27 November 2013

Army Combat Party (a fun adventure)

When your kids get older, they start to get very definite ideas about what they want in a birthday party and for the past year all Dash has wanted to do for his 11th birthday is go to Laser Combat (a cross between laser tag and paintball). So an army-themed party it had to be.

With the laser combat part taking up most of the afternoon, I still wanted to have food and hang-out time at home (I do love an at-home party) so wanted to create an Army H.Q. at home where we would assemble before the battle, then regroup for food and cake.

I have to admit I had rather a lot of fun creating this one. The styling had to avoid anything too babyish or cute; it needed to be rugged with a slice of "cool" for a bunch of adventurous 11-year old boys. I think we pulled it off...

[Pallets recycled from the dump - stencil tutorial here; camo duvet cover found on TradeMe for $2;
cargo net from Ali Express with free shipping]
I turned the carport into an Army H.Q. Mess Hall/Rec Room. Stencilled Pallet signs, old canvas camp stretchers, sacking, some camo no-sew bunting and a camouflage cargo net all helped to create a great army atmosphere.

My trusty lemonade stand did duty as a Hydration Station...

[coffee sacks $2 from Geoff's Emporium, camo cups from Kiwi Cakes, Army soda label printables on ginger beer bottles here; genuine army water bottle brought back from China; no-sew bunting tutorial here]

The recruits congregated first at the Army H.Q. where they made use of the Rec Hall (foozeball, soccer) until the convoy was ready to depart for the battlefield. Off to Laser Combat we went.

This is "Magic", the guy who brought Laser Combat to New Zealand. He has created the ultimate place for adventure-loving boys (and girls) in Riverhead Forest.

The legend goes that he's ex-Army (ex-SAS, say the boys, who gaze at him wide-eyed as he gives them their briefing).

As the boys gear up and slap camo on each other's faces you can feel the excitement building. Some of the boys have played before and know they're in for a great adventure. The rookies are excited too; the minute they lay their eyes on those laser guns they realise this is going to be awesome. Me? I'm starting to wish I was playing...

It's just like indoor laser tag; each "soldier" wears  a sensor on their head, which records when you are hit. Each team has a "medic box" which acts as each team's base and records the team's data; when someone is "killed" (after being shot five times) they go back to the medic box and "respawn".

Magic shows the boys how to use the gear, how to stay safe, how to be commandos.
"If you do this, it's all good, but if you do that, it's not good times... not good times at all," he says (and the boys come home quoting him, haha.)

I think this is seriously the coolest game ever. It's like laser tag but without the claustrophobia; like paintball but without the pain. It's the best of both worlds.

[my dad was especially requested by Dash to play laser combat; he's in his late sixties but he had an absolute blast and came back telling of how he lay dead-still in the grass while Mr G stood right over him, hunting him, but not seeing him.]

The two teams did battle while the party slaves had to go home and get the food ready. Sniff. I so wish I could have played. They all came back to base raving about the fun they'd had. Memories were made, people. And the birthday boy finally got his wish.

After all that crawling through the forest playing sniper, those lads were starving hungry by the time they got back to H.Q. So we fed them...

Camouflage cupcakes, army men cookies, chips and "parfaits"; a fruit platter, carrot sticks... and hot dogs (which *oops* exploded in the pot cos I left them in the water too long, so no photos of them).

[camo cupcakes; edible army men lollies from Kiwi Cakes]
I also laid out for the recruits, their stencilled army t-shirts (I found t-shirts online for $2 each, so I couldn't resist doing one for each of them) and hand-stamped metal dog-tags...

I am rather proud of these, and it must be said that the lads thought they were awesome too (and have been observed afterwards wearing them proudly around the place). Just the right amount of army cool...

Before we served cake, Sergeant G couldn't resist challenging the recruits to an impromptu assault course, to test their mettle...

Nothing like a bit of climbing, swinging, crawling and a few pushups on a full stomach...

And finally, it was time to sing happy birthday to our special 11-year-old (it was his actual birthday) and blow out the candles on what one of his pals called "an epic cake".

The cake was a "battlefield" - with camo on the inside. Remarkably simple to do, but so effective (battlefield cake tutorial here)...

All in all a fabulous birthday celebration, and loads of very cool adventurous fun was had by all. (P.S. Magic is making a video for me of the our session at Laser Combat; when it's ready I'll add it in here so you can all see how fab it is)

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