The time of year you hold your child's birthday party can make a great deal of difference as far as the things you can do for an army themed party. So for this reason if you are thinking about planning an army themed party but haven't yet got a child, try to plan the pregnancy so that they will appear sometime between May and September. If you already have a child and their birthday falls outside these months, well, that's just poor planning isn't it?
If you have plenty of space outside then a great idea is to set up an army assault course. It is surprisingly easy to create one which is challenging and fun, without having to spend a fortune or dig up half the garden. For example, if you have an old sheet or duvet cover you can stretch this across the ground, hammering pegs in on either side to create an obstacle which they have to crawl under, keeping nice and flat.
If you know a local garage, and you ask very nicely, it is often possible to borrow four or five tyres, which you can then lay out in a staggered pattern for them to jump from one to the other. For the climbing wall, a bale of hay is ideal, if you happen to know a local farm or stable, and the beauty of this is that it is soft and won't cause any problems if it topples whilst they are climbing over it.
Finally an old plank or floorboard balanced on top of a couple of bricks makes a good balancing beam. You can set these obstacles out any way you like, and then time children to get through it. It's surprising just how many parents want a go afterwards, and one parent we spoke to actually said that it is a good idea to plan the party so that it ends whilst there is still daylight, just so the parents can have a go! Another great game involves shooting, but only water pistols. Grab one of these, and then create a sort of tin can alley by balancing lightweight objects on a ledge a little way away. How large the items are, how far away and how powerful the water pistol is will all depend on the age and abilities of the children.
Empty shampoo bottles are great, especially if you paint them to look like enemy soldiers, or grenades. On the subject of grenades, another game involves throwing them. Don't worry, the grenades are only black beanbags, or balls painted black. Have a target area for the children to aim for. A good way of doing this is to use rope to create three concentric circles, one inside the other. Children have to throw a grenade, and get ten points for getting it in the smallest circle, five points for the middle sized one one and two points for the largest one. Face painting is popular, but here's an idea. Don't get an adult to do the face painting! Pair the children up and have them do camouflage paint on each other. You can either use children's face paint, or even pop to your local Army Surplus store and pick up some genuine camouflage paint.
With paintballing such a popular activity these days camouflage face paint is not that hard to find, and washes off reasonably easily. Another good game to play is 'Shot in the Dark'. There are a couple of ways you can do this. The more traditional way, with an army twist, is to have one person play the camp guard, (that's the person who guards the camp, not a guard who stands funny). The rest of the children go to the other end of the room. It helps if you can set up a variety of obstacles in the way, such as chairs. The guard is then blindfolded (naturally, it's a good tactic) and then the game begins. The rest of the children, the enemy invaders, have to try to touch the camp guard, without the camp guard knowing they are there. Very slowly and very quietly the children have to creep up on the guard. The guard has three 'lives'. If they hear someone moving towards them they hold up their hand in a gun gesture and shout 'Bang!'. If they are aiming at someone then that person is out, and the game continues. If they aren't on target then they lose one life. The game ends when either the guard has shot all of the invaders, lost his three lives, or one of the invaders has managed to reach the guard. A second way of playing this would be to use a water pistol rather than simply an unloaded hand! Best played outside really.