Friday, March 2, 2012

Class Trip: Day 3

Day 3 was spent doing team building exercises on the grounds of the hotel. The company that we contracted to organize our trip and facilitate the team building was called Into The Wild. They were a group of about 4-5 guys that were with us for the entire trip. The owner met us at the airport and I knew right away we were in good hands. He introduced us to our guide team which had a huge amount of experience working with kids and corporate tours too. They started day 3 with stories to set the stage for the transformation they were nurturing.

Next they had the kids do some warm up exercises really emphasizing the connection between the partners. Small trust falls, activities that required them to work as a team and greetings.

Next we moved on to bigger challenges. The trust fall was the hard one for me and some of the more introverted students. So we all hold onto this net made of webbing, and one student stands on the top of a 5 foot tall platform. The student on top then calls out their name and asks if the catchers are ready, to which we all yell ready and then the student on the platform falls backward; arms crossed in front of them. I can't imagine going without seeing some one be caught first. Falling backward went against my every instinct. Some kids found this really difficult but it resulted in the best part of the team building. All the students that were holding the net started giving words of encouragement to the jumper and talked them into it. Everyone that got up on the platform and decided to fall which is a good indication of how much they trusted their fellow students. I went last and I was nervous. I was almost twice what some of these kids weigh and they were getting tired from catching people. It really was hard to give in and let your brain override its instinct to not fall backward. So they caught me... kind of! I ended up on the ground pulling one student into the net with me! They had broken my fall enough so I just tapped the ground and we all got a good laugh. Here is a picture of the setting.

Another good one was what the guides called "Seabiscuit" in reference to the persistence of Seabiscuit and his trainer. The idea is to go from hanging from all fours from a log to be on top of the log. They had a bunch of kids try and no one could get it done. Had all the students spot from underneath and give words of encouragement until someone got it. It was an exercise in method, if you used the right method most students were able to do it. So the first student to persist until they figured out how to do it made it easy for the others.

The kids had a different attitude after the day's activities. It was easy to see the change in them. They had a confidence and a comradery that was not there before. I have been part of team building activities before and never really bought in. Maybe it was me and my attitude that made this experience different but I think it was the guides. Sometimes these team building things seem so cheesy; I mean really, how is falling of a platform supposed to change your view or attitude? The Into the Wild guides were great at pre-loading and explaining how the activities were going to affect you. Our kids also made a huge contribution. If they had not bought in and really cared for their fellow students and their teacher then the activities would not have been quite as meaningful. Good day!

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