Why Dodgeball Doesn’t Belong at Camp…

Dodgeball is a game found at camps, schools, and churches everywhere.  It is pulled out on rainy days, for large groups, and whenever programming staff can’t think of anything better.  It is a game that almost everyone knows how to play, so it is an easy and convenient option.

But dodgeball has almost no redeeming qualities.

While this game is fun for a select few individuals, it often violates the 3 Needs list.  Anything that violates those needs should automatically be suspect.  But what are the specific reasons it needs to go?

It encourages picking on the little guy.

Think about the way dodgeball is presented in most movies.  It is used as a way to know the ‘cool’ kids from everyone else; there are almost always a few kids who are picked on and scared to play.  This scenario is used in movies because it mirrors real life.  In dodgeball, the object of the game is to be the last one standing; picking on the little guy is the easiest way to achieve this.  And unlike other athletic games like capture the flag or ice hockey, where people can use a variety of skills, dodgeball only has two skills required.  If you don’t have the ability to throw or catch well, you will lose.

It is individual.

Though some variations exist that require teamwork, the basic premise of the game is that you need to dodge the balls yourself, and be the last one standing based on your own talent.  Sure, you want the other people on your ‘team’ to do well because it benefits you, but there isn’t any actual teamwork involved.  Camp is a place to connect with others and interact in ways not generally available; dodgeball does not advance this mission.

It has no moral values.

Most other games at camp have a lesson to be learned.  Counselors and other staff can use the game or activity to share moral lessons (teamwork, patience, creativity, etc.).  Dodgeball has no positive morals to be shared.  People playing learn to attack, win for themselves, and cheer when others do poorly.  None of these are lessons you want to encourage.  Try to think of a positive lesson that comes out of this game; you will be hardpressed to think of one.

It is unoriginal.

If none of the above reasons have affected your perception of dodgeball, then perhaps this one will finally sway your thinking.  It is a game played everywhere.  Campers have no reasons to come to your campsite to play the game.  They can play it at school, at church, at parties, and basically anywhere a large group is gathered.  Playing dodgeball on your campsite does nothing to encourage campers to return.  Sure, there are the handful of campers who look forward to the game, but they will be just as eager to play another game that will show of their athleticism if dodgeball is no longer an option.

A few exceptions:

Black light:  No one can actually do well in this game, and it’s more about the atmosphere than winning.  Still not the best option, but acceptable.

Dodgeball camp:  If your entire group of campers comes specifically with the idea of playing dodgeball, then you’ve chosen the one time when this game can be a great unifier and team builder.  In this case, dodgeball actually serves to reach a population otherwise unreached.

Other games to consider including:

Fun Group Games

Capture the Flag Variations

Dodgeball Variations

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