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.

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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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Creative: Make the Ordinary Unusual

Not too long ago, I sat in an airport and looked up at a row of clocks on the wall much like those in the photo here.

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(Photo taken by Marilyn M.  Originally posted here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/moomoo/1689209721/)

An idea had its seeds planted with that sight.

When I was younger, I watched the movie Dead Poets Society, where Mr. Keating challenged me to look with a new perspective.  Although I have climbed up on some desks to look at rooms differently, I now take this concept into everyday life.

A few years ago, a speaker talking about creativity challenged us to inspire creativity by finding unusual ways of doing ordinary things.  For example, if you normally drive the same route to work, take a different route.  (I did this one day and ended up driving around for over an hour!  That drive is still in my memory as I wandered and saw things I never normally see.)

Both of these concepts came together with the clocks.  As I sat there, I wondered how fun it could be to have a wall of clocks with fictional locations.

That idea sat in my OmniFocus app from April to July.  Then I prepared for a Wacky Weekend with the 5th-8th graders at my church and it resurfaced.  I used GroupMe to message a few of my friends in FourFiveSix for their favorite fictional locations, without giving them any explanation or context.

I then found six analog clocks at Target that were all the same style, with different colors for their case and hands.  I put each clock on a music stand on stage with a fictional location label for each.  In a room where students had recently pointed out that has no clock, we now had six!

When that weekend finished, I decided to let that creative, fun idea live on . . . in my office.  So, I now have my wall of clocks featuring fictional locations.  And most people who come in the room and hear all six clocks ticking away the seconds, do a double-take as they look up at the wall and see the labels.  I guarantee it inspires creativity!

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One more thing . . . I always loved when Steve Jobs would say those three magic words in a presentation.  He had saved something good for last.  I’m all about the fun of having fictional clocks for creativity, turning something ordinary into something unusual.  But these also have a practical use.

Although you can’t see it in the picture, and most probably don’t notice when they visit my office, each fictional location also represents a real location where I have friends or family.  When I’m sending a message or making a call, I need to remember what time it is for those in each location.  In my mind, I know what each represents.  But for the careful observer, that is easy for anyone to see . . . like a hidden scene after the end of credits in movies.

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So I leave you with this question: How can you foster creativity by making the ordinary unusual?