Props: Red Course A.L.: 3-5
Credit: Kimball Camp YMCA
Circle. Explain to the group that this is the final test of their teamwork abilities. If they can see their entire group through this activity, they will have accomplished their goal. If not… Explain to them that this is a VERY serious activity and that they must treat it as such. There can be NO talk of dropping anyone letting anyone fall or general screwing around. I cannot say this enough:
*** DO NOT DO THIS ACTIVITY IF YOUR TEAM HAS NOT PROVEN ITSELF ABLE TO WORK TOGETHER!!! ***
If you do not trust them to catch you, don’t let ANYONE do it! If your group cannot work together, don’t take them here. Out of all the groups that I’ve worked with, 9-out-of- 10 will NOT make it to Trust Fall, and that includes adult groups as well. This is a reward, not a requirement! (Do you get the feeling that I take this activity very seriously? Should I shut up, stop preaching and tell you what to do? Okay. But… No, seriously, here’s how it’s done!)
1. Pick a volunteer.
2. Have the volunteer stand on top of the platform, ankles off the edge toward you. They are to place their arms at their side (or wrapped across the chest) and then lock their body absolutely stiff!
3. Have everyone down below “zipper” their arms. DO NOT let them lock their wrists together as it will break their wrists! (Sorry to go against tradition, but…) It should look like this…
4. Person on platform says, “Ready to Fall.”
5. People on the ground look at each other to make sure that EVERYONE is paying attention. If someone is not, DO NOT let the group respond. Once everyone is finally ready, the group responds, “Ready.”
6. The person on the platform locks their body and says, “Falling.” (And does.)
Note: make sure that you, at least, and your group, if possible, are ready to catch the person even as they are climbing onto the platform. It is not unusual for people to slip as they are climbing up. Make sure that you, as facilitator, take the part of the body directly under the torso (that’s from the neck to the butt for those of you non-anatomy people) so if they person is not caught by anyone else in the group, you will at least support them and (hopefully) prevent them from breaking something. IF NO ONE ELSE REACHES IN TO SUPPORT THE PERSON FALLING, YOU WILL CATCH THEM ALL BY YOURSELF. Sounds tough, but you have to do it!
Problems to watch out for include:
1. People talking and not paying attention. EVERYONE must be focused on the person on the platform. Even if, realistically, they will not even touch the person who falls, they must still be watching that person and have their mouths shut!
2. People talking about dropping people. The SECOND a team member says that_ the activity is over. There are no second chances and no ignoring it. If they say it, move on to another activity.
3. Have the zipper scootch tightly shoulder-to-shoulder. This allows more people to catch the “faller”. Also, have people on the end who have never caught rotate in. This will ensure fresh arms to catch people!
4. Make sure the head and shoulders are always caught! If nothing else, catch these areas!
5. After the person falls, please set them down feet first and prop them back up! (It’s just a nice thing to do rather than lay them on a cold, muddy ground!)
6. Have “fallers” take off jewelry that might inadvertently cut someone! Watches, rings, bracelets, etc..
7. Caution “fallers” not to bend! If they fall straight, everyone shares their weight. If they bend, they will drive their entire weight on two or three arms! This makes them VERY difficult to catch! That’s why you, as facilitator, need to be standing under their torso with the strongest people on either side of you!
8. Finally, make sure the faller keeps their arms tightly to their side or across the chest. Point out that if they flail, they will punch the people trying to catch them. This is a very bad thing!
Remember: this is challenge by choice. Never force anyone to participate. Praise those who do, encourage those who don’t, but never shame anyone for not trying. It takes a lot of courage and trust, and, speaking as someone who has been dropped from a 5-foot Trust Fall Platform, it is not an easy thing to put yourself (literally) in someone else’s hands!
Trust! (Like that wasn’t obvious!)
If your group has reached this point, praise them. If everyone falls, praise them even more. If someone didn’t fall, praise them for their choice. Tell them my favorite slogan: Trust is the toughest thing to earn in a group and the quickest thing to lose! Talk about times people have failed their trust. Ask if they trusted that person immediately after. Some of the people will still be having trouble getting their heart rates back to normal!
Spotting Concerns See Above!