This blog entry is going to be all about group activities and a little bit about testing out my new tarp. For some practical training, supplementing the lectures we had on group dynamics and leadership, we went to Jegersberg with the whole class. Each one of had prepared a group activity for the rest of the group, mostly together with a partner. I had prepared a game together with another German guy as the game was supposed to have something to do with the country we’re from. Since the main focus of the game should be on the group dynamics, we agreed on a game or challenge we had done on summer camp.
After we had arrived at the spot we were going to spend the night, we first had to set up our tents or hammocks though. I had just bought a new tarp since I had spent many nights sleeping in a hammock already but only discovered the usefulness of a tarp when we borrowed some from our instructor for a private trip. So, I was quite happy using it and testing it out for the first time. I discovered that that setting the tarp diagonally as opposed to lengthways really covered my whole hammock, so I went for that method. Since there was heavy rain expected for the night , I wanted to make sure to be protected the best I could. To avoid water running down the sling that attached the hammock to the trees, I tied another small sling to the actual sling and squeezed a tight know onto it. This should make the water draining down the extra sling instead of running along the actual sling into my hammock. I exchanged with some other guys about different ways of setting up the tarp. The only way that kept us dry this night was the way one other and I set it up though, using a hammock. Any way of setting it up on the ground led the tarp being flooded even before we went to bed later because there was water running down the hill we camped underneath.
Back to the group games though. After we gathered around again, we simply played one after another.
Our game was the “get over the rope” challenge. We divided the group into three smaller groups. Each one was given a rope and we told them to set it up on a tree on roughly head-hight. The challenge was to get all the group members across it without touching the rope, reaching under it, or using the trees; so, they had to cooperate. It was difficult to make it a fair game since we were only two leaders but three groups and the trees were pretty far apart. But in the end two of the groups managed to get all across. It was criticised that for a group it might not be good to have an all-win or all-lose game. But I guess it depends on what kind of group you are leading; on the age and their mind-set. Most of the other games I had already known from summer camps but we had some funny new approaches to one of them. The task was to get a bomb (a rucksack) out of a circle of ropes, which you cannot enter, using only ropes and not communicating after 2 min of discussion time. They way it is usually done is, people try to throw the ropes around the rucksack, holding on to the ends and carrying it out of the circle moving both ropes simultaneously. Our first approach though was to have one tall guy lean in, Michael Jackson-like, being held by the rope we pulled from his armpits. The second attempt was me climbing along the rope, which the others simply held across the circle from both sides. Against all expectations both methods worked. Now although we didn’t complete the tasks the intended way, the two guys leading the game were appreciative of our approach. This shows that as long as you get good results, it does not matter what way you take and as a leader you should be spontaneous and run with whatever approach the group finds, also if it’s not you intended one; as long as it’s save of course.
After each game we played, we immediately evaluated, discussed, and graded the game from 1-10. That showed the difficulty of grading the first performance without knowing what to expect. Usually neither the best nor the worst scores will be achieved by the first one, because people want to leave space in both direction and pears not wanting to give bad grades to each other. Now in our case, with the first one not being too great but being graded with solid eight points, we had very little room to give better grades. So, although there were many better games in my opinion, they were not graded fairly because we only had left a range of two more points.
After the games and the dinner, which we had to prepare in small groups, presenting it and passing each meal around, we sat by the fire and let the evening end with nice conversations by the fire.
During the night, unfortunately most of the tents got all soaking wet inside because of the heavy rain, so most of us left for the campus. I was quite happy with my new tarp and stayed all dry during the night with the rain dripping on the tarp.