Here’s the scoop on the new Philly Stones league in Fairmount Park
WHAT: The name is Philly Stones, a fun new game that combines bocce with elements of golf, chess, billiards and basketball.
WHERE: Stones is an outdoor game designed on a custom course, and the founders behind Philly Stones have started up leagues and events in several area locations. The newest location kicked off about a month ago in a wooded area near Mt. Pleasant Mansion in Fairmount Park, one of the largest urban green spaces in the country.
WHEN: League play takes place every Wednesday night for 8 weeks. The spring league is in full swing, but the summer league starts toward the end of June (check PhillyStones.com for upcoming registration details; signups are $50 for a team of two – stats, scores and recaps are posted weekly).
Not quite sure about committing to league play for a couple of months? No sweat. Every weekend morning through August from 10 a.m. until noon you can drop by for Open Stones to observe, learn, and hop in for some game action free of charge (RSVP your one-hour time slot here).
WHO: You, that’s who. Created by local guy Chris Kinka and his partners John Janick and Jason Sizak on a camping trip about 10 years ago, the game of Stones can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
HOW: By now you’re surely wondering, “Ok, so how the heck do you play Stones?” There are all kinds of nuances to gameplay strategy, but it only takes a “hole” or two to get the hang of it – and it’s extra helpful having Chris on hand to tour the course layout and provide some of his tips and tricks.
At its core, “Stones is a ball toss game played through a defined course with obstacles and boundaries. Teams throw their stones at a target ball with the closest ones scoring points. With each round, the target ball advances on the course, and when the end of the course is reached, the team with the most points wins.”
Various obstacles and course boundaries come into play. Strategy incorporates everything from offense to defense, even selecting which size stone to throw for a particular turn (think Nintendo’s classic, Ice Hockey, with a skinny guy, a fat guy and two medium guys). You can check out the Philly Stones YouTube page for some in-depth tutorial videos.
WHY: Beyond the fact that it is – as I can personally attest – a fun new game, it’s also a great use of natural space in Fairmount Park. Kinka and his partners made their pitch to Philadelphia Parks Commission’s Pitch Your Passion contest, which they ultimately won the right to use a section of the park as the league’s “home” court.
Cornhole and bocce remain summertime classics, but Stones may just be the new “it” game that takes off, and right here in Philly’s backyard.
Be sure to follow Philly Stones League on Facebook and on the lookout for these other area locations and events:
Memorial Day Weekend: Stop by the PHS Pop-Up Beer Garden at the Viaduct Rail Park on 10th and Hamilton Streets this summer to play a sample stretch of Stones.
Early-June: The newest course opens at Prism Brewing in Lansdale.
June 10-12: Philly Stones will be part of Camp Bonfire, a summer camp for adults at Lake Owego in the Poconos.