Tom Heck, a long-time friend and fellow experiential educator passed through Dallas recently to hang out with me before a training he was delivering on the Makey Makey - check out Tom's TEDx talk on this innovative tech tool HERE. Tom is a creative powerhouse. If you want a little peek into Tom's world browse through his YouTube Channel videos - you'll see what I mean.
During our conversations (when we get together we have lots of different conversations, many of which weave in and out of each other) I was able to get Tom to tell me what some of his favorite activities were. Most of what he shared are found on his YouTube Channel and a few he described to me how he puts them into practice. (If you have time, don't stop after watching Tom's picks, there's lots more - use the link above to get to his channel.
Bonus Activity: Full Contact Piñata This is what happens when Tom has too much time on his hands!!
Have FUN out there my friends!
Al l the best,
Chris Cavert Ed.D.
To this day I remember my first Project Adventure workshop - 1990. Turnstile was one of the first activities our group attempted. I remember this activity because I wasn't very good at it. Now, I knew how to jump a rope by myself, but I never picked up the skill of jumping "into" a rope being turned by others - I truly remember being uncomfortable. What I liked about the process was that the facilitator had two ropes going. One for the challenge and one off to the side for practicing - those of use not ready for the challenge could practice as much as we wanted and then join the challenge when we were ready - or never join in at all. We could just keep practicing. (I'm sure this had something to do with Challenge by Choice!)
I couldn't find the earliest entry for The Turnstile, but here are the directions from the 1994 Second Edition of The Empty Bag Again by Karl Rohnke:
The added challenge to my first experience with The Turnstile was to see how many consecutive jumps we could perform, as a group, without missing "a beat". That meant once you got through to the other side after jumping you ran back to the starting side, got into line again so that you could keep the jumps going. So, as the challenge jumpers were working on the consecutive jumps, a number of use continued to practice until we felt ready to join into the count. Everyone was engaged and everyone was participating in a way that was comfortable to them at the time. And yes, I did eventually join into the jump count and logged in some points for the group - it was a heartfelt accomplishment I still remember! (Certainly I'm still part of the World Record team!)
Recently I was reintroduced to turnstile done in a new way (by my friends at Group Dynamix). The facilitator has a wide variety of challenges he/she can present to a group based on their readiness. In other words the range of challenges spans from easy to more difficult. Before I share my every-growing list of challenges with you there are several things you need to know: .
The Group Jump Challenge List
As noted above. You can start anywhere in the progression of challenges based on where you believe your group will initially find success. Then move them through as many as they can tackle within the time you have. Now, you can end with a success or not. What will your group need the most? (Failure is a powerful motivator and makes us think!!)
HERE'S WHERE YOU FIT IN
Okay, over the next week or so let's add to this list of challenges. Include your challenge in the Comments below or direct email me and I'll put them into this "ever-growing" list.
Have fun out there!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
This last week two different people asked me about the adventure education (related) books I would recommend reading (or having on ones shelf). I thought my answer would make a useful post as well. Choosing a Top 10 book list is no easy task since there are so many amazing books out there.
Here's how I approached this (current) list. I asked myself, "If I was approached by anyone interested in learning about team building but knew nothing about getting started much less the adventure education field (specifically facilities-based adventure education, also known as adventure-based education), what books would I recommend?" I decided to list the more contemporary choices, ones that can easily be found and purchased. If someone asked me about the "seminal" works to pick up related to adventure education the list would certainly be different (and worthy of another post).
The list below includes three categories: Theory (cognitive information related to facilities-based adventure education), Theory & Practice (cognitive information and experiential activities), and Practice (only experiential activities). I also included a link that will take you right to a source where you can purchase and find out more information about each book.
(NOTE: I used two purchase sources, Training Wheels - the store site owned and operated by Michelle Cummings, one of us, and Amazon. I just thought you might want the heads up if you plan to purchase multiple titles.)
Theory & Practice:
Practice (Just Activities):
Let me know what you think? I'd love to hear about your top book choices. Leave a comment below.
Have FUN out there!
Chris Cavert, Ed. D.
If you have some time next week, Nate shared some information with me about a live interview he'll be doing with Facilitating XYZ on Wednesday May 17th (2017) at 12:30 EST (and check out all the other live interviews with some amazing team builders - Solomon Masala, Mark Collard, Amy Climer, Dr. Rev. Jamie Washington, Peter Durand, Barbara MacKay, and Tanya O. Williams ).
About Nate's interview:
"Tune in for [the] conversation with Nate where [he'll] talk about how to link and layer activities, energy, and focus effectively as a facilitator, what are the essential behaviors for group facilitators to be successful, the importance of growth mindsets and much more!"
Nate Folan and I had the chance to sit down at the last AEE Conference to talk about his Top 10 activities (at that time). In all honesty, his first response was, "I use whatever is needed at the time - what's in front of me." I know that most of us feel this same way - we'll do what's best for the group at hand. So, I said, "well, if you were forced to share (like someone asking you what your Top 10 activities were), what would your Top 10 be right now?"
He was happy to share with us:
5 Handshakes in 5 Minutes - I've shared THIS VIDEO with you before, and it's worth sharing again. I like this version because it's about connecting with a number of people. In another version of "Handshakes" you do the handshake demonstrated with one other person, then you find a new partner. With this new partner you do the next demonstrated handshake, then you go find your last partner and do the first handshake with them. Then, you find a new partner. With this new partner you do the next demonstrated handshake, then go to your second partner to repeat the second handshake and finally go to your first partner again to do the first handshake before you find a new partner. And so on for five or six (or more) different handshakes. It becomes a fun high-energy scramble memory game. (40 different handshakes are found in Nate's book.)
I'm a Starfish - This is a really high energy activity requiring the group to "follow the leader" as he/she goes through a series of (again, energetic) animal specific movements. I saw Nate lead this one at an AEE Conference a couple years ago. There is no way to do this one justice through the written word. As soon as we can get some video of this I'll share it.
Here's the brief with the Starfish. Say to your group, "Okay, the idea here is to say what I say and do what I do. Got it? Great! Let's go!" Then crouch down into a squat (wait for them to squat), then jump up into the air extending your arms and legs out to the sides saying, "I'm a Starfish, I'm a Starfish, I'm a Starfish." Yes, you go back down into a squat before each, "I'm a Starfish." Then, choose another animal with a specific animal motion and pose. After four or five of these you and your group are pretty warmed up and having fun doing it! (This one is in Nate's book.)
Swat Tag - Nate likes this series of Swat Tag activities. He uses them to teach about choice, commitment, challenge and levels of risk taking.
The game "Swat" is found in the 1981 More New Games book. It was played with foam foils used for teaching fencing. I've included one of the pictures from the book (I honestly had hair like that!!).
The modern-day version still can be played in the sand, but most people play it in the grass or open floor area. You need one foam noodle (about half the size of the store-bought noodle - just cut a long noodle in half), a game spot (or hula-hoop) as the noodle spot and one game spot for every player in the group.
Swat 1: The noodle spot is placed down in the center of a large circle of players - be sure there is about a one-arm length of space between players. Each player is standing on his/her own spot. The noodle is placed down on top of the noodle spot. Since I like to play this one I go out into the center to be the first noodler. Players that are going to play must have at least one foot on a game spot (not the noodle spot). Okay. Me, the noodler picks up the noodle and I proceed to tag someone in the circle, below the waist, with the noodle. I then turn around and go back to put the noodle on the noodle spot - I want to do this quickly. The person I tagged follows me because he/she is required to get the noodle - becoming the next noodler. I MUST place the noodle ON the spot before I am released of duty. Once it's on the noodle spot the new noodler can pick up the noodle. Now, the new noodler can immediately tag me back if he/she is able, or he/she can go after someone else in the circle. After every tag the noodle must be placed back on the noodle spot. If I were to miss the spot, the person I tagged can hover over the spot until I return to place the noodle on the spot - usually resulting in an immediate tag back. So, be mindful when placing the noodle down. (I tend to use a hula-hoop as the noodle spot to make the placement a bit easier.) Play this level for several minutes to warm up the group. This one plays well for about three to five minutes. Then go another round or move to the next level.
Swat 2: This level plays like Let's Make A Deal from Chris Ortiz's Top 10 post. While the basic game of Swat 1 is in progress, players from the circle (standing on a spot), can make visual (or verbal, but you risk being heard) agreements to switch spots with each other. When switching players must move across the inside of the circle - thus opening them up as a target for the noodler. In this version Nate encourages players to take a risk, to challenge themselves even if there is a chance of getting tagged. As Chris Ortiz explains in his version, making a deal is a commitment to honor the agreement. And, what, if anything, changes that agreement. And, how does that reflect upon the agreer. There are times when I play this one and offer a point to players for each different spot they touch during the game. However, you lose all of your points if the noodler tags you. This one plays well for about three to five minutes. Then play another round or move to the next level.
Swat 3: Use all rules as detailed above. At this level anyone, at any time, can go and occupy an open spot - they don't have to make an agreement to switch with anyone. In the attempt the player must cross through the circle, not go around the circle. This adds another level of challenge (or risk). You might be heading towards a spot that becomes occupied before you get there. So, what are your choices? Again, you could allow a point for every spot touched and lose points after being tagged. Plays well for three minutes.
Swat 4: Play with all rules from the first three levels. Here's the addition. If you want the extra challenge (risk), run out to the noodle spot, put your foot on (or in) it and say, "I love this game" three times before returning to a game spot. If you make it back without getting tagged give yourself a high five for courage (or add 10 points to your score). Again, as in each level, about three minutes of action is pretty good. After four games your group is going to be pretty warmed up.
Again, Nate likes to discuss the experience with his groups asking about the risks players took. What was challenging for them? Did they try something that was uncomfortable? Were they successful? Were they unsuccessful? What was it like when all of your points were lost and you had to go back to zero? What choice did you make at zero?
When I offer points, I ask players to set a goal before each game. This allows me to talk about the goal setting process and outcomes.
Blocks (& Skyscrapers) - See the Lotsa Blocks FUNdoing blog post for a series of interactive building block activities. (More details are in Nate's book.)
Switch - Nate told me about this good cardio activity that involves choice and risk - where are you going? What if you don't make it? Find the directions at thisPlayworks Link.
Table Top Ricochet -See this FUNding blog post for all the details - and a couple videos.
Moonwalking & Moonwalking Key Punch - Here's another activity I've seen Nate present and again, tough to do it justice through the written word - but Ill give it a shot.
Moonwalking involves three people. One person is the moonwalker, the other two are the "lifters". (Karl Rohnke would call this type of activity a "stunt".) The lifters take a supporting hold of the moonwalkers underarm and elbow - one lifter on each side. The moonwalker goes down a bit into a squat and then springs upward into the air. The lifters provide a slight to moderate lift (not a tossing the person in the air lift) always staying in contact with the moonwalker. The lift gives a bit more height to the jump so there can be a "weightlessness" effect. As the moonwalker heads back down to earth the lifters provide some upward support so the moonwalker does not land too abruptly - the lifters are "spotting" the downward motion of the moonwalker.
Be sure to provide the time for everyone in each group of three to practice the jumping and lifting spot.
After some stationary practicing it's time to travel. Now, the moonwalker will be jumping a bit forward as the lifters move along side, always lifting on the jump and staying in contact with the moonwalker - bring sure to support the landing. Be mindful, the moonwalker does not want to jump too far forward out jumping the lifters spots.
Be sure to provide the time for everyone in each group of three to practice traveling and the moving lifting spot.
Moonwalking KeyPunch - (Here's what I remember about this one.) Set down some numbered spots - about one spots for every two people in your group. Then you'll need a "Moon Crater" around each numbered spot - a hula-hoop, a webbing circle or you could even tape out a square around each spot.
Once you're set up, each group of three stands around a different crater. Now, let's say we have 24 people in our group. (Perfectly divisible by three! I love it when it works out.) That means there are 12 numbered spots inside craters. My group is standing around crater number 10 (the other groups are standing around another number of their choice). The objective, for each group of three, will be to touch each numbered crater in order and return to their original crater as quickly and safely as possible - you are on the moon after all. So, my group starts with crater 10, then we go to 11, then 12. After we touch 12 we find number one, then two, then, three - working our way back to the number 10 crater. When all the groups have returned to their original crater the time stops.
How do you touch the spots?, you ask. Well, since we all know how to moonwalk now, we all moonwalk through each crater. One leap and lift in, landing on the number. Then, another leap and lift out. After a successful crater connection my group looks for the next number (maybe with a little help from our companions). Once we reach our next destination another moonwalker takes this crater - so, we switch out roles at every crater. Do be careful during the lunar movement.
When everyone has returned to their original crater, log the time and see if the moonwalkers are up for another attempt. (You will find that this one does require some physical effort - so, you might want to take a little break before the next moonwalk.) (Moonwalking, I'm guessing will be in Nate's next book.)
Sonic - In Nate's book there are three versions of Sonic inspired by the video game Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (TM) (Here's the Overview of each from the book):
Way to much to tell you about these three. You'll have to pick up the book for more details (well worth it I assure you!)
I play these games with the large sized noodle chips (foam pool noodles cut up in 1.5 inch slices) - lots of pieces for low cost. My tossables are stuffed animals - I get mine from the Dollar Store. Small buckets can also be found at a Dollar Store - be sure they are sturdy enough to withstand a stuffed animal toss.
Fine Line Cards - Okay! If you want to be an early adopter of a Nate resource, get some of these FINE LINE (very cool) cards and read Nate's eBook (below) of 10 activities he has generously share with us. According to Nate, this collection is just the tip of the iceberg - there are more to come. (On an informational note, Nate reached out to the creators of the cards and asked if he - Nate - could write an activity book for the cards. After the enthusiastic confirmation, the book is in the works and we get an early look If you want a little more information about the cards HERE'S a VIDEO from the creators.)
Here's Nate's super-fantastic eBook of activities:
Tweener - I saw Nate present this activity at a workshop on "Active Debriefing". Another name for this game is called Bridge Ball - see the Playworks video HERE for the basics. Once your group has some fun with the game you can offer debriefing questions to open up some learning. When a goal is scored: the person scored on shares a goal he/she has related to anything going on in his/her life or it could be a goal related to the group they are working with at the time. When the ball goes out of the circle between two people (called a Tweener): the person that goes out to gather up the ball and bring it back gets to say something they are really excited about or something they really like to do, or something that makes them happy - we're looking for a personal highlight. When the ball goes up and over someone: that person gets to ask a "wonder" question (while someone goes off to gather up the ball). For example, I might ask, I wonder what's next for us as a group. Then there could be a little discussion about the possibilities. So, a fun way to extend the play of a simple interactive game.
Nate, thanks so much for sharing some FUN with us!!
Readers, if you want to connect with Nate directly he said you can call or email:
Again, hi website is: NateFolan.com
Have FUN out there my friends! Keep me posted.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D
Here's an exciting belayed "high course" climbing activity done by my friends at Group Dynamix (www.GroupDynamix.com). Check out the video below for the action.
I've done something like this in the past, but what I really like about this version is the "Manhole Ladder" (sorry, it's not quite PC, but it's what they're called. (You can find yours at Granger.) The ladder we use at GDX is 14 feet high and about 12 inches wide. It's a super solid one-piece design with sturdy rounded feet and nice smooth rounded "hand holds" at the top (see pictures below).
The ladder is geared up with four (white) multiline ropes safely attached to some webbing around the side of the ladder and top step. Above the climb is a belay-rated anchor with a static belay rope.
FEET TOP for HANDS
Set Up: We clip the climber in the front of a seat harness. A full body harness can also be used with a dorsal clip in. We like the team belay - four or five belayers with both hands on the belay rope. The end person of the team is clipped into the rope as well. There are 1 or 2 participants at the end of the (white) support ropes depending on the weight of the climber - if the climber is heavier than one support person, another person is added.
In the video the climber was challenged to walk up the slanted ladder - no hands. She then climbed (was lowered) down with the ladder straight up (her choice). I've seen the ladder held straight up the entire time, and with the ladder leaning towards the climber to start. He did hand-over-hand pull ups and then climbed his way over the top of the "overhang" (the support ropes were a bit tricky to get around). With this overhang method we had three support participants on each of the two ropes on the back side (away from the climber) and two on the front side ropes. He then walked down the ladder, still slanted, with no hands.
Overall, I really like the amount of participation you can get from the team. Eight to 12 (or more) people can be in support roles while one person climbs. Pretty cool.
(I know you will also follow all of your protocols (LOPs) when it comes to facilitating a high course element!)
Let me know how it goes if you try it out!!
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
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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.