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A Fun Camping Game For The Whole Family

Ladderball is my favorite "throw something at a target" campsite game. Throwing the bolos at the ladder is addictive - and watching the bolos wrap themselves around the rungs is fun every single time!

ladderball set

What you need

To play ladder ball, you need a ladderball set. It includes a "ladder" and a set of bolos. A bolo is just 2 golf balls attached by a cord.

ladderball bolo

Most purchased sets come with 6 bolos: 3 each of 2 colors.

You can buy a set at a camping store or online, or you can make your own using PVC pipe or wood.

My friends built this set using wooden dowels.

homemade ladderball set

They found the plans online, and said that it was easy to make.

ladderball set with carrying case

If you decide to buy a ladderball set, be sure to get a sturdy one.

This set gets great reviews for durability. It  comes with its own carrying case!

How to play ladderball

This is an easy game to learn!

Players stand at the starting line.

If you want to play by the official rules, stand 15 feet/4.6 m from the ladder.

If you don't care about official rules, put the starting line wherever you want!

You can even have more than one line: one for the little kids, one for the older ones, one for the grandparents....

Players toss the bolos at the ladder.

The first player tosses all 3 of the bolos.

Then the second player tosses all 3 bolos.

You can toss the bolo in whatever way works for you. I find that underhand works best for me.

You can even bounce the bolo off the ground. As long as it ends up on a ladder rung, you score.

Add up the points.

If you're playing with really little children, you might want to ignore the points and just play for fun.

That's all there is to it!


Scoring is very straightforward:

  • A bolo that lands on the top rung earns 3 points.
  • A bolo on the middle rung earns 2 points.
  • A bolo on the bottom rung earns 1 point.

If a bolo is knocked off by another bolo, it doesn't earn points.

You can also earn bonus points:

  • If all 3 bolos land on the same rung, you earn 1 bonus point.
  • If 1 bolo lands on each rung, you earn 1 bonus point.

The maximum points possible in a round is 10.

That's when you get all 3 bolos on the top rung).

3 + 3 + 3 + 1 bonus point = 10

bolos on ladderball set

In this round so far, gold has 5 points (2 + 2 + 1) and white has 7 (3 + 3 + 1).

How to win

The first player to reach exactly 21 points is the winner.

If you go over 21 points, the points for that last round don't count.

If there is a tie, continue playing until one player wins a round by at least 2 points.

Alternate scoring method

This is more complicated, and we don't usually use it - but you might like to! It makes for a longer game.

  • After each round, count the scores. 
  • The difference between the scores goes to the high scorer. The other player gets nothing.
  • If both have the same score, no one gets points.

Look at the photo above. If we score with the alternate method, here's what happens:

White: 3 + 3 + 1 = 7
Gold: 2 + 2 + 1 = 5

7 - 5 = 2 White gets 2 points and Gold gets none.

Safety first!

Keeping a few basic guidelines in mind will keep everyone safe and happy:

  • Toss the bolos gently
  • Use the bolos just for what they are intended. Don't lob them around. They can hurt!
  • Don't walk in front of the players.
soft ladderball bolos

If you will be playing with small children, consider using these soft bolos instead of standard golf balls.

Now that you know how to play Ladderball, why not check out some more fun camping games?

Visit The Camping Family home page for tips on planning your next camping trip.

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