Local Boy Scout raises money for Gaga ball pit

Boy Scout Eli Dowker is organizing a fundraiser to bring a gaga ball pit to Springfield’s Garner Street Park. SUBMITTED

In an effort to achieve Eagle Scout rank, a Springfield Boy Scout is organizing a fundraiser to get money from local businesses and residents to install a gaga ball pit at Garner Street Park.

With a total of 49 merit badges earned, as well as 14 required to become an Eagle Scout, Eli Dowker now has his sights set on completing a community service project and has chosen to build a gaga ball pit.

Dowker recently spoke at the Springfield Mayor and Alderman’s Council meeting last month, where he provided details and his work with Parks and Recreation Director Terry Martin on the project. Following his speech, the board unanimously approved a resolution accepting the donation to the Garner Street Park.

“This is a great Eagle Scout project,” said Mayor Ann Williams. “We’re really excited about it.”

A more modern and intense version of dodgeball that is played inside an octagon, gaga, meaning “touch” in Hebrew, is a game that combines dodging, hitting, running and jumping, with the goal of being the last remaining player. after everyone else has been eliminated.

Players hit the ball with their hands and are out of the game if the ball hits them at or below the knee. It can be played by a group of individual players or in teams, as well as head-to-head matches.

“The Gaga ball is almost like a dodgeball in a way,” Dowker said. “You have an octagonal pit and the goal is to be the last man standing. You can have as many people in the pit as possible. The rules are that you can’t touch the ball with your legs, only with your hands, and you kick the ball to try to get the other person out.

“The Gaga Ball is the kids’ craze now,” said City Manager Ryan Martin. “My son loves it, and it will be a great addition to Garner Street Park, especially for some of the younger kids.”

After starting as a Cub Scout for three years, Dowker said he has been a Boy Scout for three years and is ahead of schedule in his work to achieve Eagle rank.

“Most of the guys I know who get their Eagle Scouts are closer to 17 or 18 years old. You have a deadline to complete all the requirements to get your Eagle Scout by age 18 and I’m almost 16, so I’m kind of early. I could have been done by now, but I started taking my time.

Based on price estimates, the total cost of installing a Gaga ball pit is approximately $3,400. This includes a Gaga Ball high wall kit, with rubber stall mats and a metal ruler board.

As of June 4, Dowker had raised $775 of his $3,000 goal. Donations to the project can be made through a GoFundMe page, available online at

“I haven’t seen a lot of gaga ball pits around here,” Dowker said. “That’s why I thought it would be a good idea to build one for my own community.” Almost every scout reserve I go to has gaga ball pits, so everyone I know in scouting loves it. I hope the children in our community will too.