Homemade Blow Dart Wars

In Blow Dart Wars two teams face off and try to hit members of the other team with Nerf® darts propelled by a blow dart gun.

Although you can purchase expensive ready-made equipment, here are the steps you can take to make your own blow dart guns and play Blow Dart Wars for relatively little cost:

Three Essentials For Having Fun With Middle School Boys

One of my absolute favorite things about middle school boys is their ability to have fun. They do it with such ease and they can have a ton of fun in the most unexpected ways.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com/micromonkey

Over the years I have discovered three essential elements that contribute to a fun experience with middle school boys:

My Script for Having Fun at the Mall in the Winter

3 Hours of Fun for Under $7

Winter can be tough for middle school boys (or boys in general). They have too much energy but often can’t get outside to work it off because the weather is too cold or snowy. Sitting at home watching TV and playing video games quickly gets old. They can get ornery and restless.

I’m grateful I live near a mall because it provides a cheap option to spend time with students in the winter. I’ve been to the local mall with middle school boys countless times and discovered that my mall trips all follow a similar script. The boys and I are always drawn to the same stores and activities. Here’s what we do:

The Best Sports Season Ever

I spent a lot of time playing hockey and baseball as a kid. My favorite season in any sport ever was my 9th grade hockey season.

My 9th grade hockey team touring a hockey stick factory during a tournament in northern Minnesota. I’m standing in the middle row underneath the “E” in “HOCKEY.” Coach Thad is on the far left. Coach Adam is on the far right and Coach Josh is right next to him.

It was a great season for a few reasons. I got to play with a lot of close friends and we were a pretty good team. Plus we went on some memorable out-of-town weekend tournaments. But the big difference-maker was the coaching staff.

Here’s a fun idea to try with a group of middle school boys: One time I went to the grocery store with some students and we bought four or five boxes of different sugary cereal. Then we went back to one of the guy’s houses and had a cereal party where we consumed bowl after bowl of yummy goodness. One guy really got into it and brought a special cereal-eating spoon. It wasn’t the healthiest meal ever and my stomach hurt afterward but it was totally worth the experience!

Tests of Manliness

Most guys have an inborn desire to be known as “manly.” This includes middle school boys, even though they are usually still years away from full-fledged manhood.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com/Andriy Petrenko

Despite the significant gap between middle school boys and mature men, I like to encourage and affirm their “inner man.” I developed a series of tests of manliness that creates a fun opportunity for adults to connect with boys and leads to good discussions about what it actually means to be a man. Here’s what I do:

Humble Yourself And Have Fun On Their Terms

Craig is an awesome middle school volunteer leader who serves at my previous church. One year at a fall retreat he wanted to hang out with one of our students named Evan. Evan was quirky and aloof but he carried himself in a way that endeared him to adults.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com/Pavel Losevsky

Craig, wanting to be a good leader and spend quality time with Evan, asked Evan what he wanted to do. Evan’s answer surprised Craig, but he went along with it and they ended up having a great time.

How Losing Can Lead to Winning With Middle School Boys

I was a speaker at a middle school camp last summer. On the final night of camp we had some free time so I decided to spend time with campers in the game room. It had some pool (billiards) tables. The game room at camp is a great place to connect with middle school boys as long as you can put up with the funky body odor smell that develops after campers have been in the room for more than five minutes.

Photo courtesy of Dollar Photo Club/Jasminko Ibrakovic

 I challenged three boy campers to join me in a game of two-on-two pool. They agreed, so we split up teams and began the game. It ended up being the longest game of pool in my life, but also the best.

Why It’s Okay For You and Me to Not Be Great At Sports

I would label myself as an “average” athlete. I grew up playing hockey and baseball and running cross country. I was mildly gifted at sports but never excelled. During my senior year of high school I was on junior varsity for all three sports.

Photo courtesy of Dollar Photo Club/iceteastock

I was done with competitive sports after high school and only play them for fun as an adult. Part of me wishes I possessed more natural sports talent but that’s not really something I can control. Plus I’ve made a discovery that makes me thankful for my mediocre athletic abilities.

A Fun Gift Idea

Middle school boys are notoriously difficult to buy presents for. When buying gifts for them, I want to find something that is fun, genuine, and inexpensive. I also want it to be a memorable gift. Video games and gift cards don’t count.

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com/SydaProductions

Someone gave me a gift idea I have since exploited multiple times that works well when I need a present for a middle school boy.