The 'Aha' Moment
It was time for the next session to start, but our speaker was in another room with a student and the group leader, giving some additional counsel. The rest of the middle-school group was getting restless. Our five minute water break had already stretched into ten minutes (an exasperating length by any grade-school standard). A few more minutes and we’d lose their focus.
“What do we do?” One of the staff members asked me.
Would you know what to say at this moment? For some people, this is the kind of scenario they live for--it puts them on an accelerated energy high. Others, are sweating profusely just thinking about that first paragraph. I tend to lean towards the second group of people (not by much, just enough that my stomach flutters a bit in these types of situations). However, I’ve learned that with preparation you can be equipped to know exactly what to do in these times.
“Divide everybody into two teams,” I said and made for my backpack.
I pulled out two rolls of tubular webbing and with a water knot in each made two Raccoon Circles. From there the games began. Shortly afterward, the speaker and group leader were back and we got back on track with the evening’s program.
In this occasion, we were able to take a situation that would have resulted in bored Middleschoolers wondering why they had to be here and turned it into an interlude of engaging activities that served to create memories and strengthen group dynamic. All it took was two 15ft strands of tubular webbing and a short list of games that I always keep in mind for moments like this.
It can be a scary moment when a snag happens in your program. That’s why it’s so important to have a short list of games that can be played at any given moment to buy time and keep the group engaged. You may already have games coming to your mind that could form just such a list, things like Ninja, Mafia, Themed Charades. Those can work. The important thing is that they are games that you yourself are interested in--the facilitator’s tone sets the tone for the group.
I have two major resources I pull from to make (and continually refresh) my list. They are Jim Cain’s “Find Something To Do” and “The Revised and Expanded Book of Raccoon Circles” by Jim Cain and Tom Smith. The first book is nice because it primarily describes games that require no props; the second is nice because you only need one backpack of raccoon circles to play around 200 games.
The game I played in this scenario is called “Grand Prix Racing” and can be found in this free PDF from Teamwork and Teamplay.
Raccoon Circle Activities
Riley Peak grew up in Ocoee, TN. His love for experiential learning as a tool for sharing God’s Word with others was kindled at the local camp he grew up attending. Since his teen years, Riley has been crafting environments and lessons where people can learn Biblical truths in an interactive way. He is the Director of Edgeway and currently lives in Cleveland, TN.