READING — This summer, a group of 7- to 16-year-olds delivered from grave peril this quiet town just north of Boston, armed only with toy weapons and their own wherewithal. In a single week, they contained a zombie threat that emerged on the campus of Austin Preparatory School, and also managed to identify and defend a helpless strain of human mutants that materialized simultaneously.
Yes, they were just pretending. But this was no backyard game. At Nerf Zombie Camp and the other programs organized by Guard Up, a company that runs summer camps and year-round activities, play is serious business, although it remains a laughing matter.