Since I first read about Don't Touch Me (from Quicksilver, 1995, Rohnke & Butler) I'm sure I've programmed this activity with groups no less than 100 times - as Karl predicted, it is classic. "Simple complexity" I like to call these types of activities. Easy to present and rich in possible take-aways.
Recently I leaned a variation of Don't Touch Me from some of my colleagues at Group Dynamix (GDX). (I have recently ventured back into programming and facilitating which I am truly enjoying.) After asking the origin of this variation, it seems that it evolved synergistically within the GDX environment (my interpretation of their answers).
Doing my diligence, I looked up the original text offered by Karl Rohnke. After circling up your group, Karl asks everyone to "eyeball someone at the far side of the circle" and call this person's name to be sure of the pairing. Then the facilitator places a hula hoop [or a cone, or game spot - pictured above] in the center of the circle.
To play, "ask the pairs - the players who eyeballed each other - to change sides of the circle; i.e., to reverse positions, and while making this change, make physical contact (one foot's OK) with the interior of the hula hoop" [or make physical contact with the cone/spot].
During the action, if any physical contact is made between players a one-second penalty will be enforced - added to the overall time. To help remind participants of this dilemma, Karl asks everyone to YELL "Don't Touch Me!" while making their way to their new position. Timing starts on "GO" and ends when all the parameters have been met.
Here's are the parameters for the GDX variation. Note the subtle differences:
1. Everyone is required to make contact with the game spot [related to the picture above].
2. You must change positions with your partner. And....
3. You must say, "Don't Touch Me" after the time starts.
As above, a one-second time penalty will be added to the overall time for every person-to-person touch.
Following the original version, a group of 30 people can probably get down to around 10 seconds. In the GDX variation I have timed the group meeting all the parameters in under two seconds. (Consider the language and the possible definitions of words in the variation.)
Here are a few other considerations. GDX Eric, does a bit more leading when he presents. He goes into the middle of the circle and picks up the object in question while reciting the first parameter. He then makes a fluid motion with his arms during parameter number two (which participants might take as switching sides of the circle with a partner). Eric's rational is purposefully creating a mental model that may lock people into some phantom rules - one of his facilitated objectives to discuss with his groups. GDX Jen (facilitator above), does not add the extra non-verbels, but with the group above, she was still "blamed" for misleading the group. All great things to talk about.
One last note. As you see in the picture above, we (Jen and I) started out our group in chairs, noting the safety issues if they decided to use them. In the process, they started in chairs, then went to standing (then ultimately back to sitting). After three attempts, of moving to the spot their partners originated from, the group made great strides - they were very happy with their 12 seconds (first attempt was 32 seconds).
Then, being the type of group they were, they asked if anyone has ever done it faster. Jen, being the honest person she is, said, "yes, I've seen it done in under a second." Of course they reassessed their plan and came up with a version that got them in under a second following all the parameters of the activity.
It just goes to show you (and one of the main reasons I love what I do), subtle changes in language can have major impact on the way an activity is perceived. Awesome stuff.
Have fun out there!
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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.
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.