Out of the corner of his eye, the Scout sees a yellow ball flying across the room and he ducks sideways at the last minute. The ball whizzes over his shoulder, missing him by inches. Grinning, he stands back up and looks for his attacker, but that turns out to be a big mistake. The next ball is already in the air, thrown by an experienced older Scout who correctly anticipates the movements of his prey. Pow. It’s a full face shot, the green ball bouncing off the Scout’s forehead as he stumbles backwards. He is out for the rest of the game (unless someone calls a jailbreak) and sadly joins the other victims on the other side of the room. Such is the Troop dodge ball experience.
Traditional dodge ball is a lot of fun for Scouts of all ages, but serious players are always looking for ways to kick it up a notch. Many units have developed their own rule variations and competitive traditions to increase the adrenaline rush. (Back in the day, Scouts played with basketballs, which took more courage and skill than today’s games which are generally restricted to much softer projectiles!)
“What about playing dodge ball on trampolines?” asked a Scout during his Patrol Leader’s Council meeting “There is a trampoline place in Milpitas called Great Jump that has a dodge ball court and they let you play as much as you want.” After some discussion, the boys decide this is a place they want to visit and an outing is organized.
The Troop arrives on a Saturday around 3:00 in the afternoon, having been assured that there would be few other jumpers so late in the day. Check-in is quick and easy. Show your signed waiver. Pay $14 (special price for Scouts) for a two-hour ticket. Put on your free non-skid socks. Walk over to the main floor and start jumping. Within minutes there are 24 Scouts in yellow Troop shirts bouncing up and down all over the place: knees bent on the landing to increase the inevitable upward thrust, hands massaging the air for balance, eyes focused forward, and the occasional butt landing to earn style points. It doesn’t take long for everyone to warm up for their anticipated competition.
The leaders herd the boys from the main trampoline, past the tables by the snack bar, and over to the dodge ball dome. They wait for a game in progress to end and for those players to leave. Then, a Great Jump Referee blows his whistle and Scouts erupt into the dodge ball arena, jumping and bouncing and flipping enthusiastically. Its takes some time for the leaders to establish order (the Scout Sign is meaningless to a boy that is upside down and spinning out of control!) but eventually, the teams are named, the rules are agreed, the captains chosen, a row of balls get laid out in the middle, and the competition begins.
For the next half hour, colored balls fly chaotically back and forth across the neutral zone as boys dodge and weave to avoid being hit. Tall Scouts catapult themselves up the sides of the play area to throw the ball down at the smaller Scouts with as much velocity as they can muster. On the other side, Scouts boldly jump out of harm’s way, knowing that there will be no hard landings. (Even when you fall, you bounce up again: sometimes even higher than you started.) The constant shouts of “you’re out” and “when can we go back in?” combine with the Referee’s regular instructions to keep it safe.
The Troop competes until there are so many other players waiting in line that the Referee has to end the Scout game and open the trampoline to everyone. The boys play for a while longer, but they are tired and head over to the drinking fountain. Legs are sore by this point, but jumping is fun and no one wants to sit around and waste the opportunity. The larger trampoline area beckons, and Scouts are practicing their flips when an announcer calls time. Our two hours are up and we have to leave. Tired and happy boys head to the cars and settle in for our drive back to the school.
Great Jump Sports is at 616 S. Main Street in Milpitas, close to the Great Mall. Call 408-957-8915 for reservations. They are introducing an overnight program (including the trampolines, dodge ball, large screen videos, and pizza.) You can join their Fan Page on Facebook and watch videos of people jumping on YouTube.)