This is Darrel.

As a father of a 13-year-old boy, he has struggled with how to connect with his son and teach him what it means to be a man. Darrel has very different interests than his son, Ransom, who has fully immersed himself in playing games.

“His mind was in video games 24 hours a day.”

Darrel started to ask himself how he could be a good father. He wondered how he could teach his son a work ethic, the value of money, and how to be a man.

“Another thing lacking was exercise, and the desire to do anything physical.”

Then Darrel saw his son playing with nerf guns with a friend. Ransom enjoyed it, and he played day and night for some time, but he eventually lost his excitement for it.

But this gave Darrel an idea. He had some old paintball gear and he knew paintball was a lot of fun for him when he was younger. He thought his son might have fun with it, too. He dug out his gear and the two of them went to shoot targets.

They had a good time, but it wasn’t as much fun as video games. So Darrel tried again. He gave his son a few extra shirts to take the edge off, and this time they played a round one-on-one.

Darrel snuck up on Ransom, who hiding behind a building, and shot the building next to his head a few times to scare him.

“His eyes lit up! He was in a video game.”

From there, the sky was the limit. Ransom wanted to play all the time. He was online researching new gear to buy and he could not wait to play again with more people. Darrel had to point out to him that gear, CO2, and paint all costs money and it can get expensive. He offered Ransom a job working alongside him, painting and doing other odd jobs.

Their first day out, Ransom was working for a while, but eventually Darrel found him off by himself. Darrel stopped him and explained how he couldn’t pay him for not working.

“You’re only making money when you’re doing something that produces a value.”

So he kept working. Soon he had saved up enough money to buy a new gun and they started going to more events. Ransom wanted to get more people in the area involved. Every time they went out, he invited someone new to come along. He started scheming on how to get families from the church involved. Darrel could not believe how much his son was growing.

At one event his son even sat out of games to help referee and coordinate. Ransom, who had struggled with making friends and hardly went outdoors, could not stop playing paintball and invited everyone he talked to everywhere they went to play with them.

He was making friends at these events with new and seasoned players alike in a culture where winning and losing had meaning. He was playing alongside friends and strangers he could see and talk to, and they wanted to win just as much.

Darrel is excited to see how other men are connecting with their children through paintball. And as for his relationship with Ransom, it only continues to grow stronger.