I'm a big fan of Trolleys. The earliest description of this team coordination activity that I could find is in The Bottomless Bag by Karl Rohnke (1988). Classic Trolleys are built with 4 inch by 4 inch boards and rope (my favorite type is retired 11 mm climbing rope). Three quarter inch holes are drilled into the boards about 12 inches apart and counter sunk on the bottom side so when the rope, knotted on one end, is pulled through the holes (up from the bottom) the knot becomes lodged up inside the counter sunk hole. With the knot up out of the way the Trolley will remain flat on the bottom for easy maneuvering.
I've seen Trolleys made for three and on up to 12 participants. No matter how long you make them, be sure you have a place to store them. Here's a picture of "The Trolley Tree" - a solution for storing 12 participant Trolleys (somewhat) out of the way - near the open field where they are most often used.
When I first started using Trolleys the idea was to move your Trolley team from point A to point B as safely and efficiently as possible. In many instances there were multiple Trolleys moving across to the final destination at the same time. Now, when I program Trolleys I never tell my multiple Trolley teams they are racing, but we all know how this ends up! Nowadays, more often than not, I like to add some challenging obstacles to the Trolley travels.
Using colorful game spots (or any other flat prop - please don't use three-three-dimentional obstacles. Trolley boards will be unstable if set down upon the 3-D object), I can place them in a random or straight pattern. If the Trolley touches a spot during the crossing the team is required to stop all movement. Then, each person on the team must circumnavigate their Trolley boards, get back on and continue their movement. (If a participant touches the floor/ground during this Trolley obstacle variation I only require the team to stop until everyone is on the boards - all feet must be on the boards for them to work.)
Placing the spots in more-or-less of a straight line is very similar to Trolleying The Line (below). If you place the spots close together the best (safest) way to avoid the spots is to turn sideways and then lift one Trolley board at a time to clear the spots (you'll see this strategy in the video below). (Consider this: If a Trolley team decides to walk right over the spots (a viable option), every time a Trolley board is lifted and then set on a spot, participants must make their 360 trek around their Trolleys. It's one way to do it, but it takes a while.)
Trolleying The Line (video below):
This is my most recent favorite Trolley challenge - clean and simple. Start the Trolley teams about 20 feet from a long line laid down on the floor/ground (use tape on the floor and a rope outside in the grass - you want to avoid a line the Trolleys could "roll" on. This could cause some added speed to the Trolleys you might want to avoid).
Once the teams know the objective, "Get your team across to the finish area without the Trolley boards touching the line that is in your path" (more rules below), they can orientate their starting position any way. (You will see in the video that two teams decided to start sideways and one starting in the perpendicular position - this is the team that made it to the finish area the fastest. Both strategies are worthy of study.)
Trolleying The Line Set-Up:
The "Journey Area" is 40 feet wide. Set down your tape (indoors) or rope (outdoors in the grass), 20 feet from the starting line. Clearly mark the starting and finishing lines with cones on either end of the invisible line (between the cones).
Trolleying The Line Rules:
Below is a picture of the Trolley Team's start and a video of how it plays out. (Note: Before the first journey across the expanse, I had the teams practice moving the Trolleys together for about 10 minutes. I did not tell them about the Trolleying The Line challenge until they were done practicing - this is when two teams decided to start sideways, even though they did not practice going sideways - good stuff to talk about!)
Have FUN out their my friends. Keep me posted.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
I do like the Bull Ring activity, popularized by my friend Dr. Jim Cain. There are lots of fun adaptations of the Bull Ring contraption (including the 3-D version SHOWN HERE). And, there are lots of challenges that can be presented with any of the Bull Rings. One of my favorites is, "Hole in the Wall".
Here are my rules and the three-part progression to this challenge. (The participants in the video below are college students in a management-related masters degree program.):
PART 1: The group is challenged to move the Ball, using the Bull Ring contraption, from one pedestal to the other.
PART 2: The group is challenged to move the Ball, using the Bull Ring contraption, from one pedestal to the other. Before placing the Ball on the second pedestal, all the participants and the Bull Ring contraption must pass through a hula-hoop being held up vertically by the facilitator.
PART 3: The group is challenged to move the Ball, using the Bull Ring contraption, from one pedestal to the other. Before placing the Ball on the second pedestal, all the participants and the Bull Ring contraption must pass through a hula-hoop. This time the group must figure out how to manage the hula-hoop without the facilitators help. (This Part is shown in the video below.)
I describe the hula-hoop to the group as a hole in a wall. A hole in a wall is in a vertical orientation and our hole in the wall has special powers - it can move around within the imaginary wall but it must stay in the vertical position.
When I am holding the hoop for the group (in Part 2), each participant can tell me how high they would like me to hold it and if they want it moved at any point during their passage through it. The hoop works the same way in Part 3, but the group members have to figure out how to manipulate the hoop following the Rules of play.
In the video below the group is (obviously) attempting Part 3. Noticed they have figured out a way, following the rules, to get through the hoop together after loosening the strings - remember, when the Ball is in motion the strings must be tight. (Now, does the Ball "move" during the loosening of the strings? We did talk about this during the processing session.)
NOTE: I've titled the "Part 3" video below, Bull Ring Hooped since it's also on my YouTube channel by itself without a description. I didn't add any music to this video so you could listen to the participants work their plan.
What's your favorite Bull Ring challenge? Leave us a Comment below.
Have FUN out there!
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Recently, I was a guest on the Growing People Podcast with John Losey. My good friend John and I talked about my journey as a team development professional, what my creative process looks like, my advice to new facilitators and more. HERE is the link to the full 55-minute interview if you have the time to absorb the whole thing.
For those of you pressed for time, the videos below are shorter clips taken from the interview covering a few of the main questions John had for me. I'd love to hear your feedback about my perspectives. Leave me a comment below.
Thanks for watching!!
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Chris Cavert on What Makes a Great Facilitator (7:43)
Chris Cavert Advice to Young [and not-so-young] Facilitators (4:38)
Chris Cavert Apps and Resources [My Favorites at this time.] (5:16)
In December of 2016 I posted a basic presentation of the activity ZOOM along with a newer variation I learned from my friend Scott Goldsmith. A while back I tried a variation of ZOOM that was new for me - I made it up prior to a particular program. (Now, this doesn't mean I was the first one to come up with the idea - you know how they float around once someone thinks one up.) I forgot about this variation until today when I ran across some video footage I took of some ZOOMers in action. So, after a little editing on my phone I have the video for you and the step-by-steps below.
As ZOOMers know, there are about 30 usable picture pages from the book (after you cut off the spine of the book and laminate all the pages). For this example (as in the video) I'll set up play using all 30 pictures.
ZOOM: On The Spot
Rules of Play:
Please let me reiterate one thing. Be sure your put down the reference pictures in the right place so that the pictures, placed down by the group members, will connect appropriately to ones visible. (I'm guessing you can guess why I know putting them in the wrong place is not fun!!)
Your discussion(s) will be related to two possible outcomes (or three if you misplaced a reference picture): 1) All the pictures are in the correct order (based on the order of picture pages in the book), or 2) two or more pictures are out of order. Know you will be able to discuss what led to their success, what led to them being "mostly" successful, as well as what participants focused on most when they were not successful - being mostly or not at all successful. Of course, there will be a lot more group dynamics during the activity, so pull out what relates the best to the group's objectives.
Get the Book(s) You can also play this variation with the book ReZoom - find both books at the Training Wheels Gear store.
Have FUN out there! Do you have a ZOOM variation you like? Share it with us in the comments below.
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
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.
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.
Set Up: Put down your game spots (e.g., poly spots, index cards or carpet squares) as shown in the diagram above. The diagram is a set up for up to 24 players. The gray spots in the diagram indicate the "head" of the each line - you don't need to have different colored spots for the head of the line in your set up, I just need these in the diagram for my explanation. When setting up your spots include the same number of spots in each line.
Before you're ready to start you also need to organize your cards. Consider that smaller cards will make the activity a bit more challenging. Larger cards will be a bit easier. Put all like ranks of cards together starting with the four Aces on top of the deck (face down), then the twos, threes, fours, and so on. Okay, your ready.
Process: Gather your group together off to the side of the spot configuration you've set up. Hand out a playing card to each person in the group starting with the top of the deck (Aces, then twos, then threes and so on). Ask the players not to look at their cards just yet.
When everyone has a card ask them to do a "blind shuffle" - exchange cards with five different people and then stop moving. Again, ask your participants not to look at their cards just yet.
Now ask everyone to stand on one of the spots you've set out on the ground/floor - lines of people should have equal numbers, or no more or less than one. For example, lets say I set out my 24 spots on the ground and I only have 22 players. There should be two lines of six players and two lines of five players standing on spots - you don't want three lines of six players and one line of four players.
Objective: Each line of players will end up with the same suit of cards running in sequential order starting with the Ace at the head of the line (where all the lines meet) and ending with the highest card of the suit at the tail of the line.
When the lines are all set, you're ready to play. Here are the rules you can share:
So far I've tried Card Quad Jam with three different groups. Each time I let them make three attempts at their "best time". This one is bringing up behaviors similar to TP Shuffle and the Windmill activity (if you know that one from Affordable Portables). There tends to be less action at the ends of the lines and more chaos in the area were the lines come together. I'm seeing lots of possibilities for learning - leadership, planning, roles & responsibilities.... So far a good paradigm shift can be when the group decides to step off of their spots and plan "together" instead of staying in the "linear" communication model. When they are ready everyone simply goes back to their spot so they can make an attempt.
Let me know what you think!! Leave me a comment below.
Have FUN out there!
Chris Cavert,, Ed.D.
Tube Switch (1.0) made it's debut back in November of 2014. (HERE is the original post.) The equipment was easy to make using toilet paper rolls and index cards. It's been so fun for me to see this activity grow into the new 2.0 version.
Tom Gardner was the first to show off his new kit. He used 2 inch diameter PVC tubing, cutting the tubes about 4 inches high then adding numbered stickers - 1 to 28. For his number spots he picked up some yellow floor matting and cut out 4 x 4 inch squares before adding the numbers using a marker. (Construction Note: Each number should be small enough so it can be completely covered by a tube when placed over it.)
Recently I found out there were a couple sets made near me in Texas. My good friend and colleague Jennifer used (what I'm calling) the Double Play (Texas) Kit - shown in the video below. One Tube Switch set was made with numbers and the other set with letters. The number/letter spots were made with index cards which were laminated after the numbers/letters were added.
The tubes for this Texas (Double) set are made from 1.5 inch PVC tubing, cut 4 inches long. The numbers and letters were printed on copy paper, cut out and then taped on the tubes with packaging tape - they look nice and clean. There are 26 letters (of course) and 26 numbers.
Tube Switch: Double Play
Set up two separate Tube Switch areas. Use a 50 foot (or longer) activity rope to make a nice big circle for each area - have the rope circle areas about 20 feet apart. In this (Texas) version, one circle has the letter set and one circle has the number set.
Place down a set of number/letter spots in each area (see video). For a more challenging version of the activity, don't place any of the number/letter spots too close to the edge - far enough away so a player cannot lean over, while standing outside the rope circle, and look down through a tube to see the number.
After all the number/letter spots are placed set down the tubes over the numbers/letters - the tube numbers/letters SHOULD NOT match the numbers/letters on the cards. Be sure the tubes are completely hiding the numbers/letters.
After running this activity a number of times, I've found a good range of participants per Tube Switch area to be 8 to 12. With Double Play you get more action and there is now the potential to collaborate if you set it up that way. When you have enough people for Double Play, divide them into two groups. Assign one group to each area.
Here's the collaborative idea:
Move all the tubes to their matching numbers/letters.
*One interesting consideration in this activity - it is not a requirement to set a tube back down on a number/letter spot with the number/letter upright. If someone thinks of this, flipping over a tube that is going down on it's matching number/letter will help the group(s) know which pairs are matched up - thus saving time to validate matches at the end.
Let the groups try at least twice (even three times) to see if they can improve their overall time. Better yet, after each attempt, have groups "switch" (get it?) Tube Switch areas.
Be sure to check out the video to get a glimpse of the action.
Have FUN out their my friends! Let me know (pictures!!) if you build a set of your own and how it works out for you. Leave a comment below.
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D
Balloon Frantic is a classic Karl Rohnke activity (Silver Bullets) where a group of participants try to keep a large number of balloons in the air at the same time. Here in Balloon Frantic Too we make it a small group challenge so we can focus on process improvement, collaboration, creative problem solving and maybe a little competition (if needed).
This activity evolved from the "Minute To Win It" activity, Defying Gravity (and it's eventual relation to Balloon Frantic). In Defying Gravity (you've got to give this a try), one person must keep three balloons aloft for 60 seconds. Sounds easy, right? So far my best is 37 seconds. Let me know how it goes for you. (Yes, indoors is the best venue.)
For Balloon Frantic Too you will need to divide your big group into smaller groups of 8 or 9 players - less players makes it harder, more players makes it easier. You then need six inflated balloons for each group - 12-inch or bigger balloons. (To make the activity easier provide six different colored balloons for each group. To make the activity harder don't have six different colors for each group.) Have the teams blow up the balloons to about the size of a basketball (or a bit smaller). You will also need game spots - one for every two players in each small group. If you have an odd number of players, the odd player out will use one spot, the other platers will be share (more below). Finally, each group needs a timing device of some sort.
Keep all six balloons up in the air as long as possible.
Here's what I like about this activity:
Let me know how it goes for you. Leave a comment below.
Have FUN out there.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
(Be sure to scroll down to watch the in-action video.)
I've been wanting to start posting some BIG activities for those of you who work with challenge course programs (and those looking to start one), so here we go. I learned Double Whale Watch years ago from my Dallas/Fort Worth friends at Group Dynamix. I like the versatility of the small (somewhat) portable construction and the wonderful opportunity to provide a collaborative experience for a small or larger group.
If you've ever used a Whale Watch you know the basic challenge is to get everyone from your group onto the element and balance it for a certain amount of time. Then of course there are a number of additional challenges that can be presented. (More on the way, I'm sure, at this FUNdoing blog.)
Whale Watch Set Up You want to place the Whale Watch platforms about 12 to 24 inches apart from each other in a linier formation. (For additional challenge, you can work with offset and angles as well, but they will require a bit more physical effort and/or coordination to solve - a nice upper-level challenge. It's also important to know that the fulcrums "tip" a lot easier when used inside on a solid floor, as opposed to when they are set up outside on the ground - there is a little more friction on the fulcrums outside, making it a bit easier to balance on the Whale Watches.
The Double Whale Watch Challenge Ask your group to divide themselves in half (or close to it). Each half will be asked to carefully step onto their assigned Whale Watch platform (I always have everyone enter at the center area of the Watch). Then, when everyone is aboard, the challenge is to balance both Whale Watches, at the same time, for 10 seconds.
Whale Watch Safety Points As you may know, or can see from the picture and video action below, there is some fair potential for participants to lose their balance and fall of off the structure. I like to have as many facilitators spotting as I can get - two minimum, one at each of the far ends of the platforms. I also tell my participants that as soon as there are two people on a platform everyone must be connected to someone on their platform. This most often looks like hand-holding, but hands on shoulders can work for them as well. As with any challenge course element, inform your group of the potential risk and ask them to keep each other safe during the action. AND, always stop the action if needed.
Two other safety notes. Ask your participants to never walk through the gap between the two platforms. And, I always require everyone to exit their platform the way they entered, off the sides at the center of the platforms. SUPER PRETTY PLEASE, "do not jump off the ends of the platforms - you know this will cause problems for people at the other ends."
I will assume you will add additional safety instructions related to your program operating procedures. For this post I wanted to make sure I covered the basics.
Why I like the Double Whale Watch As mentioned above, I like the (somewhat) portable aspect of this construction (however, it does take a bit of effort, from at least two people, to move one). I like the smaller surface area of the platforms because the micro-movements of each person have more impact on the balance. It also takes less time for everyone to access two separate platforms and get to the action part.
But mostly, I love to watch attempt after attempt as each group of Whale Watchers tries to balance out their platform on their own - it's not impossible for one of the two groups to balance for 10 seconds, but I've yet to see both balance at the same time for 10 seconds without "crossing the gap" for support from the other group. I've seen a few groups bridge the gap quickly, but more often than not it takes some time for that "shift" in thinking to realize they can help each other. Good stuff.
Again, thanks to my incredibly creative friends at Group Dynamix for sharing this activity with us. If you venture to build yourself a set, let us know how it goes - leave a comment below.
Have fun out there.
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
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.