Ga-ga, a summer camp game similar to dodgeball, has become a popular activity at kids' birthday parties and family gatherings.
When the sting of a rubber ball overshadows a love of the game of dodgeball, kids tend to opt for another form of entertainment. There is a safer alternative, though: Ga-ga, a game that originated in Israel half a century ago but has been a summer camp classic for more than a decade, retains the basic rules of dodgeball but loses the rubber ball, the above-the-waist hits and eliminations, and the potential blows from the kid with perfect aim and a cannon for an arm. Played in an octagon-shaped pit (the Ga-ga pit) similar to an above-ground pool, a Nerf-like soccer ball is tossed into the rink. Once the ball hits the ground and everyone yells "Ga-ga," all participants attempt to bat the balls downward to hit an opponent below the waist in order to eliminate them (in some games, only below-the-knee hits result in eliminations). Balls can be hit off the pit walls or directly at another player. There is no throwing or catching, and kids hit above the waist stay in the game. Whether the players opt to fly solo or form teams, the game continues until all opponents are eliminated.
Ga-ga has many variations and can also be played in an open area such as a backyard or park with a few rules changes. Increasingly, there are venues with Ga-ga pits available for league play and birthday parties. Pictured above is one of the eight playing pits at Ultimate GaGa in Syosset, Long Island, the first indoor arena to feature the action-packed game.
Also see: Retro Sports for Kids
Find birthday parties featuring classic games in the NYC area