Grown Men and a Giant Ball

It doesn't take much to entertain boys.

I remember a camping trip we took to the Outer Banks about six years ago. The boys set up a squirrel trap. It was a plastic box, with a stick attached to a string holding it up. They laid a path of peanuts to the box. They sat on the step of the camper and watched as a squirrel began grabbing the peanuts, breaking them open, and eating them. They giggled and laughed for hours, their faces alive with their potential conquest, which never quite happened.

It doesn't take much to entertain boys.

This past weekend Tim and I went on the Mountain View Men's Retreat. It was one of those "get away and be guys" type of things, focused on becoming men of God. There were about 80 of us there, and it was a lot of fun. The food was good. The accommodations were nice. The speakers and music were challenging.

But the highlight was the giant ball.

We had a series of challenges on Saturday afternoon, a little competition to get the blood flowing. We broke into eight teams, and played a series of four games. Our team was called Happy Hour on Everest (long story). After two semi-sedate indoor games, the teams moved out into the field for a game known simply as "Push the Ball." (Actually, we could have come up with some better names, but it was a church retreat). It involved a 5' inflated ball with a canvas cover, some cones, and nothing else.

Two teams at a time sent three players onto the field. The players poised at opposite ends of the field while the giant ball was placed in the center. When the command was given, the players charged the ball and attempted to push it across the other team's goal line.

We are men. We like simplicity.

We all watched as the first two teams gave their all for the glory of victory. The fast ones raced to get to the ball first, some launching their bodies at it like meteors. One young man went completely airborne, much to his delight and to the delight of the crowd. The big ones got behind the ball and stood their ground, pushing with all their might. It was like watching rhinos play soccer. Some matches went quickly; others looked more like 15-round heavyweight fights. Men were rolled over, pushed to the ground, trampled, exhausted, nearly decapitated. They risked life and limb and paralysis to move the ball. They screamed and groaned and laughed and cried. I watched. Discretion is the better part of valor.

It was spectacular. Ask any man what he remembers about the weekend, and he'll tell you. "The Giant Ball."

So last week, my boys, for the first time in years, set up the squirrel trap in the front yard. They brought the string in through the kitchen window and laid a path of peanut butter around the box. The next day, Tim and I were standing in the kitchen and noticed a squirrel in the yard. We pulled the string. And for a few glorious seconds, we had one. It raced around under the box like, I don't know, a crazy squirrel. We laughed hysterically and giggled and danced.

No, it doesn't take much to entertain boys.