Sunday, October 18, 2015

Amaze Journey Weekend

So far, I haven't talked much about Journeys on this blog. Our troop has done two so far (Amuse as Juniors and Amaze as Cadettes), but frankly, I still don't feel all that comfortable in leading, planning or facilitating them. On both, we struggled to really make the Journeys come "alive" for our girls - too many of the activities felt like schoolwork and too many of the conversations felt forced.

But there is one element I'd like to share - a piece that not only came together as planned, but exceeded all of our expectations. We had already planned a fall camping trip to a Council lodge, which meant we wouldn't have to worry about outdoor cooking and would all be together under one roof. It seemed like a good fit to plan a teambuilding weekend in conjunction with the Amaze Journey.

To be clear, this is not an outline for a "Journey in a Weekend." I know there are more and more Councils offering these types of programs, and there is a probably a way this could be adapted to fit that need, but we also did some Journey activities in meetings leading up to the campout, as well as the Take Action project later in the year. While at first glance, some of these games/activities bear little resemblance to the Journey outline, I thought they all fit well with the overall core messages of teamwork, relationship-building, cooperation, problem-solving and communication. 

It's been a couple years, and I'm working from memory, so hopefully I don't forget too much. Many of these activities are just fun (Journey or no Journey), but it's also important to have a debrief discussion after each to allow the girls to reflect on the experience, what they learned, how the activity fits with real-life experiences, etc.

Alligators -  All you need for this activity is some painter's tape/duct tape. This site also has some good starter questions for the debrief.

Tied Together Obstacle Course - I laid out a short obstacle course, giving the girls things to go around, over and under. (I just used supplies we had on hand - rope, chairs, bags, etc., but you can get creative.) As a troop, the girls had to bind themselves together, leg to leg, using bandanas. They then had to maneuver as a group through the obstacle course.

Minefield - Lay out "mines" across a space - we actually just used construction paper on the floor. Divide the girls into pairs - one is blindfolded and one calls out the directions to help their partner navigate through the minefield. You can do one team at a time, but if you have the space, it's more interesting to do 2-3 teams at a time so they have to learn to block out the other teams and focus on their partner only.

Conversation Starters - Our girls know each other pretty well and for the most part get along great. But during this weekend we really wanted to get the girls to go beyond the usual chatting, open up and learn more about each other. I typed up a number of questions, printed them up and glued them to index cards. These are great to pull out when there's downtime, or during meals/snacks. You can have all the girls answer the same question, or just go around and have each person draw a new card. If you search teen conversation starters, you'll find lots of suggestions out there - like this, this or this.

Marshmallow Building Activity -  Numerous versions of this floating around the interwebs, but we basically split them into teams of 3-5, gave them spaghetti noodles and marshmallows, set a time limit, and asked them to build the tallest structure possible. Besides encouraging creativity and design thinking, it's a great way to use up stale mini-marshmallows. Am I the only one that seems to have a stockpile of these in my cabinet?

Communication Styles - We discussed the four communication styles in reaction to conflict -- passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive and assertive. Here's a good review if you need it.  We asked the girls to think of examples of each in their own life. Then we gave them various scenarios and had them split up into groups to act out the way each communication style would approach the problem. While we all tend to have a default mode, this exercise also goes to show that we can adapt and adjust our communication style to be more assertive in approaching a problem.

Step Right/Step Left - The basic premise of this activity is to line up in a single file, and then step right or left based on whether they agree or disagree with statements read by the leader. There are numerous versions of this I found online, but I modified to fit our goals. We actually played this twice with two different objectives. In both cases, to keep the girls as open and honest as possible, we blindfolded the girls.

The first we played, we focused on universal experiences.

  1. I sometimes feel like my parents don't understand me.
  2. There's something about my appearance I would like to change.
  3. I've lied to a friend or my parents before.
  4. I sometimes feel pressure to be perfect.
  5. I've felt left out before.
  6. I've talked about a friend behind her back before.
  7. I've shared a friend's secret.
  8. I've felt rejected by a friend or guy before.
  9. I've done something I'm ashamed or embarrassed of.
  10. I worry about my future sometimes.
  11. I've cheated, or felt pressure to cheat in school.
  12. I feel like if my friends knew everything about me, they might not still like me.
For the most part, when the girls remove their blindfolds after this series of questions, they'll find they are still pretty close together. This can spark a good discussion about the fact that we all share common feelings and experiences, even though we may feel like the only one.

The second time we played, we focused on unique values and perspectives. There are a million different directions you can go on this one, but here's some possibilities.
  1. It's sometimes ok to tell a lie, if it spares someone's feelings.
  2. I prefer to have just a few close friends rather than a large circle of acquaintances.
  3. It's ok to break the rules sometimes.
  4. I like to wear name-brand or trendy clothes.
  5. I'm always on time for events, and hate being late.
  6. Given the choice, I'd rather do something athletic than artistic.
  7. Wealth and income is a good measure of success.
  8. The popular people are usually the most attractive.
  9. I'm usually the leader or decision-maker in my group of friends.
  10. Getting good grades is extremely important to me.
  11. I'm pretty sure I know what I want do as a career when I'm older.
  12. I tend to be a night owl.
This exercise tends to showcase the differences among girls - and the fact that even among friends, there may be differences in values, beliefs and personalities.

It's helpful to have a few more activities than you think you'll need, because it's  hard to predict how long the girls might want to spend on each and where the discussion will go.

One of the most memorable and surprising activities we did was also the one I most debated even doing. Since this post is already getting too long, I'll share this in a separate post.

1 comment:

  1. I just came across this. Thanks for the ideas. Can you direct me to the post about the most memorable activity you did?? Would love to know.

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