NERF Wars: Tips and Resources for parties at home to big youth events

One of the most popular events we have for our 5th-6th graders is our NERF WARS nights.  We hold them once in the fall and once in the late winter/early spring.  I’ve seen a ton of other churches doing these nights for their students, as well as families doing this in a smaller scale for a birthday party or just fun time for their kids with friends.

Since I have benefitted so much from others, I’d like to pull back the curtain and reveal some of my favorite resources as well as a few tips if you are interested in having a NERF War event.

4EY97_AS01Tip #1: Safety Glasses

Whenever you are playing NERF, require students to wear safety glasses.  You are shooting darts.  At least one person will get shot in the face – even if it’s by accident.  Safety glasses are a must.  But you don’t have to spend a fortune.  We found these for about $2 each and bought a bulk amount.  We have been reusing them for years.

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Tip #2: Learn from others

Kenny Campbell has a great NERF Wars event kit that he has used in his own ministry.  As well as a NERF cup shootout game that you could use anytime, not just at a big event.  Check out his resources and then do an online search or ask around.  You might be surprised who locally has done one of these events and may have some wisdom for you.  For example, I found this NERF wiki with a ton of great tips and suggestions for variations on NERF Wars.

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Tip #3: Go to the Source

NERF wants kids to have fun with their products and buy more.  So they have put a fun, digital playbook online.  You can click through here and choose which type of blaster and whether you want to play with one person or a group.  Then it gives you a quick explanation video followed by a bulleted list of instructions.  Use these as-is or modify them, whether you are using these at your house or a big event in tournament or station form.

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Tip #4: Promotion

I found this great FREE logo online that you can download and customize for your event.

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Tip #5: Perfect Videos

If you haven’t heard of Dude Perfect yet, you should check them out.  When it comes to NERF Wars, whether you simply build up some excitement with their NERF Blaster video, NERF Blasters Battle video or challenge students to recreate their own Dude Perfect NERF moment, you can’t beat the hype they bring.

Referee

Tip #6: Tournament Refs on the Same Page

We learned the hard way what happens when you have a NERF War tournament going on in multiple zones and the referees have different “house rules.”  So, learn from my mistake and save yourself some upset preteens!  Make sure that the rules are simple and that everyone operating as a referee understands them.  It’s best to send them a copy of the rules and their responsibilities ahead of time.  Then, meet with them before the event to talk through the rules and be clear about any hypothetical situations.

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Tip #7: Provide All the Ammo

Nothing ruins a great NERF War more than all the whining and complaining when everyone can’t find exactly each and every dart they came with to the event.  So, do yourself a favor and provide all the ammo.  You can buy regular darts from NERF in packs of 75 for about $13.  The Mega darts come in packs of 10 for $5.  This is why we charge students $5 for our NERF Wars.  It covers two slices of pizza and restocking of ammo.  I also suggest picking up a few blasters for the kids who have one that breaks, don’t bring one, or bring one that doesn’t work with your ammo.

I hope this helps you whether you are planning a birthday party at your house or a big event at your church.  Make sure you take notes after you have your event so you’ll know what to adapt, change and improve for your next one.  This is definitely one event you can repeat and the excitement will still be there!

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Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss . . . and Thanks for Horton!

As a young child, I loved to read.  One of my favorite authors was – and still is – Dr. Seuss!  His creativity both visually and with words was unique and fun.  I enjoyed reading his stories over and over again.  Today, March 2 – would have been his 111th birthday!  In honor of the man born Theodore Seuss Geisel, I’d like to share this post with you.

The Older I Get, The More I Like Horton

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One of my favorite lines from this book is when Horton says,

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

He’s talking about the “Who’s” in “Whoville.”  He makes a great point: It doesn’t matter the literal size or the supposed significance of a person, each one has priceless value.

As a follower of Jesus, this character seems to echo the true words that described how God created the first people – and how all of us carry God’s image in us.

 

“So God created human beings in his own image.  In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

Genesis 1:27, New Living Translation

And which is reflected later by Paul, as he wrote this description of what God has and does do in us as we choose to follow Jesus:

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Ephesians 2:10, New Living Translation

 As a Christian, these words encourage me to see the value Jesus has placed on me and on every single other person in the world.  As a husband, these words remind me of the priceless value God has placed on my wife and how I need to honor and care for her.  As a father, these words remind me of the limitless value God has placed on my children, reminding me that even though I can’t comprehend it, God loves them more than me, but has somehow still trusted me to help raise them to know and follow Jesus.  And as a pastor, these words remind me of how much God loves every single person and how much I need to grow in seeing them, not through my human eyes, but through His eyes.

You can read all about the background of this story and its connection with post-World War II Japan here.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Marcus Ashley Fine Art Gallery in Lake Tahoe, California.  While there, I enjoyed their wonderful collection of Dr. Seuss art.  I was a little child all over again!  There were lots of things I expected: prints and drawings of various Dr. Seuss books.

And then there were things I didn’t expect but should have, especially the taxidermy collection.  Here are a few of the pieces I really enjoyed and would loved to have purchased to put up around my office.  (Can you imagine the faces of students, parents and anyone else who walked in and saw these on my wall?!)

The gallery reports the following about these creations:

In 1938 Paul Jerman, who had graduated from Dartmouth with Ted, wrote a brief biography of him for the alumni newspaper. Jerman said in part, “Another iron in the fire is what the doctor himself calls The Seuss System of Unorthodox Taxidermy. Not satisfied with drawing strange beasties, Ted modeled the heads of some of his animals and mounted them. Put on display in bookshops around New York to promote And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, many people wanted to buy the weird animal heads.”

Shortly after Ted created this unique collection of artworks, Look Magazine dubbed Dr. Seuss “The World’s Most Eminent Authority on Unheard-Of Animals.” To this day, Ted’s Collection of Unorthodox Taxidermy remains as some of the finest examples of his inventive and multidimensional creativity.

At several thousand dollars a piece, I’d have a hard time justifying the expense to have one of these.  I am surprised that no company has won the rights to produce these at a lower cost for those of us who would enjoy having these creative mounts on our walls without the extravagant price tag.

And then, I spent a good deal of time admiring one piece in particular: a bronze maquette of Horton from Horton Hears a Who.

horton1
HORTON HEARS A WHO! – MAQUETTE Inspired by Dr. Seuss’s character and created by artist Leo Rijn.

The last I checked, the price tag was just over $6,000!  An amazing artwork inspired by Dr. Seuss and created by Leo Rijn.

There are similar, cheaper versions out there.  But I like the idea of a valuable piece of art representing a story about the value each person has – and should have.

Whether you are reading this on Dr. Seuss’ birthday or on another random day in the year, may we all remember the value of the people around us.

As I look into the eyes of preteens and middle schoolers, I want them to see and hear someone who believes that they are a person of extraordinary value and potential, no matter how small the world may tell them they are – in size or significance.

As I look into the eyes of my three children, I want them to see a father who looks on them knowing they are created in God’s image, resembling their heavenly Father in so many more ways than they resemble their earthly mother and father.

As I look into my wife’s eyes, I want her to know that I see in her the masterpiece that God has created her to be, and that I will cherish her all the days of my life.

And as I live as a follower of Jesus, this children’s story helps me remember that God has a special place in His heart for those that others see as of little significance.  Jesus encouraged parents to bring their children to him, even when his own followers though they weren’t important enough for his time. (Mark 10:13-15) And I need to see each person as one of limitless value – whether I meet them face to face, come across their postings on social media, or only hear about them.  Because, after all, “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Creative Faith-Based Conversations for Thanksgiving, Part 4

(This is the fourth in a series of four posts.  See the original post here.)

4. Finally, the facts. Students may get some of this at church or school, but you can do a little research and talk about the original Thanksgiving.

The History Channel website has lots of good resources, including videos, you could watch to get informed or watch with your kids.

If you want to have resources that are specifically faith-based, check out the videos on WorshipHouseMedia’s site. They have both serious and funny videos that churches, children’s, and youth ministries often use. You can watch the videos for free on their site.

As you engage the historical story behind Thanksgiving, you might find many interesting ways to discuss faith based concepts.

You can talk about the community relationships and the gratitude at that first Thanksgiving with our relationships with others in our family and church today.  All of this would reference back to Acts 2 again very well.

So, as you can see, there is a cornucopia of opportunities to turn this Thanksgiving holiday into a significant opportunity for passing on faith from parents to children.  Like the delicious Thanksgiving meal itself, it just takes a little planning and preparation!

 


This was originally posted as a blog post I wrote for parentministry.net and can be found here: http://parentministry.net/2014/11/4-creative-faith-based-conversations-for-thanksgiving/

Creative Faith-Based Conversations for Thanksgiving, Part 3

(This is the third in a series of four posts.  See the original post here.)

3. Third, the friends: On Thanksgiving Day families typically spend time together sharing a feast.  But when family time is over, there a ton of leftovers.

What if you had a “Leftover Feast” with the friends that you would consider your Christian community?  Allowing your kids to see people besides your family that honor God and offer thanks to Him during this holiday will only reinforce the spiritual significance of it.  Besides, you’ll get to eat more Turkey.

 


This was originally posted as a blog post I wrote for parentministry.net and can be found here: http://parentministry.net/2014/11/4-creative-faith-based-conversations-for-thanksgiving/