Got cabin fever? Are your kids growing tired of the usual wintertime sports - sledding, skating, snowman building - and are looking for a more challenging outdoor activity?
Paintball Explosion is an outdoor paintball theme park, located in East Dundee, minutes off the I-90 expressway. It's the perfect spot to take your tweens and teens for an afternoon of outdoor fun - no matter the weather. Seven professionally-designed outdoor paintball fields include scenarios similar to some of the video games that you're tweens and teens are already playing. It gives them the chance to move their eyes off the screen and onto their real life opponents in the great outdoors.
My son and his pals were just plain thrilled to get outdoors - no matter the snow, ice and cold - and run around with their paintball guns. Donned in their winter gear and wearing protective helmets, they told me that they really felt like they were living inside a video game world - an abandoned town blanketed in snow where they had to learn to battle as a team.
Here's how it works: check in by paying your entry fee, renting your gear and purchasing your paintballs. After listening to a brief safety lecture, you'll head outdoors and load up your paintballs. If you have enough kids in your party, they can form a team of their own; single participants will be assigned to a team. On the battlefield, it's a race to see who can survive the paintball onslaught. Referees are on hand to ensure safety and fair play.
This is most definitely not a sport for little kids and I recommend it solely for older tweens - ages 12 and up - and teens. Since our kids were dressed up in snow pants, they didn't feel the sometimes slightly painful paint bullet hits. If you can't wear snow pants, you'll definitely want to wear thicker pants.
Viewing areas and closed-circuit live-feed video from the field give parents the opportunity to watch their players in action. Snacks and refreshments are available, too. To learn more, visit Paintball Explosion at pbbomb.com.
Amy Bizzarri is a writer, Chicago public school teacher and mom to two kids - a preschooler and a middle schooler - living in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago.
See more of Amy's stories here.