Being a student at Lehigh, there are lots of opportunities for adventures especially when the weather is nice. Lehigh is close enough to New York City, Philly, or even the Jersey shore to make a day trip on the weekends. There are also ten thousand things going on during the weekends on campus, so sometimes it’s difficult to want to leave. This past Saturday there was a Lehigh football game, which I planned on going to after tailgating in the morning. Since I’ve tailgated many times before, a few friends and I started brainstorming ideas for other activities to do in the area. Since my buddies and I are on the track team, we figured we would have the most fun doing some friendly competition and we decided to go play paintball. We put a message out to all the guys on the team and hoped we could get a good turnout. I have played paintball many times before, but am far from an expert. For some people it would be their first time ever playing.
We wanted to get a big group of guys to play because if there were 20 or more of us, we would get to play private games. Anything less than 20 and we would be playing against people we didn’t know. We ended up getting a group of 14, so we missed the cutoff and we ended up getting way more bruises than we would have otherwise (I’ll explain more later). The closest place was an hour’s drive north, at a place called Skirmish. I helped my friend Chris organize transportation and was one of the five people who drove. We wore clothes that we knew would get dirty: old sneakers, sweatpants, T-shirts. Before we left in the morning, I picked up breakfast and then was on the road by 10. This would get us to Skirmish at 11, and leave plenty of time to play for the rest of the day. We figured we would just buy lunch there whenever we got hungry again.
On the drive up, some of the guys were talking about how they were nervous about getting shot for the first time, and I helped calm them down. Getting shot with a paintball feels like a mix of getting punched and stung by a bee at the same time. It leaves a welt on the skin that lasts for a few days, but with all the adrenaline going during the game, you don’t really notice the pain. When we arrived, we had to sign waivers, buy admission tickets ($30 each) which included a face mask, gun, ammo, and a camo suit. One of the guys Tyler bought the paintballs, which were way more expensive than we thought. Something we definitely should have done differently was do some research ahead of time and buy them online and in bulk. After that, we walked over to another station where we would meet our referee. A Ref accompanies each group for the whole day, and their job was to manage fair play. Every time you get shot, you’re out for the round, so the ref would make sure people did not wipe off the paint to hide the fact that they got shot. The ref would also settle disputes over who got shot first, and make sure people are taking necessary safety precautions, such as keeping barrels pointed down, making sure face masks were on, as well as keeping safety switches on.
We played from 11:30-4:30 and played a total of 7 games on 3 different courses. We quickly became really hungry and tried to get lunch. Unfortunately, the food station only accepted cash, which the majority of us did not have. To our luck, the only ATM machine ran out of cash, so we resorted to buying candy bars from the gift shop in order to hold ourselves over. Just like the paintballs, we should have researched more to know this ahead of time that way we could have been prepared with packed lunches or picked up food on the way.
We definitely underestimated how experienced the people we played against were. It was clear to us that most of the other people on the courses came almost every weekend and took paintball very seriously. They had guns that could fire nearly twice as far as our guns, which were rentals that Skirmish provided us with. These other guys would be screaming plays that sounded like war commands while we would just shoot them with no real
strategy. This is the reason why having 20 people would have been a huge advantage, as we wouldn’t have to play against these experts.
By the time we were done for the day, everyone was starving and exhausted. I needed to pick up a Red Bull at a gas station just to stop myself from falling asleep at the wheel. Everyone slept in the car on the way back to Lehigh while I held my eyes open. Another Saturday well spent in the books!