A game that is believed to have originated in Israel is now being played on five pits in Culver Woodcraft Camp. Gaga ball, described as a kinder, gentler form of dodgeball, has started to become a staple at camps and schools across the country.
Gaga translates to “touch, touch” in Hebrew. It was brought to the United States by Israeli counselors working at Jewish summer camps in the 1960s. The resurgence of the game started approximately 10 years ago, but this is the first year for the game at Culver.
Woodcraft Camp Director Heike Spahn said via email her daughter played gaga during a class trip and thought it would be a good fit at Culver. Spahn introduced the game during Junior Woodcraft Camp as a class “and the kids (and staff) loved it.”
The cool thing about gaga is that anyone can play.
“I was looking for fun activities which would get the kids out of the cabins and didn’t require a lot of supervision,” Spahn said. “The cool thing about gaga is that anyone can play. Butterflies, Beavers, and counselors can all play together in a safe yet fun environment.”
The game starts with players striking the ball underhand, trying to hit one another below the knees to eliminate their opponents. If the ball goes over the wall, or if it is caught before bouncing, the person who launched it is out of the game. Culver is using rubber kickballs for its games.
The game is easy to learn and typically only lasts a few minutes, making it ideal for the shorter attention spans of younger players. The gaga ball pits are located close to Divisions 4 and 6; one in the Beavers side; and one each in the Butterflies and Cardinals area of camp.