Rafter Ball
Fred Plotkin

Am I the only one who recalls a Kinderland game called Rafter Ball? I don't know if it was unique to our bunk (#15, at Sylvan Lake in 1968) and group, or is it part of the great transmitted legacy of Kinderlandiana? The game was based on baseball, with runs, hits and outs, and played in 9 innings. And always late at night when the counselors were out and we were supposed to be asleep, or on long rainy, afternoons when we could not play outside.

We would choose up two sides and then draw up a batting order. To play, each team would stand at one side or the other under the central beam of the bunk (quite high for little guys) and launch a basketball or other heavy bouncing ball upwards. Occasionally, for variety, we used the small pink rubber ball made by Spalding, a ball that was universally known as a Spaldeen. If, when launched, the ball bounced once on the beam and went to the other side, it was a single. Twice was a double, thrice was a triple, four times was a home run, five times was an additional run, and so forth up to a grand-slam homer. If the ball managed to stay on the beam and not come down, I seem to recall that was considered a ground-rule double (though it might have been a home run). We would then all throw our sneakers at it to get the ball down and inevitably someone would be conked on the head either with the ball or sneakers.

If the ball was launched too high and went right over without hitting the beam and someone on the opposing team caught it, that was an out. The same if the ball was not launched high enough. If the opposing team did not catch it, that was a "ball," four of which led to a single (that is, a "base-on-balls") . If the ball bounced on the beam and came back to the side that launched it, that was a strike. Three strikes and you were out.

If we played well enough or if the counselors stayed out particularly late, we could get in a whole nine innings before retiring, exhausted, to our beds. I always felt that Rafter Ball should have been an event in the annual Peace Olympics, but then our game might have been found out. I attended camp until 1971, the last year at Sylvan Lake, so I have no idea if it has taken hold in the new camp or, for that matter, if the bunks have a high central beam that tempted little boys to heave huge, heavy balls up in the air at 10 pm, when lights were supposed to be out and we were tucked in, yet we had too much energy left in us to stay in bed and attempt to sleep.

--- Fred Plotkin, camper from 1962 to 1971.

To Previous             Back to the home page