A Follow Up on Cardboard Tube Wars: How to successfully pull off a cardboard tube battle for tweens and teens in a public library without loss of life or limb.

So earlier I wrote about my weird inspiration for a program, specifically the Cardboard Tube Fighting League. Since that post, the program has been successfully completed in my Library with everyone having fun and no one getting hurt. The program was a great success and good vanquished over evil (at least pretend good vanquished pretend evil based on the sides the kids choose.)

Here’s what you need to pull off a Cardboard Tube Wars Program:

A waiver is handy. There are all kinds of sample waivers for programs on the internet. Find them, use them as a template and make sure your waiver is approved by your Library through whatever your approval process is before you start having parents sign them. I included the rules from the Cardboard Tube Fighting League in my waiver so that parents and participants would have them before the event ever started.

Plan the program for the summer, but start planning for it before Christmas. In November send out an All Staff Email asking for the cardboard tubes from their wrapping paper. You will get all the cardboard tubes you’ll ever need and then some.

Before you advertise the program to the public go through your tubes and try to select the ones that are about an inch and a half to two inches wide and about three feet long. Think of these as being “standard size.” You want the size of the tubes and the thickness of the cardboard for those tubes actually used in combat to be standard for all participants. The point is, after all, to be the last one with a cardboard tube still intact.

If you can, make the program registration required and base the number allowed to participate off the number of standard sized tubes you have.

Make sure in your promotional materials that you state that the tubes will be provided by the Library!

The cardboard tube fight is the apex of the program, but it isn’t the entirety of the program. Before you battle you must have armor. Pre-cut cardboard shields, markers, duct tape, yarn and extra cardboard tubes and cardboard boxes are all perfect for making all kinds of armor including gauntlets and helmets. The armor has the added benefit of identifying which team the kids are going to be one. Let them decorate their tubes in the team colors too. The teams need to be even (because, once again the team with the most intact cardboard tubes is the winner.) So if you have uneven teams, pull in a teen volunteer. In fact, I highly recommend having a teen volunteer help out at this program. Their help is INVALUABLE and then they can jump in to the fray if needed.

Before you allow them to start the battle it helps to read the rules again. Then they are fresh in everyone’s mind. Also before you battle, take lots of pictures. The armor they create will be amazing.

For a reward beyond the satisfaction of having made awesome armor and battled the hardest I got some cheap plastic trophies from a party supply store and a cheap plastic medal. I let the kids battle until it was obvious that one team was the clear winner. Then there was the problem of the fact that there wasn’t just one kid left standing. So I let them battle until only one kid had a tube. It was the largest guy in the room and one of the smallest girls in the end round. The girl was so quick and good at cardboard tube fighting that the guy ended up surrendering and letting her break his tube. She won the medal and a trophy (she was on the winning team too.) Most of the kids took their armor home with them and everyone had a great time.