Trust Walk Challenge
The TRUST WALK was one of the favourite Challenges for most campers at Survivor Camp 4. They loved the first-hand experience of empathy and trust it gave them.
The way it worked was that each member of a Clan had to compete a 2 acre Commando Obstacle Course while blindfolded. This meant that one member became the Guide for a blindfolded member, and then they switched roles. The Clan which the leaders deemed the most trustworthy would win the Trust Walk Challenge.
To be trustworthy, as a Guide, you would really need get into the blindfolded person’s world and look after them, have them know that you can be trusted to tell them the important things that will keep them feeling safe. As a blindfolded person, trustworthiness would mean that you totally trusted your Guide and didn’t try to use your eyes.
If the Clans were equally trustworthy at the end of the Trust Walk Challenge, we would give the points to the Clan who got all of their members through the Obstacle Course first.
We set the Challenge up by saying that when in the Guide role, it’s important to think about what it would be like to be blindfolded, outdoors in a place you’ve never been, doing things you’ve never done. We asked them to think about what they would like to know if they were blindfolded. What would you want your Guide to say to you? How fast would you like to walk? How would you like to be held as you’re walking? To empathise with the blindfolded person, the Guide would have to consider their partner's experience and not their own.
I was blown away at the care some campers took to really look after their partner. They would talk them through every step of the course. They would tell them exactly how high they needed to step up, what was coming next, how high the grass was, where to put their hands to get stability.
I acknowledged them when we processed the experience and told them that I would have wanted them to be my partner in this experience. This opened up a great discussion on empathy and feeling into what the blindfolded person would need to hear and experience to trust and feel safe.
When one of our senses is shut down, our other senses become activated in a new way - and we tune in to our hearing even more to get clues about our world. Some of the kids talked their partner through each step of the obstacle course with incredible detailed descriptions of where they were, what was coming next, how many steps until the next obstacle, and encouraging words like “it’s not too high” and “we’re almost there.” It was incredibly sweet to watch them take ownership over their partner’s experience and try with all they had to make it a good one.
One thing that was really great in the set-up of the Trust Walks is that the kids themselves thought it would be best to NOT partner with their closest friends. They felt it would be better to partner with people they didn’t know well to keep it “serious,” as they said. I was so impressed by their ability to predict a potential problem if they were buddied up with a close friend...goofing around and being silly....which they knew they would have enjoyed, but also knew wouldn't work well.
For example, the Black Clan had an equal number of boys and girls and they felt they’d like to partner up as boy/girl partners because the boys didn’t know the girls well. That was a surprise me because the boys and girls still seem to be avoiding any unnecessary contact with each other. But it was unanimous and they all seemed so keen to proceed in this way. I thought that was wonderfully wise and I think they were right.
I love going with the intuition of the kids it arises. And I think that this is what is soinspiring for the kids through these camps - they have the experience of being able to tailor the challenges when they need to, to keep it ‘fair’ or to make it more practical, to make it more fun, or to make the challenges run more smoothly.
I try very hard to not be attached to my plans for challenges, even though I’ve spent many hours creating them, because the kids naturally want to contribute their ideas. Part of the beauty of camps at The Group is that the kids have their say. They become leaders not because someone has asked them to, but because they themselves step up. They make suggestions, and the adults really listen, let them have their say, and then go with the feelings of the group. As a result, they start to see themselves as people who can see gaps, better ways, possible problems, and solutions. Then they begin to know themselves as good at making suggestions. They start to see that their suggestions can make a difference, and that people respect their ideas. Ultimately, they begin to see themselves as individuals who have the power to create change. That is monumental learning.