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Kinder Games

By Billy | April 26, 2011

Today I swung on swings in the park.  Someday soon I’ll have to take photos exclusively of the park.  Maybe I’ll do that tonight!  Night photos of a big playground will be sweet.
As I was swinging, I remembered a game from my childhood.  As kids we seemed to look for every opportunity to throw things at eachother.  No wonder I’ve lost count of stitches and staples and trips to the ER.
This week I introduced the kids to my favorite childhood game, Army Ball Tag.  The premise of the game is that.  OK, we were kids.  There’s no premise.  You want to hit other kids with the ball, but you don’t want to be hit by the ball.  Also, it’s more fun (read: dangerous) if you have a stick or something in your hand.  So Army Ball Tag manifested as this: One kid has a soccer ball that has been badly abused by the ferocious dog and no longer fills with air.  It travels slow but is not painful if you get hit in the head.  Headshots are illegal and forbidden.  There is no shame greater than being one to hit someone else in the head with the ball in Army Ball Tag.  One kid has the ball, and he throws it at other kids.   If you’re hit in only the foot, your foot is dead.  You can walk on your knees, but not which ever foot has died.  If you get hit in the leg, your leg is dead.  Lower back – know lower body movement whatsoever.  Arms, same deal.  Chest, upper back – instant death.  It’s very realistic, you see.  Then you get a “weapon.”  Your weapon is how you defend against the ball thrower.  I liked best to use a short weapon — at biggest a tennis racquet.  Hockey sticks were effective at displacing the ball so the thrower had to run more and tire themself out more quickly, but it was easy to lose a hand in the blocking process.  Tennis racquets had no torque to move a soccer ball very far, but they had a big blocking surface area and could be turned sideways for a quick swat away when the ball was laying dead at your feet.  They worked effectively for defending someone else, though that was not necessary because really it’s a free for all.  Though I have have sometimes had people cover me with their tennis racquets as I lay paralyzed on the ground and been protected while my friends ran away if need be.
The swing game is pretty much exactly the same, onl your on the swings.  I think we eventually decided to use a single foot as our weapon, and if anywhere else on your body was touched, you became “it.”  That includes your hands, so watch out.  Yep.  Pretty much you swing on swings and someone throws a ball at you.  You can kick it, and even try to get the person next to you out with the ball.  It’s pretty much lava, and there’s no teamwork unless you want there to be.  I seem to recall going out of the way to block it for someone else if they were at the high part of their swing and couldn’t block in time.  The benefit of this is simply they’ll have your back in the future.  Nobody defends a selfish player.
The kids have their own weird games.   One you throw the ball at other people, and if they don’t catch it but get hit, they go “out.”  The only way to get out of “out” is for the person who “out”ed you to get out.  If you’re holding the ball, you’re only allowed to take 3, 5, or 10 steps depending on how big the playing field is.  Unless you’re too young to understand that rule the first time it’s explained to you, then you can pretty much run up to people and throw it at them from 2 feet away and they’ll pretend to get it by it and get out.  This game has an alternative where people high five you when you’re out and you get back in.
These games are fun and pretty good for people of every age.  One game that I haven’t played since high school but played with Klemens after church on Easter Sunday was Paperball!  In band class in high school, when the director worked with the woodwinds, the brass and percussion would have the day off.  They’d get roudy and disrupt woodwind practice, so Mr. M made a rule.  Anything you do must be done while seated.  Once you sit, you can’t move.  The best games (things) come from the simplest rules (like the universe, for example.  4 rules.  Done.)  So.  The game originated by some guy taking off his tie and making it into a ball.  Then we played a volleyball like game with the tie-ball.   Thus, Tie Ball was born.  If you miss hitting the ball when it’s hit to you, you’re out.  If you hit it unrealistically far away from someone else, you’re out.  If you hit it straight at someone else and there’s no nice parabola to be seen, thus making it impossible for someone to hit it effectively, you’re out.  No double touch either.
Eventually this game utilized a ball of paper, so it could be enjoyed by anyone wearing any clothes, and after the final concert in April, we had a month of nothing but Paper Ball competition.  This involved music stands being set up as a tennis-like net, and teams being established.  Different playing methods evolved, like side by side and front and back, etc.  Paper ball is a simple game whose goal, until you are fighting competitively head-to-head, is to keep the game going as long as possible.  If you’re just playing in a circle, you leave the circle if you hit it too fast, too far from someone, if you touch it but it falls to the ground, or if you had a reasonble chance to get it but you didn’t.
Hum.  What are your favorite games to play as / with kids?  Paperball is literally my all time favorite game.  I love Ice Hockey, but the gear and the necessity of ice and all the stuff that encumbers it in its current manifestation (maybe I just need to wait for an Austrian winter!) makes it lose some overall points.  Paperball can be played anywhere by anyone.  When the circle dwindles down to two people, it becomes super intense and really fun to watch and play, and just the same, it can be played by two people for a long time without boredom ensuing.  You can do things like add a spin between hits, or play left handedly only, or play in a pool with a sponge in the summer, or all sorts of changes.  What other games can we play here in Austria?

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