“Speaking of child abuse, next stop grade school! Where he won’t be allowed to play tag because it encourages victimization. And he won’t be able to play dodgeball because it’s exclusionary and promotes aggression. Standing around is still okay. Standing around is still permitted but it won’t be for long because sooner or later some kid is gonna be standing around and his foot will fall asleep and his parents will sue the school and it will be goodbye [expletive] standing around!”- George Carlin
This past week, I was conducting a Civil War camp for students at a nearby school, the grade-levels ranging from entering fifth grade to entering high school. We took a lightning-tour through all the causes of war, and every major battle, person, and event that I could cram into the fifteen hours we spent together in those five days. Aside from me speaking to them using PowerPoints and showing battle scenes and clips from various movies, we had to pass the time in some other way, one which would be both educational and fun. The only thing that came to mind was dodgeball, a childhood favorite of…well…everyone. It also served as a way to reenact some of the battles we learned about. For Manassas, we split into two groups, North and South of course, and had to just march toward one another, firing off the dodgeballs. They had to stay shoulder to shoulder for two volleys before they were allowed to run around in the general insanity that would ensue in playing such a fun sport. For Fredericksburg, we set up a barricade using a giant gym mat, which one side, playing as the Confederates, had to hide behind while the Union attacked it. On the last day, we explored the trench warfare that developed in Petersburg, by giving barricades to both sides. There was one difference with our game, which we called “War Ball”, and that was if you got hit, you had to lay down like you were killed in battle. There were no sidelines and no catching the ball to make the thrower out. If you were hit anywhere, that was it, though sometimes we made an exception if someone got hit in the arm—they had to play the rest of the match with it behind their back as if it was amputated in a field hospital. Everyone had a blast, including myself, which makes the taboo surrounding this recreational activity all the more ridiculous.