CINNAMINSON, N.J. (AP) – The teenage boys hid behind inflatable bunkers, two of them looked like tanks.
They ran toward one another with Nerf guns drawn on the “battlefield.” The objective: shoot one another and force the wounded to the sideline for a few minutes, giving them more time to collect balls and get them back to their side.
There were shouts of “I hit you, man” or “I was just hit.” There was plenty of laughter and yelling, a lot of running and just all-out fun.
The Cinnaminson High School boys’ varsity soccer team was just hours removed from playing in its final preseason scrimmage and were surprised by their coaches and team captains with “Nerf Wars.” They were playing a game called “ball blitz” where the objective is to get all six balls onto one side.
Nerf Wars is the creation of Delanco teen Austin Dasher, who recently turned 17. The Burlington County Institute of Technology Westampton senior started the mobile Nerf battle company about five months ago and it has taken off.
He now is booked for at least two events each weekend, sometimes three. Dasher and a few of his buddies and often times his mom and dad load up a minivan with the equipment and travel to the various locations and set everything up. Then, it’s game on.
“We started it Easter week, actually,” Dasher told the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill (http://on.cpsj.com/2xa539b). “We were on our way to a Facebook marketing seminar and my dad had seen a post on Facebook about a church group doing a Nerf war. Since I did Nerf in my backyard with my buddies all the time, I wanted to see what it was all about. I found the post, and I saw all they were doing was hosting the event. They weren’t providing anything other than the ammo. I said, wow, I can do that better.
“That basically started this entire business for me. I have a lot of experience with Nerf guns. I’ve been playing with them, pretty much my entire life, so it was already a passion of mine.”
Cinnaminson boys soccer coach Jason Miele met with his three team captains a week before the preseason to discuss some ideas for team building.
“As a coach, you’re always looking for different ways to get the guys together and maybe at times not necessarily on the field, but just coming together and having fun with each other and remembering that they are 16, 17 and 18 years old,” he said. “I was telling them (the team captains) how my son recently just did this (Nerf Wars) in my neighborhood and when I said it to three guys, they just jumped all over the opportunity. They thought it was a great idea.”
Team captain Jacob Vermes, a senior center back, said his teammates were pleasantly surprised to learn they’d get to participate in Nerf Wars.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “All the guys enjoy it. It’s a great event, getting everyone together. It’s kind of a team-bonding session. Everyone’s having a lot of fun.”
Mike Lutz, another senior captain, was happy that things worked out so well.
“It’s going well,” he said. “Having some fun in the middle of preseason. Preseason can be known for just straight running and stuff like that. To have some fun like this, brings the team together well.”
Dasher said the events typically last for 90 minutes and it’s continuous except when they change up the game modes. He has nearly 10 different game modes teams can use, adding a bit more fun to it, instead of “just running around and shooting each other, because that can get old quick.”
They do simple birthday parties, team building events and community events. On Sept. 8, his company will be part of a “Guns & Hoses Nerf Wars,” put on by the Riverside police and fire departments. It’s an event for the community and will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Bob Kenney Field in Riverside. It’s open to children ages 7 to 14 from Delanco, Delran and Riverside.
The event is now at capacity, Riverside police said in a Facebook post Thursday morning, but registration is still open for those who want be placed on a wait list.
“We believe this is a great event to support a local young entrepreneur, and a very unique opportunity for local youth to get to know their local police officers by playing a game alongside of them,” Riverside Township police Capt. H. David Jaensch said.
“We are definitely really excited for this Riverside event,” said Dasher, who said he can handle up to four fields at a time. “We’re pulling out all the stops. We’re going to be running three fields and one unique field and that’ll be called the gauntlet, it’s similar to the American Gladiator competition except we modified it for Nerf.
“We provide everything. Our slogan is you provide the warriors and we provide the rest, and that’s completely true.”
Austin credits “100 percent” of his business knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit to his father Eric and says “he’s taught me everything I know.” His dad is the owner and host of a touring game show called Brain Wash Game Show, which travels to school assemblies, family fun nights, corporate gatherings, cruise ships and other places.
“They (his family) always help me with everything, so it’s just natural that we’re all here to help,” Eric Dasher said.
He said after he showed his son the item on Facebook about the church event, they put together a business plan, began ordering equipment, worked up a marketing plan using Facebook posts “and it just took off.”
Dasher also has been doing shows for his dad recently, then does Nerf Wars on the weekends. He’ll take advantage of the school-to-work program this year, which means he’ll go to school half days so he can come home and work on both businesses, mostly Nerf Wars. The average cost of his Nerf Wars events are about $350.
Dasher’s mother, a teacher, manned the table at the Cinnaminson soccer team’s event. She also helps to carry things and set things up where needed.
“I am so proud of him,” Bonnie Dasher said. “He’s got so many accomplishments under his belt at such a young age.”
Information from: Courier-Post (Cherry Hill, N.J.), http://www.courierpostonline.com/