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.


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.


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.


Tip #4: Promotion

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


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.


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.


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!

Favorite Apps (as of today)

A friend of mine asked me what “three to five” of my favorite apps are right now.  I started listing them and came up with about 30!  So, here they all are in one big blog post.  (I’ll also be posting these individually on my Facebook and twitter accounts over the next few days.)  These are in no particular order.  They are just my “go to” apps right now.  Most of these are used on my iPad.  A few are specific to the iPhone.  Many are available on both and on other platforms.  (I could write about each of them, but you know you just want to click on the link and see for yourself.  So check my favorites out and add a comment with what you would add to this collection.)  (Images are screenshots from the Apple Store as of this posting.)






OmniFocus for iPad






Paper by 53


Haiku Deck
















Olive Tree Bible Study


Accordance Bible




Rory’s Story Cubes


Action Bible




iAnnotate PDF




ProPresenter Remote




Heads Up!/id623592465?mt=8




DMD Panorama

iPhone Specific Apps


OmniFocus for iPhone





Apps That Are New to Me









Family Game Night App: Heads Up!

(Special thanks to my friend in preteen ministry J.C. Thompson for sharing this resource with me.  You can find his blog at

There’s a new 99 cent app out that can make magic happen by allowing your family to actually use their electronic devices to bring them together for a night of family fun!

There is a video that comes on the first time you open the app explaining how to play.

From then on, you simply pick one of the included decks.  If you have young kids at home, I encourage downloading the free “Just for Kids” deck.

When you tap on the deck, it explains how to play that game, and another option to raise the difficulty if that would make it more fun for you.

New decks can be purchased for 99 cents each.

When you click “play”, you hold the iPhone or iPad up to your forehead to others can see the screen.

Everyone else can see the answer they are trying to get you to guess.

They give you clues while you try to guess.

Get it right, flick in down and back up for the next clue to pop up and to give you a point for the correct answer.

Stuck and can’t figure it out?  Flick it up and back down to pass.

A additional feature and fun-factor is that your device records video using the front-facing camera of everyone giving you clues!  So if that turns out to be hilarious, you can save a copy or share it on Facebook!

You can find out more about the app on Apple’s website here:!/id623592465?mt=8

I’m looking forward to playing this game with my family this weekend!  And you can be sure we’ll be playing this game at our 56 Game Night and 78 Game Nights this school year!

(for details on those, check out and

Wacky Weekend: 2012 November


Here are a few highlights from this past weekend.

Wacky Countdown & Story of Thanksgiving

We started things off with a wacky countdown that showed a turkey being “hunted” by a pilgrim, with a funny ending at the Thanksgiving meal.

Then, we included a fun, short video that told the story of Thanksgiving . . . basically.

The Interlude

We’ve done this dance before, but had shelved it for a while.  Sometimes, a fun factor is about bringing something back again.  Not everyone is a huge interlude fan.  However, in an “all-play” activity like a crazy group dance, this one incorporated movement, energy, interaction, and just-plain-fun!  Here’s the backstory article to the dance:

You can watch the instructional video to dance along at home here:

(Special thanks to Jay Reynolds, Middle School Team Player at Hope Community Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, for introducing this to me.  And special thanks to  Dave Harris and Steve Stone of digitalstache for putting together these resources to compliment the dance!)

Lions (Slinky)
We introduced the students and leaders to a fun song about how God is greater than anything in this world. It’s called Lions. However, you will probably call it “That Slinky Song”.  After watching this video, you’ll understand.
You can also download the song here on iTunes: Lions
And you can check out more about the band, their ministry, and purchase resources on their website: speedwood
I referenced one of the band members, Michael, battling cancer.  Here’s their “kickstarter” video that tells his story:  (The live double cd they talk about is now done and available here:
Brain Breaks
On Saturday, we did some games from Brain Breaks, by the good folks at Cranium.  I keep one of these in my office for inspiration and fun.  I recommend having one of these around your house whether it’s a family game night or just 15 minutes you want to fill with interaction instead of passing like ships in the night.  Cranium describes Brain Breaks as: “With more than 200 games that can be played in 60 seconds or less, families race to beat the timer using classic guessing, acting, sketching, sculpting and word-puzzling skills.”  Yeah, that’s about right.  Check it out!

Look Up Look Down

We played a simple game that you could play with your family, maybe even in a vehicle on a long road-trip, although I recommend the driver not play.  Here are the instructions.  We didn’t include the scream option . . . this time.

Make It Rain

Sunday morning, we even made it rain in the Student Ministries Center!  (Don’t worry, no one got wet.)  This may not work so well with just your family, but if you get a chance to do this with a large group it is tons of fun.  Here’s a video I found of it being done “choir style.”  I do have to say, their version of thunder sounds better than ours did.  I first did this when I was in middle school and love leading it with a crowd whenever I have the chance.

There are other things I did that aren’t as easy to share.  Hopefully, you’ve found something fun here for your family, ministry, job, etc.!  As you can see from my links, I collect ideas from lots of different people and places.  Sometimes being creative or wacky is more about finding some great idea than it is trying to develop something on your own.  However, I have found that as I interact with others and process their ideas, that process often leads to some of the best original ideas I have had.  Enjoy and be wacky!

A Note About Images

(A note about the turkey picture.  I found some great pictures looking through Flickr using  Every time I used an image, I included a note somewhere on the image with credit to who took the picture or created the image.  On some of our posters, I even contacted the individual if I wasn’t clear what their permissions were for their image.  Everyone was very helpful!  A little help is never far away!  By the way, parents, this can be a great tool to get images for school projects that really stand out in the crowd!  Always remember to credit the source and ask for permission.)

Below are some of the images we used to promote the November Wacky Weekend.