bottom line is that this scenario game was great, and here is why.
First, knowing one of the commanders, D.J. â€œHonuâ€ Fox, I had asked him if there would be a way that I could have some missions where kids could come with me and Matt – where it would be fun and engaging but still not right in the main battle areas (or mess up any official scores). Things got kicked off early, as D.J. went around during the opening discussion and made mention to kids and parents about coming with me and Matt. So we ended up with a number of kids and some parents coming with us on our missions (D.J. recommended a kind of flanking/ambush fire-team mission). We all had maps (kids love to talk from the little plastic maps as it seems more real), and everyone understood basically what to do. It worked out very well. There were about 40 young kids at this game (maybe 10 through 14 or so), and a number of novice parents with them (sometimes kids playing on their own), and off and on throughout the day we teamed up. Matt and I also had our new Erinâ€™s Army/Klingon Brotherhood jerseys on, which made it easy for the kids to spot us.
The main part of getting this â€œkids missionâ€ going was simple â€“ the CPX folks asked who was here for their first game (from that I made note of kids and parents that were new and later said something to them), D.J. introduced us to a few people as he walked around, and other parents and kids were listening and came up to us and asked if they could come too (not just the younger kids either). D.J. gave us the tactical advice needed to not get in too much trouble (it worked). That was all it took. It didnâ€™t take long before the kids felt how things were working and then just went out on their own and did similar things. It was so easy, yet I think very helpful. By the end of the day they were taking on adults in the main battle. And numerous times throughout the day I saw D.J. telling groups of kids where to position and holdâ€¦ I updated parents I recognized back in the waiting area, who asked lots of questions and were happy that the kids where being engaged like that.
I also introduced the kidâ€™s mission to novice kids and parents having a difficult time getting going (first timers). I walked around to different tables with kids, told them of my mission and that they could just look for me and come along if they wanted. Which led to many questions around â€“ couldnâ€™t get their air tank in, remote line had a leak, many were picking up paintballs dropped in the dirt, do they have to come out if the paint hits and doesnâ€™t break, what about getting hit on your marker, where should they go when hitâ€¦ Answering these really made a difference, and I think more experienced kids would be great at ambassadors going around doing this and making friends.Â Having a special kidâ€™s mission is a good intro discussion point.
Besides the missions to get kids and parents comfortable, there were no safety-net type issues that I could see (CPX was set up nicely). The safe areas were safe (no paint coming in), and when our base area was overrun (happened a few times) it was stopped by refs at the appropriate distance. We re-inserted later where it was safe (they had all this well planned). Getting in and out of battle safely was no issue at all. The refs were really good, authoritative, confident and helpful. That made for an excellent day.
This game was also of a size where we could all see what was happening. Our main general, John â€œLJâ€ Woodley of the Houston Heat, played with everyone constantly. He was everywhere, uncanny in ability, and the kids noticed. D.J. was giving out the orders, sending fire teams this way and that, and was including everyone. The kids also noticed that and really felt a part of the game because of it. There was lots of kid chatter about holding their lines and being in LJâ€™s platoonâ€¦
The whole game had a very positive, friendly feel right from the start. I would say those kids will be asking to play more, get their own markers, and the parents will have no doubt as to why they want to.
Honu: Other then Mikey doing a little dance every time he hit a flag, I think the best part of the game was having around 30-40 first time big game players under the age of 14. From the start of the game nerves and watching their confidence grow throughout the day to the point they were charging the hill in the final battle. Totally worth the day.
A Train: At an event in Massachusetts I was a guest General for, I knew there were going to be a lot of very young players there on my side. So I called up Mike Koker from the New England Avalanche to come to the event because he needed a break from the daily grind of life. I informed him that he would not be gunfighting on the front lines, as I needed him for a more specific mission: babysitting the kids! The kids were excited to see Mike and their local PRO team at the event.
At first, Koker was a bit taken back with me. He took the kids and kept flanking the battle and all the new players and children got many confirmed kills. Mike and the kids had the time of their lives and made lots of friends and memories. First part of the day: â€œTRAIN, Iâ€™M NOT A DAYCARE!” But by the end of the day, “Train…..thank you….one of the best experiences EVER. Can I do it again sometime?” I tricked them all a little bit, but he looked like the pied piper in the woods and he was one of the best “Gunfighting babysitters” you could ask for.
For me it’s about sharing the memories and experiences, and you cannot PUSH A ROPE. A-Train
Kelly: (side-note for dads wanting to give mission command a whirl) – I got to be a â€œsergeantâ€ for the first time, for a platoon of guys (they knew what they were doing), tasked to â€˜hold the left flankâ€™. My command was a bit spotty (it happened before I could think), but we held for long enough. Then we were flanked and were all shot in the back.J
- CPX thought through their safe areas well. Kids (and adults) were well taken care of.
- Having generals like LJ and DJ being very aware of and focused on kids really makes a big difference. This game was unlike others I have played because of that.
- Kids and parents responded well to being included in the pseudo-official missions.
- Kids should have easy access to learning how to be mission leaders and have mission-teams.
- Experienced kid â€œambassadorsâ€ need to help the other kids get started. I think both the veteran kids and the novices will both have a better experience when this happens.
- Make up a simple photo-copy that has a map of the field, name of the scenario game, images of the CO and XO, and encourage the kids to get autographs from those guys.
- Ties them in well with a little souvenir right at the end of a good day and is more â€œevidenceâ€ to the parents of their engagement (and need to return and get their own markersâ€¦) Also write â€˜ordersâ€™ on the map, showing where the mission should go, call it something with â€˜ambush, fire team, recon, attack, sniperâ€™ in it (and be serious about it with some explanation to go with it). It should sound a little scary, about how the line is collapsing and we need the left flank heldâ€¦ This is something to show at school to friends (kid marketing).
- Dads and kids â€“ join Matt and me in Facebook on the Klingon Brotherhood page and be part of our team. We will be doing updates on events we know about with kidâ€™s missions and a good focus on kid safety and engagement, plus reviews that are kid-oriented on fields, games and equipment. You get a Klingon name, and can get a jersey with your name on it that identifies you as a kid ambassador â€“ helping other kids, leading kid missions and training new kid commanders. You can also get a cool air tank with your name and Klingon stuff on it. You will also be part of Erinâ€™s Army, a paintball group helping to fight cancer, and the worldâ€™s largest paintball team.
Plan and play kid missions! You may be surprised about how much fun they are for adults and kids leading them. And how much the kids want to do that again.
Matt:Â In the Windy City Classic I led a scout team mission and this was important because I could see if I was a good player and leader. I had to try really hard so my team would think I was good.
I liked it because it gave me the opportunity to make more friends and they asked me what I did to be the sergeant because they wanted to do that too. Every kid should have a chance to be the leader if they want BUT they need to know what to do. You donâ€™t have to play on an official paintball team, or have walkie-talkies (but theyâ€™re fun). You just have to think about what to do and get a few suggestions from General Fox. Kid leaders can lead the mission teams, but the kids can also show other kids what to do because other kids follow a kid leader better. Next time I want to train other kids. And if LJ joins your team it is really fun. And kids should have ranks too if they are leaders. I want to be a â€˜gunny sergeantâ€™.
But one warning is to not stand out in the open when you are trying to figure out where the enemy is and what you should do. I almost got picked off and you donâ€™t want to leave your team out there on their own too soon.
KELLY: Over the next few weeks, coming up articles â€“ Step by Step Checklist for Kid Missions, Kid-Safety for Air Tanks, Parents Need Branding. In addition, Oct 12/13 at the big game Invasion of Area-51 (2-Day event) in Mancelona, MI, Kelly and Matt will be joining up with A-Train to bring an even more robust version of kidâ€™s missions into play and leading the Kids Krew. So please come and bring the kids to this game.
Comments to email@example.com, and join up at Klingon Brotherhood on Facebook.
Article written by Kelly Wical, Tyler “Gizmo” Carruthers, Cale “Reaper” Heustin, A Train