April 2014 Archives

There are many facets to great facilitators. But the main commonality is they never stop developing their craft.

If you are looking to go from being a good facilitator to a great facilitator with a style authentic to who you are and what you believe in, the High 5 Training Team has some tips for you!

1. Watch other facilitators at work. Observe the group behavior and reactions. Are they engaged? Is anyone disengaged? How do they create buy-in and inclusivity in ways that are barely detectable? Do they use language that empowers and is strength-based? Make note of what works and what flops.
2. Take a good look at how you use humor. Do you use it in a way that is engaging or in a way that shuts people down? Beware of sarcasm. Sarcasm is generally only funny to a small percentage of your group and is frequently regarded as a cloak for the insecure.
3. Practice silence. Watch facilitators you admire and see how long they remain silent after giving instruction, asking if there are questions or asking for feedback.
If you are talking more than 40% of the time in your program, you are probably talking too much. Start practicing staying quiet with family and friends. See how much more you learn and observe!
4. Become Comfortable with Metaphors. Start out by taking some of the traditional or classic adventure games and incorporating metaphors that speak to the nuances, community or culture of your group. Pay attention to how other more experience facilitators incorporate metaphor into their programs.
5. Maintain a Solid Foundation. While a lot of new and shiny ideas come and go, the best facilitators aren't afraid to try new things, but they always have a solid foundation upon which they can rely. Sometimes the most traditional, tried and true activities and methods are the ones that have the most meaning for the group.
6. Over Prepare While Remaining Flexible. If you are over prepared for each program, you will never be at a loss or fumbling when the unexpected crops up. However, the great facilitators are also flexible, skillfully going where the group takes them.
7. Create a Community of Practice. Seek out other facilitators who are also interested in continual growth and development. Get together on line and share stories, ideas, resources and key learning. Take turns watching videos of each person facilitating. And practice giving and receiving feedback at the end of each call.
8. Document. Keep a reflection journal of your facilitation experiences. Make notes of what went well, what was challenging and what you'd do differently. Use this as your "go to" resource when creating programs.
9. Read and Watch. There are great books and resources available to help you develop your craft. Some High 5 favorite books: Islands of Healing, A Guide to Adventure Based Counseling by Schoel, Prouty and Radcliffe; Open to Outcome, Journey towards the Caring Classroom; Frank, The Processing Pinnacle; Simpson, Teachable Moments; Cain, Cummings, Stanchfield, Happiness Hypothesis; Haight, Teaching with Love and Logic; Fay & Fink. Some High 5 Favorite TedTalks: Brene Brown, Jane McGonigal, Shawn Achor, Derek Sivers, and Seth Godin.
10. Participate in Professional Groups. Some of the groups that provide educational opportunities for facilitators include: AEE, ACA and ACCT. Presenting is another great way to polish your skills. Start with some of the smaller regional conferences.
11. Never Stop Growing. The best of the best understand there is always room for growth. They are constantly reading, observing, practicing, taking workshops and trying out new ideas.

And if you like this activity, you can find over 30 more in the Ubuntu Activity Guide.

Join us at the Ubuntu Workshop and get the Ubuntu Activity Guide FREE!


Thanks to Scott Goldsmith for this fun activity. Two teams go head-to-head in an attempt to capture everyone onto their team. But which team are you on?

Group Size: Larger Group
Time: 10 minutes

Competition is not always evil; in fact it can be a great motivator to enhance performance. The key is to create a situation in which players practice positive sportsmanship and celebrate victories, instead of demeaning losses. This activity allows for competitive spirits to shine while blurring the defined lines of what team they belong to.

1. This game uses the multi-image side of the cards.
2. Divide the group equally into two teams.
3. Place a spot marker on the ground and have these two teams line up across from one another (the first person in line on each team is face-to-face with the spot marker between them).
4. Give each participant a card and ask that they not peek at the multi-image side.
5. On GO, the two participants at the front of each line flip over their card to the multi-image side.
6. The player who finds the matching image first captures the other player onto their team and they both go to the back of the line.
7. The next person in line on each team steps up to the spot marker and shows their multi-image side.
8. First to person to find the match captures the other player onto their team.
9. Continue play until one team has all the players or it stops being fun.

This is not a particularly heady game; however, it does offer an opportunity to talk about sportsmanship. It is interesting to watch players as they cheer each other on. Ask players which team they were on? Why did they choose that particular team?

By giving each participant a card, some players will begin to memorize their cards and know what the match is with other players before they even come to the line. If you are playing with a smaller group, this is more likely to happen. An alternative way to play which would eliminate this possible scenario would be to give the first person in the line half the deck of cards. He or she would turn over the first card and then pass off the deck to the next person, placing the spent card on the bottom of the deck.

Greetings Challenge Course friends,

Here are some basic tips for caring for the rope you use on your challenge course. These are only guidelines. Proper rope care and inspection not only will support risk management, but also extend your equipment budget! It is your responsibility to become educated on proper care and maintenance of your climbing ropes.

Questions? Call or email us! Or attend Beyond Basics - Advanced Challenge Course Skills

1. The most important rule for ropes is to not take them for granted, they are important and should be treated with care.

2. Before each use, inspect ropes for breaks, cuts, abrasion and melted or fused fibers.

3. Use ropes only for their intended purpose, they're not for playing games and boundaries.

4. Keep a rope log tracking use.

5. Manage your belay stations well to avoid damaging the ropes by stepping on them.

6. When a rope is not in use, coil it neatly and store it in a designated space that is dry, free of chemicals, dirt, and out of direct sunlight.

7. Do not leave knots in the rope. This is a quick way to damage your rope.

8. Clean ropes periodically to remove dirt and grit. One way is to rinse them with a garden hose in a large tub and allow them to air dry. Don't use solvents, bleach or a harsh detergent and never use heat to dry them. Mild soap or liquid laundry detergent can be used.

We hope this is helpful! If so, feel free to share. And remember to follow us on Twitter @High5Adventure and Facebook

Check out our full line of rope and equipment in the High 5 store

Tired of the same old community building games? Looking for something fresh and unexpected?

Grab the best deal in town! Access to over 30 activities with one prop smaller than your smart phone...literally. The Ubuntu Deck and Activity Guide. And only $31.75 (INCLUDES SHIPPING in US).

Beth Wonson, leadership and team building consultant, says, "I've used Ubuntu in several ways with the same management team. The first time was around identifying team strengths. Then we used the "Junk Drawer" activity to let go of behaviors we'd outgrown. Next we used it to share how we applied behavioral norms. Ubuntu is a small but versatile and powerful tool. I always keep it in my computer bag on consulting gigs!"

The activities in the guide have been compiled by both High 5 Trainers Ryan McCormick and Chris Ortiz as well as submitted from practitioners in the field. Grab your set today, play around with them and then send us your feed back and ideas. You just may see your name and activity in Ubuntu Guide TWO!

Have fun and share with us how you like it!


Imagine a teacher in-service day organized by students! Would that ever happen at your school?

It happens at Keene High School in Keene, NH. Keene High School is a High 5 Edge of Leadership (EOL) site. And this is not the first time the students in the EOL program organized and facilitated the in-service day. Their goal: building stronger connections between faculty and students. Amazing.

One of the teachers at the end of the day said, "You know, we don't get too many opportunities to just talk with students. I mean we teach subject matter and we educate them, but this was more about the school community, how they see it and how they feel about their education."

Another amazing Edge of Leadership (EOL) day at High 5!

With thanks to our corporate partner, C&S Wholesale Grocers.

Interested in starting an Edge of Leadership Program at your school? Contact Ryan McCormick at High 5 (802.254.8718)

The days are longer, the weather is warmer and if you are like us here at High 5, you can't wait to get outside and start programming on your challenge course! Now is a great time to join the ranks of Certified Challenge Course Practitioner! Or to simply to give your skills a boost!

Join us on April 17 for a Skills Refresher one-day workshop at our beautiful Brattleboro, VT campus. We'll start the day with a needs assessment to address areas of challenge or to stretch and grow your skills.Through out the day we'll review, refresh and refine basic technical skills for challenge course operations.

Then, if you choose, you can join us on April 18 for either Level 1 Challenge Course Practitioner Certification or or Level 2 Challenge Course Practitioner Certification.

Not sure if you are ready for certification? Just come for the refresher on April 17 or read through the requirements for Certification or give us a call to discuss. 802.254.8718 or 877.356.4445

It's going to be a great few days in Vermont and we can't wait to see you there!

Recent Comments

  • Rachel Sampson: I would like to try this but can't find where read more
  • Jen Ottinger: Hi Ryan! Great words to live by. read more
  • markcollardinc: Ryan, I saw Michelle Cummings present this exercise earlier this read more
  • markcollardinc: Ditto! We - Ryan, Nate and me - all reading read more
  • markcollardinc: Hey Ryan, why is this activity called Ubuntu CIRCLE when read more
  • higherbeing: Love it! read more
  • Wes: Hi Ryan. I am currently looking into establishing a physics read more
  • Ryan McCormick: Thanks Nate, I love this activity and find useful in read more
  • Nate Folan: Right on Ryan! This activity is very effective. Thanks for read more
  • Ryan McCormick: Well, it depends on the size of the group. With read more