Experiential Learning is our passion, one of the ways we accomplish that is through the use of the Challenge Course. We have three separate courses at WinShape Wilderness all featuring a variety of on-the-ground and off-the-ground elements. Because of this, we are members of an organization called the Association for Challenge Course Technology, or ACCT. This organization keeps us up to industry standards, fuels our creativity and gives us a platform to share our ideas. Team member Mark Suroviec, responsible for challenge course equipment and safety, is also our creative brain on the team. Mark was recently quoted in ACCT’s monthly newsletter, Parallel Lines. Mark and our team members attended the ACCT annual conference and were able to teach other members about some of the cool initiatives we have going on at WinShape Wilderness. One in particular is called “Post Modern Rock Paper Scissors”- a variation on the old favorite.
“Group members shared many of their favorite tricks, tools and variations on activities. Mark Suroviec of Winshape Wilderness shared this great no prop activity he calls “Post-Modern Rock, Paper, Scissors” which he uses as an icebreaker, as way to explore the value of creativity, or to spark reflection on values and different points of view.” (Stanchfield, 2013)
The objective? “ To play Rock, Paper, Scissors with ANYTHING except for Rock, Paper or Scissors! Instead they have the freedom to choose anything they can think of. (Elephant, Lion, Crying Baby, Bulldozer, TNT, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich, Godzilla, Volcano, Black Hole, Peace on Earth, etc.). Two of the people in the group will play against each other, while the third person will act as the judge to determine the winner. “(Stanchfield, 2013)
This icebreaker is great for groups of all sizes and never seems to disappoint due to it’s creativity and hilarity. Thanks for the great ideas Mark, keep them coming!
Stanchfield, J. A. (n.d.). Facilitators toolbox: 10 key components of great facilitation. . (2013). Parallel Lines, 13(2), 18.
Great program with the the RA’s from Southern Polytechnic! Pictured in the Album are some images from Color Blind- an initiative that really draws the participants to communicate in ways they wouldn’t normally, as well the TEC Course. The TEC Course (Team Enrichment Challenge Course) is am eight part high-element where teams stay connected together though each challenge while traversing. The element ends in a celebratory zip line. Check out the shots!
Recently WinShape Wilderness’ International Coordinator had a chance to visit one of our international partners, BlueSky Ministries. BlueSky Ministries is located in right outside of Nairobi, Kenya and has been in action for over 10 years now. BlueSky provides experiential learning through the challenge course and off-site adventures. They also run a summer camp and local community and youth ministries. These services are for Nationals as well as Internationals. We love our relationship with BlueSky and visit multiple times a year. Our most recent trip was centered around training BlueSky facilitators and long-term planning and goal setting with the BlueSky leadership team.
Our passion for working internationally comes from seeing the need for Experiential Learning around the globe and discovering how this type of programming can impact people of all nations. After all, the vision for our organization is to see inspired life-change in people around the world through experiential learning. Working with BlueSky Ministries is just one of the ways we are able to do this.
While our International Coordinator, Sarah, was in Kenya, she was able to journal some thoughts. Read Sarah’s Kenyan Narrative below:
The equatorial sun sinks low into the hazy horizon as I pause for a moment to take in my surroundings. The soft sound of a propane stove whirrs, heating the mix of water, tea and milk that sits in the pot atop it. The deep rumble of a diesel engine grows slowly louder as a white Land Rover Defender emerges from the bush and comes rambling into the otherwise empty campground.
The “campground” is simply a cleared area in the middle of the bush, with crude, thatched-roof shelters (open on all sides) that denote where one’s tent may be set up. The only tents in the campground this particular evening are ours and one other solitary tent on the other side about 30 yards away, by which the LandRover now sits. Surrounding the campground on all sides is the African “bush” – dry, rocky landscape covered with acacia trees and low, thorny shrubs.
A couple yards from where our tents sit a small fire is finally catching in the designated pit, and the crackling sound is a comforting one – the light from the now-set sun is quickly fading, and as the air grows cooler the nocturnal hunters begin to stir. As evening moves into night and the sky changes from blue to deep indigo to black, the glory of the heavens unfolds like it can only when it is completely unpolluted by the lights of any city. It is a sky so full of stars one can hardly pick out any constellations among them, so dark that The Milky Way stands out like a white translucent streak across it.
In the distance we hear the unmistakable, deep, guttural sound of a lion communicating with its pride. I’ve heard this sound before, but now it elicits a very unique feeling as I sit here, out in the open, surrounded by pitch black dark, with nothing between the wild hunter and me. Normally lions hunt antelope and zebra and those sorts of things. But we are in Tsavo National Park in Kenya, and Tsavo has a history of man-eating lions. Mostly it’s just that – history. There have been no man-eating lions in Tsavo for many years. But still, one can’t help but think about it at a time like this.
Kenya (like most places) always impresses me with its vast diversity. Sitting here in the middle of the bush surrounded by wildness and quiet and beauty, the busy and crowded city of Nairobi feels like a different planet. But I was just there this morning. In fact this Tsavo visit is a two-day break in the middle of a longer three-week trip during which I get to work with the BlueSky Adventures team of world-class facilitators in Nairobi. BlueSky is a long-standing partner of ours – like Wilderness, they have a passion for impacting people through experiential learning. And they are amazing at what they do. I’ve just spent the last week watching and observing and learning from them. The concept of team-building is still a novel one here in Kenya, and it’s a moving thing to watch a group of adults experience for the first time what it’s like to climb a 40-foot tall pole and then stand atop it and jump off (there are ropes and harnesses involved, of course).
The excitement around experiential learning here is both refreshing and contagious. I desire to carry this enthusiasm back to Wilderness with me. But even more so, I want to bring back the beautiful faces of Kenyans who have been impacted in a life-changing way by it.
To find out more about our International Program, e-mail email@example.com. Also, check out: http:\\www.BlueSkyKenya.org
We love being creative! And since we work in the field of experiential learning, we get to do a lot of it! This week we worked with one of our favorite groups – Emory University’s MBA program. The highlight of our time together was getting to facilitate a program we call “Video Rebuild”.
It works like this:
Choose a music video (with a lot of dancing) to recreate – we like “Ok Go: A Million Ways”
Then we separated our participants into teams, each team containing three main roles: the Producer, the Director and the Actors/Dancers. Each team has one Producer, one Director, and 3-4 Dancers. The Producer is the only person who sees the original music video the actors will eventually recreate. The producer must then relay the every thing about the video to the Director, however he or she can only verbally communicate. Then, the Director will communicate the information to the actors. The producer is never allowed to communicate with the actors. So the challenge happens with the translation and communication techniques the teams choose to use.
Then, throw in a time limit, a couple of video cameras and a lot of dancing – and out comes the final product.
This is a great activity because it challenges groups to evaluate communication styles, create a vision together as a team and rely on talents and skill to carry it out, as well as practice leadership in direction and production. Not to mention, the teams walk away with a very hip music video- Check them out below! The first section of the clip shows the original music video followed by the creative work of Emory – enjoy!
Lots has been happening on the Mountain in the past month. We have worked with all ranges of groups. One of our highlights was working with a local Girl Scout Troop. This was slated to be a busy and interactive program including a campout and night hike. The goal of the troop was to become more comfortable with camping while focusing on trust and love in a fun setting. The girls were able to stretch their skill set learning how to navigate themselves to find team building challenges on our woodsy campus. After completing the challenges, the girls faced a different kind of challenge that consisted of cooking their dinner out of doors. Our WinShape Wilderness guides Sarah and Rebecca were able to help them pull of a great meal of pasta with a variety of toppings and sauces. They were definitely “Leave no Trace” compliant too – they packed out all their trash out, hung bear bags and dug the ever-popular sump hole for all liquid waste. After dinner the girls embarked on a night hike in the dark. They set out with out flashlights and found their way to the destination by following glow sticks and completing group challenges along the way. After the hike all that was left was to fall asleep under starry sky that blankets our 26,000 acre home base. As a result the girls were able to gain a closeness with each other that only comes from being stretched in a environment that challenging yet safe and fun. Great memories were made! Check out our Facebook page for a complete album of pictures from this program. (If you haven’t already- be sure to “like” it!) They contain all the excitement of experiential learning and the great outdoors!
Two of our facilitators, Sarah and Eric, recently had the pleasure of training three Berry College students on top rope climbing skills. The students had a lot of experience climbing in our on campus indoor gym and really wanted to get outside on some real rock. So they called upon WinShape Wilderness to take them to the site and teach them safely how to set routes. They headed out to Sand Rock Alabama to learn all the basics like choosing the proper route, setting and building top rope anchors, climbing etiquette and cleaning the route when they were done. They even got to climb a little too! Thanks for the experience!
We spent the day filming a short instructional video for WinShape International. WinShape International is going to do some of our initiatives and activities overseas with international business leaders while they teach the SERVE Model. We filmed the video so everyone who teaches the content could really understand how do teach the activities as well. All of the activities were chosen to enhance the SERVE signature program. It rained during the shooting, but we still had a blast demonstrating what we do best!