Full disclosure: That is not me in the above photo. As you will see below, I looked decidedly less badass.

I’ve been checking Living Social on a regular basis lately to see if there are any travel deals to take advantage of, whether they be long distance trips or adventures close to home. Nothing really struck me as a necessary purchase until a month ago when I noticed a deal for a highly discounted day trip to Skirmish Paintball Fields in the Poconos. I had never been paintballing before but I had fired a real-life rifle once with surprising accuracy, so I deduced from that solitary experience that I’d probably be an okay shot with balls of paint instead of deadly bullets. Excited by the prospect of getting out of the city for a day, I rallied my friend Alex (another paintball virgin) and bought the deal.

Our moment to partake in feigned warfare came about last Saturday, and I have the bruises to prove it. I don’t care that I left the foothills of northeastern Pennsylvania bruised like a Georgia peach, though, because it was one of the most entertaining experiences of my life.

Upon boarding the bus that would usher us to the Poconos, Alex and I were greeted by two Living Social guides who informed us that Skirmish is the largest outdoor paintballing facility in North America. With over 50 playing fields spread across 700 acres of land, it’s hard to prove that advertisement false. We also discovered that, like us, most of the others in our Living Social group had never played paintball before. Suddenly the idea of running around a giant outdoor arena like tributes in the Hunger Games became less frightening because none of our rivals knew what they were doing either.

skirmish paintball in the poconos me
How obvious is it that we were paintball virgins?

We arrived at the entrance to the fields where everyone was fitted with a face mask to prevent our eyes from being blown out of our heads by a misfire (that tidbit was all I took away from the brief safety speech), and anyone who wanted more body armor could rent it. In some misguided show of machismo I decided that the face guard would suffice and passed up the full-body coverage that everyone else was quickly zipping on. Soon after we were hiking like infantrymen past fields equipped with fallen helicopters and defunct army tanks and into a densely wooded area.

Our first round of play was a game of capture the flag in a shrubby stretch of forest dotted with giant plastic tubes and wooden lean-tos for strategic hiding. Despite the fact that everything organic around me was coated in a crusty film of white paint, the experience of being in the woods just a few hours outside of New York was overall very soothing. Then the first paintball struck me square in the ribs, and the feeling of tranquility quickly gave way to a sense of remorse that I hadn’t opted for the body armor.

Throughout the day I became used to the sting of being hit, and I even managed to capture the flag during one round of play. As someone who has been mediocre at best in athletic endeavors, that was a very proud moment for me. The highlight of the day, however, came at the very end when everyone in the Living Social group — around 200 people — stormed a giant castle in a free-for-all melee. I felt like I was in the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan and it was awesome.

If you’ve played paintball before, you know that the experience really can’t be put into words — which is why I’m currently regretting the fact that I just wrote 600 words about it. But I encourage all of you to take a trip out to Skirmish Paintball Fields in the Poconos for some flag capturing and castle storming. If you’re feeling really adventurous they even host the largest game of paintball in the world in July called “Invasion of Normandy”. My Saving Private Ryan moment now makes perfect sense.

This was not my first trip to the Poconos, and it won’t be my last. Now that I know that there’s a place where I can frolic in the woods and pop caps in peoples’ masked faces, I’ll be checking Living Social even more regularly for another excursion out there.

Featured image courtesy of West Point Public Affiars via Flickr
Photo courtesy of Alex Hess 

Steven tried out for The Amazing Race one time and was denied. We're not saying this is why he started this site, but it may have been a contributing factor in his decision to explore the world online and share his travel inspiration with others.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Using Living Social is definitely a great way to pick up deals on outings. I hadn’t thought about using it for paintball though! I’m curious though as to how often they come up? Was the one you went to specifically for paintball or was it just an area that had it (based on the post it seems as if it was actually set up as a paintball outing)?

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