Youth participated in a friendly paintball competition Monday at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area.

Paintball is one of the many activities offered for adults and youth this summer by Fort Hood’s Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

“We’re trying to provide quality outdoor recreation programs that allow you to also get in touch with nature,” Thad Rosenberry, recreation specialist with DFMWR, said. “Families are always looking for things to do to keep them busy throughout the summer while school’s out.”

Participants can play paintball in a multitude of ways. Capture the flag, cowboys and Indians and a free-for-all, just to name a few. The participants were given the opportunity to try a little bit of everything and worked on important listening and safety skills.

“It teaches you communication discipline. It introduces you to something new. Something you may have not tried before,” Rosenberry said. “You get to meet new friends, maybe create new relationships with people – find out that they also have a passion and then they have a group to come out here together and play.”

Brothers Keshawn Graham, 12, and Kenneth Graham, 14, who have never played paintball before, were excited to learn something new and compete against each other.

“Always keep your mask on if the fire is on,” Keshawn said.

Kenneth said he was happy to spend time with his little brother and would definitely play paintball again.

The paintball course features four different sections: a close quarters urban area, a massive open bridge area, an abandoned old western town and a Native American village.

The different settings provided for a great variety of game-play and several different ways for the boys to show off their new paintball skills.

The boys favored different courses with Keshawn’s favorite being the open bridge area and Kenneth’s being the old abandoned western town and Native American village.

Their mom, Sgt. Tracey Baten, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, was excited that her two older sons could participate.

“It’s their first time. They’ve always wanted to do it,” Baten said. “It builds cohesion. It builds unity.”

Brenda Brown, instructional program specialist, feels that it is important for kids to have activities available to them on post to build self-confidence and self-esteem.

“They learn that, ‘If I learn that song for the piano recital or I got my next belt in martial arts,’ that I can achieve a goal,” Brown said. “This is teaching kids how to have self-confidence and believe in themselves and know that they can do it.”

Brown said having activities on post for military youth to participate in is convenient and economical.

“We try to make our programs a bit cheaper than what they would normally find outside of the gates,” Brown said. “It’s right here on post. They don’t have to battle bad traffic to get to classes.”

Summer’s not over yet. There are still outdoor activities that kids can participate in such as mountain biking, outdoor rock climbing and a survival skills class. There are also after- school activities to look forward to.  For more information visit https://hood.armymwr.com/programs/cys-services or call 287-8029.