"They" say that most of us only have five to seven truly life-changing memories - we can remember 5 to 7 moments in our lives when the direction we were traveling was changed by an event. One of these moments for me was discovering a Karl Rohnke book in 1990 - Quicksilver (and eventually meeting Karl - I sort of blend these two events together). His work helped me to see what I was destine to do - use adventure education to help others.
Over the years I've collected a wide range of Rohnke memories. Two are most notable to me - the day when Karl joined one of my workshops when I was presenting in Maine years ago, and being honored with the Karl Rohnke creativity award presented by AEE. Today, I am honored and humbled to say we are friends.
Just the other day Northeastern Illinois University's T.E.A.M. Events hosted a "Rohnke Workshop" of activities and insights from this inspirational educator. I always take away something from Karl - a new activity (Its Raining Corks!!), relearning an old favorite (Five-a-Side Flatball), a phrase of words that "just works" ("Avoid 'breaking into' the group's process - it stifles creativity), or just plain inspiration from a man who started creating "happenings" back in the 70s for groups of all ages (Karl posed, "The word 'activity' is overused, I think we simply create 'happenings.'"). And he's still making happenings happen!
Karl, a GREAT BIG THANK YOU my friend, for all that you do! And, "By the way, I'm wearing the smile you gave me!" You're the tops!!
Here are a couple gems from the workshop:
It's Raining Corks (The name I gave this activity - Karl likes to leave the naming open to those who need to do so.) Karl brought out a couple large zip-lock bags full of (wine-bottle sized) corks - had to be at least 200! (I'm thinking of using a bunch of wiffle golf balls for this - I don't have that many corks!!) He gave a group of about 12 players a tarp to hold open. He then poured the corks into the center of the tarp. The Challenge: Launch the corks, flip the tarp over, and then attempt to catch as many corks as possible. An experiential site to be sure. Lots of ways to spin this one. Here's the video experience for you:
Five-a-Side Flatball (Earliest version in print that I could find, Rohnke's The Bottomless Bag, 1988, most recent, The Bottomless Bag Revival, 2004.) I learned this one back in the early 90s. At the time Karl was using a semi-inflated Beach Ball - hence the "flat" in Flatball. These Beach Flatballs would hold out for a while but they tend to split after some solid action (so, not the "best" prop). At the workshop he showed us the orbs he picked up at a Walmart. They are a vinyl-type material sold as a youth playground ball. You are able to inflate (and deflate) the ball with a pump & needle (good for the traveling player/team builder). Inflate the ball half way and you have a more playable, long-lasting, Flatball. Basically, it's a 5 on 5 competitive game. Teams face up about five feet apart (this closeness is a purposeful part of the activity - being further apart increases reaction time). The ball can only be hit with hands and players are allowed to take a pivot step forward when hitting. The objective is to get the ball between the legs of the opposing team. If the ball travels up above the waist it does not count as a point. Play to three, win by two (or just play to three and switch things up). It's a nice energetic game that can be played in small spaces. Here's some action to get the idea:
Have fun out there! Why not!
Circle the Circle was one of the first team building activities I learned way back in the day. The basic idea: The group circles up and holds hands. I Hula-Hoop (or two) is placed over the top of a pair of hands (after you ask the two to let go of each other for a moment, and then re-grasp). Then, the (timed or not) challenge is to move the Hoop around the circle without any of the hand links coming apart. Sometimes I change this activity up by using webbing circles (of a variety of sizes) instead of Hoops. And, how about moving a small PVC Cube around a group of hand-holding participants!!
Recently one of my Adventure Education Curriculum Design students (that's him in the picture) spontaneously came up with this variation when he discovered his group of fourth graders were struggling to stay focused with this one. He tied a hoop into a circle of webbing. Then he asked all his fourth graders to grab hold of the webbing. "Without letting go of the webbing," he said, "let's see if we can get this hoop all the way around the circle back to the beginning." Awesome! He said there was 100% turn-around in engagement!
Of course after I saw this my mind went to "what else!!" I'm thinking about tying in a bunch of other things into the webbing - maybe something between each pair (e.g., webbing circles, screaming monkeys, deck rings, a bucket of water!!). Some things will have to travel in one direction. Other things have to go the other way. In the end, everything has to travel 360 degrees (around or not??) the webbing.
Let me know what you come up with!! Potential!!??
All the best,
On Sale Now!
Dr. Chris Cavert is an internationally known author, speaker, and trainer in the area of adventure-based activity programming and its relation to community and pro-social behavior development.
This blog is a space for hands-on programable fun - energetic activities and ideas that can be used as a means to bring people together; activities and ideas we as educators can add to our social development curriculums.