How I Spent My Summer Vacation
With the end of a hot summer in sight, many American paintballers are looking forward to packed fall game schedules. While scenario paintball continues in the summer, the pace and intensity and size of the events decrease. It can be hard to find players willing to brave sometimes triple digit temperatures to play a game that requires wearing a mask, but that doesn’t mean that paintball dies out in the summer months; it just takes a little rest and waits for the cooler fall weather.
Nonetheless, I’ve donned the camouflage a few times this summer, for some memorable experiences, and as we’re approaching back-to-school time, I thought I’d write a report on how I spent my summer vacation.
Command Decisions Wargames Center puts on an event in May that wraps up the spring calendar and gives teams a chance to test out some strategy before their marquee event in the fall – the Fulda Gap Mega Game. After retiring a long, successful series of scenarios based around the Vietnam War, the staff at CDWC shifted gears to the invasion of Grenada in the first of a new series titled Shadow Wars. The teams that attended got exactly what they’ve come to expect – professionally run paintball intensity on an excellent field. The layout guarantees mass charges, intense shoot outs, close quarters battles in their simulated urban areas, and long stealth flanking moves through the woods. Throw in some tanks and what’s not to like? It’s a woodsballer’s dream. My daughter, who the paintball community has affectionately taken to calling “foolycub,” attended this game with me, and there’s hardly anything that touch a long-time scenario player’s heart like seeing his daughter starting to gain a real sense for the game.
Once again I got a chance to put on my teacher’s hat (mask?) this summer as the instructor for Line-of-Fire’s summer paintball camp. The three-day camp featured games, drills, individual instruction, and almost non-stop paintball. The group of campers this year was especially great, especially considering the diverse range of skills and experiences they brought with them. The oldest camper was more than twice the age of the youngest! Some of the players had spots on x-ball teams, while others had hardly played the game before. What they all brought to the table was a desire to improve and a willingness to dive into any game or drill, and that motivation paid dividends by the end of camp.
On the final morning, my Capital Offense teammate and PSP referee Brian Radford made a guest appearance to work with the campers on some of the more technical aspects of competitive paintball, and following some intense one-on-ones, we capped off the camp with a massive water balloon battle in the middle of Line-of-Fire’s paintball city field. (If only getting bunkered always felt that refreshing.) Planet Eclipse one again generously sponsored the camp experience with some amazing prizes each day; by the end of the camp the participants were decked out in Eclipse gear and ready to take on the world.
Teachers get Schooled
I finished out my summer vacation in a unique day at the field. Like almost all paintballers, I work outside the industry to earn my living. This summer, I took on a job that allowed me to spend a week with an amazing group of energetic teachers looking to hone their classroom skills and make a difference to their students. I was tasked with planning a day’s worth of activities that would pull them together as a team and sharpen their abilities to make quick decisions while under pressure. Of course I took them for a day of paintball!
After some basic gear and safety instruction, I took my newly-created teams to the woods for some old school capture-the-flag. They broke up into smaller squads, and after teaching them some rudimentary squad tactics, I blew the horn and stood back to view the carnage. What amazed me was how quickly they picked up on the importance of communication and field awareness. By our third game these teachers no longer looked like paintball newbies, so I took them to the urban field where they played Center Control. In this game, both teams set their sights on a cone in the center of the field. Tagging the cone gains control for one side, but all it takes is a touch from the other team to swing control, and the team owning the field at the end of the time limit wins the game. I threw in the ability for eliminated players to return to their starting stations to rejuvenate, thus ensuring non-stop action. As the final seconds wound down, both teams coordinated runners to dash for the cone under a hail of covering fire in a thrilling finale.
Of course I had to take them all on in a game of attack-and-defend where I was the lone attacker against the entire group in a three-story fort, and getting to school the teachers was fun, but not as fun as hearing them tell their war stories and show off their bruises on the ride away from the field.
Looking to the Fall
A 24-hour scenario, paintball camp, and teamwork with teachers – with an amazing summer behind me, I’m looking forward to more of the typical paintball adventures in the fall. I’m considering adding more games to my calendar, such as a paintball trip to Adventure Beach in September. I can’t wait for Game of Thrones at Bear Claw in October, Fulda Gap in November, and the wacky fun of Santa Vs. The Grinch in December. As I have been doing all year, I’m shooting the ETHA at every event, and I’m carrying two spares to loan out to anyone interested in taking that beast for a test-drive. Want to reserve a chance to shoot the ETHA? Hit me up on Twitter (@foolybear)!
- Jason "foolybear" Lineberger