Murbles, Gaga Ball among offbeat pastimes
By JOSEPHINE E. MENDEZ
daily mail staff
Pipestem Resort State Park is known for its beautiful scenery and pristine golf courses, but it also offers visitors some pastimes they might not have heard of before.
Want to get a group together to play Murbles? How about a rousing round of Gaga Ball?
Activity Director Kim Hawkins is responsible for bringing these unusual games to the park to keep its visitors entertained through their stay.
“(Murbles) is really easy to play,” Hawkins said. “You can play if you are 3 or 103.”
The story goes that it was invented by a man named Murray in 1979. He was tired of his neighbor continuously beating him at horseshoes so he create a game where he could actually win, thus Murbles was born.
The game is a played with seven half-pound balls that are 3 inches in diameter and made of high-density solid plastic. The name come from combining the first three letter of Murray and the last three letters of marbles to get Murbles.
Commonly played with two people, the players start by taking three Murbles of the same color. Once the colors are divided, one player throws a point ball three to 30 feet in any direction. The players then alternate throwing their Murbles at the point ball with the objective being to get their Murbles closest to the point ball.
Once all six Murbles are thrown, points are awarded to the player with the closest Murble. The player with the closest Murble in that round then gains control of the point ball, throwing it in any direction and beginning round two.
“Once people get started they can throw out the rules and make it their own game,” Hawkins said. “Another great thing about this game is that they are getting exercise and they don’t even realize it.”
To prove how easy it is for anyone to learn Murbles, Hawkins taught the game to a group of campers who were spending the weekend at the park.
Within a matter of minutes, even Nathan Lebentritt one of the youngest in the group at 9 years old, caught on and even claimed a few victories.
“I’m winning,” Nathan said. “I like this game a lot.”
Eventually, the group grew tired of the rules and started throwing the point ball into the woods to make the game more challenging.
“The game is very similar to horseshoes,” said Van Ottey, 61 and the oldest camper in the group. “It doesn’t take much athleticism and can really be played anywhere.”
Hawkins also taught the group how to play Gaga Ball, which originated from Israel and translates to “touch, touch” in Hebrew. It is similar to the game of Dodgeball and is played in a octagon shaped pit.
To start the game, each player stands inside the pit with one hand on the wall. Then the referee throws in the Gaga Ball where it must bounce three times. The players yell, “Ga” for the first two bounces and “Go” for the third bounce, after which the ball is in play. They are then able to slap the ball with the palm of their hands in order to try to hit their opponents with the ball below their knees.
Once a player is hit they must leave the pit and the last person standing is named the winner. To speed up the game, a second ball can be thrown into the pit.
“These games are just a lot of fun and keeps everyone active,” Hawkins said “They also provide our visitors with their daily dose of vitamin N: Nature.”
The Pipestem Resort State Park, in southeastern West Virginia near Hinton, offers slacklining, archery, paddle boats, mini golf, horseback riding and more. Along with its numerous outdoor activities, the Nature Center allows guests to learn more about the plants and animals that inhabit the more than 4,000 acres of land.
“There is no greater place than the outdoors,” Hawkins said. “People will run out of time before they run out of things to do.”
Contact writer Josephine Mendez at email@example.com or 304-348-7917. Follow her at www.lifeofanintern-charlestondailymail.blogspot.com.