Wild West Themed Birthday LARP

For Amelia’s 11th birthday party we did a Wild West themed LARP. This is a pretty easy LARP to organize and run, and is good for younger kids who have trouble keeping character. We had all girls and the party worked very well; your mileage may vary.

The story is that the kids are trying out for the local Pony Express to be riders. The local office has been having trouble with bandits and they need brave new riders.

For their first task they had to raise their ponies. This was a craft project that took about forty minutes for the most detail oriented. We’d pre-cut matching horse heads out of stiff construction paper and each kid colored two sides of a head to suit their vision of their pony. We used yarn for the manes and the kids used glue sticks to stick the manes on. Yardsticks were used for the body and some parental hot gluing and stapling was necessary to keep the heads securely attached to the bodies.

Once the horses were done the kids had to each try out for the Pony Express by riding along a bandit infested route. We had 7 kids and 2 bandits. The bandits had Nerf blasters and shot at each of the girls as they ran the route. The idea for the bandits was to create tension but not actually hit the kids. It worked great, with lots of screaming and dodging going on. All the kids loved it!

After that they discovered that while the kids were out riding the route, bandits had robbed the local bank. The local express office couldn’t afford guns for everyone so they gave the kids rocks (rolled up socks) and told them to go out and recover the loot. All the kids then rushed out and tried to hit the bandits with socks. Every two or three socks that hit a bandit they’d drop a bag of loot. These bags had the party favors in them, and we had one bag for each kid.

The bandit problem solved, the kids had a meal of beans and hot dogs (and cupcakes!)

We also had a pinata and a cross between water balloon toss and musical chairs that didn’t really fit the theme, but were great fun. We’d had another themed activity planned, but by the time the kids ate and presents were opened, we ran out of time for it. I’ll describe it here so you can use it if you have extra time.

The Pony Express office wanted to arm the riders so they could better handle bandits in the future. They created a training course to make sure the riders could handle their weapons in any situation. A rider was given a Nerf Maverick with six shots in it. The obstacle course had six targets on it, and a rider could take only a single shot at each target.

The first target was a simple one, a hoola hoop. They just needed to shoot through the hoola hoop to get credit for that one. The next was a series of bottles lined up and they needed to shoot one of the bottles. After that they went down a slide and needed to shoot into a bucket while sliding. Then they needed to cross a homemade balance beam and shoot into a hat off to the side. The last two targets were windows in a garage door and a foot wide decorative paper ball hanging in the air.

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