Props: Just Your Group
Focus: Trust Cooperation/Caring
Credit: Cowstails and Cobras H (page 73)
Fun Background: A tribe of Indians used to do this activity as part of a sacred ceremony. They would assemble the braves (sorry ladies!) and do this activity. (If they can do it with over two hundred men, your group has no excuse!) But it isn’t as easy as it sounds…
Circle. (Get used to it! Besides! Circles mean that there is only one team, and that everyone is equal!) Have everyone take hold of the hands of the people next to them. Have everyone get a good grip! (The best thing I’ve discovered is to have people push their sleeves up and grab wrist-to-wrist; it’s almost unbreakable.) Run (happily) around the circle, counting the group off by twos. If there is an odd number, you MUST participate. (Trust me, this is really cool! Would I lie to you?) Then you must demonstrate for them the way to fall. Take two other people from the circle and have them stand on either side of you. Have each of them get a good grip, and then brace themselves. What happens in the circle is this: Everyone stretches out so that the circle is tight (but not straining); they put their feet together; lock their body absolutely straight; and fall either in or out. In other words (remember, you are demonstrating this to the group), you will say something like, “Ones fall in, twos fall out.” I will say “Ready? Go.” At which point everyone must fall at the same time! Now watch as I show you how to fall…
Now, let’s try this all together! Reassemble the circle (this is where you step out if you don’t have to participate). Have them try it.
Note: if someone slips, the whole circle will collapse. If someone bends, the whole circle will collapse. If someone lets go… Well, you get the idea. Everything must work perfectly for this to work! Don’t be surprised if your group never gets it; it is very difficult. Make sure you switch who falls which way. (Sometimes twos fall better “in” than ones!) Physics says that everyone will hold everyone else’s weight and balance out the circle (unless you have an 80-pound person between two 300-pound people, then the circle is kaput!) When they get it, have them hold it for ten seconds and then stand back up as a group! This should NOT be used as a beginner activity! Build up to it, instead!
Trust!!! If someone doesn’t trust the group, they will continually bend (thus, not taking any weight and collapsing the circle). The other C’s are factors, but not absolutely critical.
Did they succeed? If not, why not? Does it matter if they accomplished it? Do they want to come back to this obstacle? How many tries did it take? Why? Why were they absolutely perfect and managed to accomplish it the first time when we are all flawed, sinful human beings? Why shouldn’t they fall flat on their faces like the rest of us have? (I think, at this point, you should shove their faces in the dirt! I’ve had to fall
many times, so they should too!) Oh, well. Think of your other processing questions and get it over with!
The ever-classic, ever-annoying “let me yank hard on the hands of those I’m attached with and pull the whole circle off balance” bit! Watch out for people not leaning. Don’t blame them for this, but encourage them to participate and trust their group. Watch, also, for people trying to maim each other’s hands. You join in, or place teachers / leaders around them so that can’t screw around!