By: “H” Rothenberg Triple C Camp Co-Owner and Director
When we were kids, everyone seemed to love playing “dodge ball”! Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn even made a movie glorifying it in 2004. What’s there not to like? It’s competitive, intense, fair rules, you get to throw things and there is a winner! This is Darwinism at its best… Survival of the fittest.
As the world of child development became my profession it occurred to me that taking an object and throwing it as hard as I could at another individual was not necessarily the most beneficial activity for boys and girls at our camp.
In 2010, my wife and co-director and I went to a camp conference in New Jersey and a vendor had an enclosure for a game called Ga Ga! I had loads of memories flooding back in my mind about my days at a youth group retreat where we played this game in the ‘80s! I remembered GA GA was AWESOME and safe. So, after we played a few rounds, we decided to purchase a Ga Ga court for TRIPLE C CAMP.
Over the last four years, Ga Ga has been a favorite amongst our campers, and our staff. It is played in an enclosed court and every one can play. At Triple C, we play with kids our own age with a playground type ball. The object is to keep the ball on the ground and hit it with an open hand. Every player is on their own…no teams here! If it makes contact with ANY player at ANY time below the knee, you are OUT. The campers love it! We hear regularly that this is their favorite game. It is dodge ball on the ground! It is in an enclosed space where the campers are constantly moving. The campers learn confidence, sharing, fears, and the excitement of winning and losing. We believe in competition at TRIPLE C CAMP because it exists in life. The opportunity to get out is healthy. Whether you are a top athlete or an emerging one, Ga Ga is for everyone as the campers are all on a level playing field. The best part is that the children are constantly moving. We are always looking for activities that add to the children’s fitness and Ga Ga fits the bill!
The next time you are at camp, make your way to the Ga Ga court located next to the NEST and have your camper teach you how to play. You will have fun, laugh and see the all the positives of this favorite game of our campers. Remember to keep moving and watch out for the ball when it hits off the wall…or to hit it off the wall and catch your fellow players off guard. You will not be disappointed, Ga Ga is loved by all!
Official Rules of Ga Ga (Israeli Dodgeball)
Ga means “hit” in Hebrew
One person who is not a player is designated as the referee. The referee is the sole authority during play.
1. The referee begins play only after all players are standing in the gaga court and have indicated that they are ready to start the game.
2. One player tosses the ball up in the air, while all other players begin with one foot touching the perimeter wall. Players yell “ga” on the first, second, and third bounce of the ball. On the third bounce the ball is in play, and all may move.
3. Players hit the ball with their hands only, and may not carry or throw the ball: it must be hit with an open hand.
4. If the ball contacts a player or a player’s clothing below the knee, that player is out.
5. If the ball goes out of the gaga court, the last player to touch the ball is out.
6. If a player catches the ball before it bounces, the player who had the last contact with the ball is out.
7. Once the player hits the ball, he or she must wait until the ball touches someone/something else before hitting it again (no double touches).
8. If there are only two players remaining, a player may hit the ball up to 3 times in a row. The ball is “rejuvenated” by contact with the wall, and the hit count resets.
9. Teaming, or intentional passing of the ball to other players is not allowed.
10. Players who are out must leave through the doors, not over the walls.