MIAMIBURG — In 1989, Dave Maynard began offering paintball as a program at Pleasant Vineyard Ministries in Camden. Little did he know then, his future career lay in the sport of paintball. Now, some 26 years after he first offered paintball, Maynard and his business partner Tim Gray have traveled the world as part of their Christian Paintball Academy, a program they founded.
According to Maynard when he began offering paintball in 1989 he was the first camp director to do so as part of his summer camp program. Not just locally — but in the United States.
Maynard said early on visitors came from as far away as Hawaii to attend the only camp offering the relatively new sport.
The sport grew in popularity over the next several years, and Maynard saw an opportunity to help fellow camps learn the sport.
“As time went on, more and more camps went on to adopt paintball as an activity and some as a program,” he explained. “I found there was a void in our industry — the camping industry — where people just didn’t understand the sport, and the camps didn’t understand the sport as far as safety, so that’s when we developed the Christian Paintball Academy.”
According to Maynard, through the Christian Paintball Academy he and Gray have trained over 150 people from approximately 110 camps across the country on how to utilize paintball as a mechanism to reach kids.
Maynard said he was simply exploring ways to bring new people to camp and paintball quickly proved to spark an interest in youth. “We found we reached a segment of the youth culture through paintball who normally would not attend camp,” Maynard said about his programs early beginnings. “Once we started offering it we had a lot more boys coming to our camps. We wanted to offer something that was more culturally relevant.”
According to Maynard, the sport was created in 1981 but it was Maynard’s camp who offered the first game at a summer camp in the fall of 1989, despite not having any guidelines on how to properly run and safely offer the sport.
“It was a lot of trial and error at the start, because it was so new and there were no standards out there — and technology was limited at the time,” Maynard said. “As the sport was developing, we were right on the cusp of it, so we’ve watched the evolution of the sport the last 25 years.”
Maynard explained, once the sport started to increase in popularity, he began receiving calls from other camps asking how he operated his own paintball camp.
After receiving numerous calls from other camps about safety procedures, Maynard and Gray decided to begin writing a safety manual for paintball camps in the early 2000s.
The American Camp Association has now adopted the standards set by the pair’s manual, which now acts as the national standards for paintball safety at camps.
Then one day in 2008, they received an email from the United States Air Force requesting a quote to run and operate paintball camps on Air Force bases.
According to Maynard, at the time they received the email they were the only people offering quotes to run paintball camp and thus a partnership with the Air Force began.
Since then, the pair has helped set up numerous camps on Air Force bases across the globe, including camps in South Korea, Japan, Alaska, and all throughout the United States.
The partnership is on a year-to-year basis, according to Maynard, but he says they hope to have an opportunity to build a course on the base at Pearl Harbor in the future.
Currently Gray does most of the traveling for the Christian Paintball Academy, while Maynard stays home and runs the logistics of the program. Maynard estimates the program with the Air Force has sent over 5,000 kids through paintball camps.
He explained how paintball translates to everyday life for the kids who experience his camp, saying they teach kids “not to be the Rambo,” as well as, team-building skills, the importance of protecting friends, communication and leadership skills — all while using biblical devotions and teachings.
Now Maynard stays home at the group’s home base, Camp Chautauqua, a paintball facility currently being run in Miamisburg.
Maynard continues to be an innovator in the sport as the home base offered “Monster Special Ops” this fall. This was a fall special which sent participants through a course on the back of a trailer while shooting “Zombies” with mounted, low-powered paintball guns.
He also explained he hopes to begin offering a new game called “Battleships” sometime this winter. This is another new game being offered at the local paintball facility which will pit participants with the low powered, mounted guns against each other as they fire at each other “in the open sea”.
Maynard and Grey still continue to help other camps build paintball fields, develop safety standards, and start their own programs through a paintball symposium they offer once each year to camp directors wanting to learn the sport of paintball.
Maynard says becoming one of the national leaders in paintball was never the goal when he started it in 1989. “When we first started I never knew it was going to get this big,” he said. “I had no desire to get this big but it just kind of evolved to where it is today.”
Why has paintball become so popular? Maynard said he believes it reminds people of a traditional childhood game with which everyone is familiar: “Kids and adult love it — it’s a big game of tag,” Maynard said.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @aschmidt_RH.