On the last weekend of August, a few friends and I drove out to the south side of Lake Simcoe to celebrate a birthday. It was the first real camping trip we all did together as friends; I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I gladly took a backseat and didn’t plan at all.
Typical with camping trips there were an assortment of games. This time around the beach/camping fun including hacky-sack, frisbee, throwing a football, disc-golf, and spike ball. It had been a while since I played games like hacky-sack or frisbee, so it was fun to play again (even though I didn’t realize we were playing games so I wore pants!). I had heard of spike ball before, but I usually played volleyball. But after watching a few rounds on day one, by day two I felt ready to start playing.
Spike ball is set up with a circular net that rests on the ground (sand, in this case). It is raised about 6 inches off the sand by 6 yellow posts and holds the stretchy, black netting tight in the middle. The game is usually played with four players – two teams, standing next to each other – spaced evenly around the netting and at least 6 feet away from the net. The ball is a bit bigger than a bocce ball but is soft like a hand-ball.
To start, one player will serve to their opposite, and the receiver must get the ball back to the net within a maximum of three touches between them and their teammate. The touches are similar to volleyball – you can only touch the ball one time in a row and then your partner has to touch it again. Once the ball hits the net, the other team must play it back. A point is scored when a team can’t rally it back, or if the ball bounces twice on the net.
The concept is simple, but is it very fun! You might find yourself scrambling around the net on the completely opposite side, or chasing down balls into the lake. We had some pretty long rallies that left us laughing and out of breath. I had a ton of fun.
When I played there were five of us playing in total, so one player would get a small break. This allowed us to play for about two hours. Lately, I’ve been spending time around my boyfriend’s friends and finding myself awkward and “unathletic” because the game of choice isn’t my forte. This is more about me putting pressure on myself! The guys were all super supportive and happy that I played with them.
Playing the games with the guys did a few things for me. It helped me step out of my comfort zone and become completely immersed in a new game. Playing spikeball also allowed me to build new friendships through a mutually fun experience. I felt welcome into the group and would feel comfortable to play again.
Aside from the game being so fun, I was constantly aware that I was the only woman playing all of the games and playing consistently. Throughout the whole trip I was the only woman who attempted hacky sack, frisbee, or disc golf. One woman played a round of spike ball on the first day, and she had fun, but she ended up leaving that night. And another woman played catch with a baseball and mitch, but nothing else.
Noticing the majority of women sitting around and being cold helped me to realize that this trip was all about the play – that’s how we kept warm. Exercise does not always have to be structured or planned so I need to take advantage of all the fun, simple games that can help me stay active and happy. Overall, this trip helped me to realize how much fun the simple games can be.
Lastly, posting this blog has helped me realize how many pictures I don’t take of myself! Some of the action shots provided were from myself (the guy reaching up for the spike ball, and the hacky-sack photo). It was fun to take action shots! I’m also excited to start taking more pictures of myself.
Cami is a PhD candidate at Western University studying the ethics of women’s sports science. Her studies stem from her past as a professional volleyball player and personal trainer. Now she prefers to climb rocks, tend her vegetable garden, camp, hike, surf and play in the water.