If your youth has attended Camp Timpoochee or Camp Cherry Lake with the UF 4-H Camping Program, they have had the chance to play GaGa Ball. At this point, I am sure you are wondering what kind of name is GaGa ball, but GaGa ball has a rich history and is not just a made up name. GaGa is translated from Hebrew as “touch-touch”. It is said to have originated in Israel, but it is also a popular game at camps around the United States. GaGa Ball is a version of dodgeball, and is just as fun.
GaGa ball is not only fun to say, but it is really easy to learn. First you need a place to play. GaGa ball is played in a GaGa pit. To learn how to build your own pit, see the How To: Build a GaGa Ball Pit article, otherwise use a friend’s already existing pit. Next, you need a ball. GaGa balls are not specific, although I do recommend a heavy duty dodgeball. The rules of the game vary place to place, but in Escambia County we like to play by the following rules:
- You hit the ball with your hands.
- If the ball hits you below the knee, you are out.
- You can get out if the ball bounces of the wall and hits you below the knee.
- If you hit the ball out of the pit, you are out.
- If you hit someone in the face, you are out.
- When the game is progressing slowly, the leader can call “Hands-In”. Hands in means everyone who is already out, can put their hands over the wall of the pit and help get others still in, out.
Rules can be made and altered to fit the group that is playing the game, although the first two rules are staples of the game.
What’s the Big Deal?
The game is a great way to expend extra energy during day camps, but it also is a great way to build and practice life skills. First off, youth are put in situations in every game where they have to practice decision making, discipline, resiliency, and many other life skills 4-H strives to instill in our youth. Of course they have to practice their conflict resolution skills as there will inevitably conflicts that arise from their competitive natures. Most importantly by playing GaGa ball you are practicing a healthy lifestyle as you run about the pit chasing the ball. GaGa ball teaches many important lessons, and is a bunch of fun to boot. So when the next person says let’s play GaGa ball, give it a try and embrace the challenge.