Lessons For Life

Two days ago, I was working with year 7 children at a Field Studies Council outdoor education center in the Lake District. Our activities for the day were a low ropes course, an obstacle course and team games.

I was also working with Becki, who is very good at engaging the attention of children. Animated and enthusiastic, she learns their names and can draw them into a quiet huddle where they will all listen at once.

The low ropes course is like a ‘Go Ape’ high ropes course but close to the ground. It included stepping stones, tight ropes, a cargo net, see-saws, balance beams and swinging platforms for the children to cross without touching the ground.

There was a wide range of ability in the group, including two small girls and two autistic boys who found the course to be quite an adventure. The scope for building confidence was plain to see as the children pushed themselves through challenges with a good deal of success.

One of the little girls went last on a crossing and her short arms couldn’t reach from one rope to the next whilst she balanced on a steel cable. Just one of her taller team members would have been able to cross behind her and help. It was a poignant moment that demonstrated the importance of good teamwork.

Moving onto the obstacle course, teamwork was actively promoted by splitting the group into small teams. Each team was given a length of rope to hold with at least one hand at all times, forcing the children to slow down, pay attention to each other’s needs and communicate effectively.

After scrambling over, stooping under and wriggling through several logs, branches, plastic tubes and a cargo net stuck to the ground, the teamwork and communication amongst the children improved noticeably. The finale was a climb over a 6-foot wall, where the whole team came back together with lots of lifting, pulling, encouragement and support.

In the evening, I was supervising ‘Marble Run’, a game where each team member stands in a line and holds a length of open tube for the marble to roll along. Getting the marble from the start to finish requires the person at the back of the line to move swiftly to the front and so on. If the marble is touched or falls to the floor, the team must start again. It’s easy when everyone knows how.

Learning the skills and communicating them throughout a success hungry team of 12 people whilst under considerable time pressure is quite a challenge, especially for 10 and 11 year old children pressured to learn maths, english and science every day. The teams who were able to listen to each other and remain positive in the face of failure succeeded.

Some themes emerged from the day: adventure, balance, challenge, communication, confidence, coordination, encouragement, failure, positivity, success, support and teamwork. It’s wonderful to see children learning about these and I hope they will continue in their day-to-day lives at home and in school.

Posted: October 22nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

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