Army Party -9yr- Save the Soldier Game
Heather in Adelaide, Australia
We have just had the best Army party for my son's 9th birthday. I warn you, it can be loud but I always think that's a sign that the kids are really into it and having fun. The invitations said You are required to attend Boot Camp to celebrate xxx's 9th birthday. You will be required to undertake many special tasks and missions in order to qualify for the Special Forces Platoon. Enlistment will take place at precisely 11:00 hours at xxx. (our home address) with Boot Camp concluding at 14:00 hours. Wear you fatigues or play clothes and be prepared for action!
Decorations were black brown and green balloons. The Army Reserves centre gave me heaps of Army Navy and Airforce posters plus we had birthday banners and green streamers up inside and out since much of the party was outside. We had 10 boys which was handy number for two teams for one of the games. The whole party including prizes food props and decorations cost about $100. When the boys arrived I put on a headband strip of camouflage fabric which cost about $7 for a metre (it was also very wide fabric) put some black and green face paint on their cheeks to give them a bit of a commando look and gave them all a dog tag which was made from cardboard with a hole punched in the end and a piece of hat elastic to hand around their necks.
As the boys arrived and were put into character they had to draw their face (however they liked) on a piece of paper and write their name on the top and bottom edges. It's always a great idea to give the kids something to do when they arrive. Some can be nervous and awkward and it gets the kids straight into the party action. The paper was them wrapped around an empty tin (I used mostly soup tins I had saved after the contents were eaten) and the boys had to take them outside and put them on the outdoor table which had a few cardboard boxes on of different heights. This was for a game to be held later called Bombs Away in which you throw water balloons at the cans. If you hit someone else you get a point. If you hit yourself you lose a point.
Once everyone had arrived my son opened his presents. The excitement level was already rising to fever pitch. My husband (wearing a khaki top and army cap) then lined all the boys up. He introduced himself as the General and told the boys when they answered they had to say "Sir Yes Sir" loudly. It was surprising how the boys were into it right from the start. He then told them they were to be sworn in and had to take the oath repeating after him. "I swear to have a good time to be kind to others to smile and lot and to challenge myself." Then he marched them (left right left or 1234 etc) out to the back yard.
We had set up an obstacle course around the outside edge of the backyard with everyday items. In the middle of the yard I had some large boxes from the recycling bins of a local electrical store (fridge washing machine etc size boxes). I had sprayed the boxes with green and black paint in a camoflage way and they looked fantastic. The paint was about $2 a tin and one tin did 2 boxes. I had cut an opening flap and some narrow slits in the boxes as these would be used later for the War Game.
The War Game is free play game which we had at the end of the party where all the boys were armed with water pistols and could hide behind the boxes or in them for protection. We had two buckets of water on the verandah of our cubby house which was called "Base Camp" and when you were on the verandah you couldn't be shot at. This gave the boys an opportunity to "reload" without being under attack.
Back to the obstacle course. This was a timed race one boy at a time. We started with walking along a line of house bricks. If you fell off you had to start again. We did them one first so that the boys would have to be calm and settled to start the course. Then they had to get over an old coffee table under the "barbed wire" which was some bamboo stakes in the ground with nylon rope strung between them in a zig zag pattern then they jumped over two sticks crawled through a fridge box (tunnel also spray painted) up the slippery dip and down its ladder over a mud pit by swinging on a rope tied to the swing set over the cubby verandah and then landing on a target (painted on to the grass with the spray paint). The boys had a practise first and then had two timed goes. It was amazing how every body bettered their time. The fastest boy won in 19 seconds! Then we had a prize for first and second place and a "Winner" medal each bought from the party store. I bought enough to make sure that every boy got at least one medal to take home. The second game was the "Bombs Away". This was mentioned earlier. We lined them all up behind a stick and they aimed at the tins. This was hilarious. The boys laughed a lot when they were hit. Again prizes for first and second and medals for the two.
After a drink we had the "Chocolate Ration" game. This is the one where you roll a 6 on the dice and have to put on the over-sized gloves and scarf and cut a piece of chocolate and keep going until someone else rolls a 6 and then has to grab the clothing off you and try and eat their share of the chocolate. For hygiene every boy had his own fork and there was one knife in the middle to cut the chocolate. The next game was outside again. It was a Scavenger Hunt. Before the party I had hidden 120 beige coloured army solders bought for $4 around the garden. I told them all were in plain sight and all were in the yard. They were in bunches of 4 but each child could only take one from each bunch. We set a time limit of roughly 5 minutes depending on how successful everyone is and once they had 5 they had to bring them back to Base before heading out again. They went beserk and it gave them a really good appetite for lunch.
Lunch was very easy in the "Mess Hall" - sausage rolls pizza little pies popcorn Maltesers chips and smarties. It was all served on disposable flatware for convenience and the plastic cups had the kids names written on them in permanent marker so we knew whose was who.
After lunch it was time for "Save the Soldier". This was played in two teams. We lined the boys up and marched them out of the house (left right left right) to the front yard. The idea was to fetch your injured soldier from across the yard using the stretcher (beach towel) and bring them back to the other side of the yard. Then you had to wrap them up with the bandage (good quality toilet paper) before stretchering them back to the other side of the yard and unbandaging them. We set the rule of bandaging from the shoulders down so that when they unbandaged the child their were no scratching near eyes etc. This game was a race and was very funny. To help with the paper clean up we made the boys race to see who could grab up the most rubbish. It's amazing how if you make something a game you can get kids to do work without even realising it! We didn't have prizes with this game but instead I had bought enough $2 items for one per child and we had a lucky dip. The winning team went first and then the other team. It gave everyone a feeling of getting something and anyone who hadn't received a medal got one at this stage.
Next we had the birthday cake which was a bought icecream cake from the supermarket. It cooled the boys down and was something everyone liked. To finish the day off we had the War Game. They were so excited about the opportunity to run riot around the yard. I filled up their water pistols first so they would all get a good start and then left it to the boys to refill from the buckets. It's a good idea having the bucket rather than them leaving the tap running etc. When the parents and siblings started to arrive some of the other little brothers and older brothers jumped right in to the War Game. I even heard one little guy say could he come over for a play on the weekend. As well as using the boxes mentioned earlier the kids still kept playing on the obstacle course right till they went home. We got some fantastic photos. Some we got the kids to scream Army! others they pulled a growling face and other various tough poses. It was such a huge success that everyone was talking about it on Monday at school and wanting to have a party just like my sons."