Thursday, June 30, 2016

Lean Away!

I was really excited to do the Challenge Course today because I heard people talk about the crazy outdoor tasks we do. However, I wasn't really excited about waking up earlier than usual. The Women and Leadership class met up in the Buxton Lounge at 7:15 AM to get our tick socks. They were these long socks that repelled ticks. It looked a little silly because we all had them pulled them over our pants. 
Komal, Lynda, Bailey, Ishani, Krystal
We went to the Ratty to eat breakfast before our bus ride. I thought we would ride school buses but instead, we rode fancier charter buses. They had nice air conditioning, but it was a little too cold for me at one point. 
Magic school bus
Our class wasn't the only one there. I think there were two other classes. All of us formed one huge circle and Heather, the Challenge Course leader, introduced herself along with all the RA's. We went over the site's heavy Wampanoag and Native history, safety, ticks and our goals for today when working with our teams, such as taking time to work together rather than working fast and solo to accomplish a goal. Bug spray, sunscreen and tick spray was applied on us after. Everyone was eager to start and we soon broke off into our groups. I was with Skenda and Nicole's group. Tina was there as well. 
The circle of life

We started off with some name games and energizers to wake ourselves up from our long, tiring nights and to just be more familiar with each other. One of the games had us pass a ball and say the person's name while throwing it. I was already familiar with this exercise before and I still found it to be fun and made it easier to remember names. Along with that, we experimented some challenge by choice by setting a goal to make the round faster by using different techniques. We finished passing the ball to everyone with a record of seven seconds.

Our group also attempted the human knot. We held different people's hands and tried to undo the giant mess which was the knot of arms everywhere restricting people. After a lot of tries, we ended up in two separate circles which was unusual.

Another fun thing we did was a leaning trust activity in which one person was a leaner and the other was a spotter. The leaner basically leans backwards and the spotter catches and supports them back up. My partner was Ishani and we tried to catch each other from farther distances, which was both scary and relieving. We also tried being "willows in the wind" by having one person in the middle leaning with spotters in the outer circle. 

The next thing we learned how to do was "levitate" someone into the air. Basically, there are people on each side and a person supporting the head of the person being lifted into the air. There's a very specific technique and stance with safely doing so. We levitated Camila into the air since she was the smallest. The commands we used for levitating someone or leaning were "Spotters ready? Ready. Leaning. Lean Away." This required a lot of communication and taking time to check up on everyone to make sure they were okay or comfortable. I had a lot of fun but at times it was scary lifting someone up out of the fear I'd drop them.
We soon had some lunch. There was a variety of sandwiches. I took the Ham and Swiss Cheese sandwich along with some chips and Dr. Pepper. I ate lunch with some women in my group and a bunch of random topics were discussed, such as politics and Spanish.

After lunch, we continued with our challenge course. My group and the other half of Women and Leadership faced each other off in a battle of Giants, Wizards, Elves. It was like Rock, Paper, Scissors but with people. I had a lot of fun with that because it had team collaboration and physical activity, which added to my excitement about our activities that seem so random.

While walking to the set up courses, we tried a challenge in which we paired up with someone and one person was blind and one person was the guider. I had my eyes closed while walking along a trail and my new friend Ananya guided me. We switched off. It was interesting how scary it was to walk with eyes closed but we did a good job describing the surroundings, giving warnings and giving assurance that everything was okay. 
The view from our walk
Thinking About Life ft. Tick Socks
Our first challenge out there was the Islands one. There were three small stands and all ten of us had to fit in the first one and find a solution to get everyone across to the second then third one by using two planks. One plank wasn't long enough so we had to combine them. Something I noticed was that people were talking over each other a lot and it became stressful because as a group we acted without much thought and strategy. We talked about this while we debriefed and everyone was definitely a little bummed out but we tried to do better in the next challenge.

The second challenge had us set goals for ourselves to walk on tight ropes connected to trees. This was one of my favorite ones because I found it easy to balance and I felt helpful when supporting people that walked on the rope. We accomplished our first goal of getting everyone across two ropes, but for our second goal, we couldn't finish it because of time. However, we found ways to effectively make strategies and give the most support by spotting.

Our third challenge was called the Spider Web. There were ropes set up that looked like a spider web and we had to use levitation to get as many people as we can through the holes in the web without touching the ropes or having two people go through at once. It was actually very difficult because we had to be super careful about carrying each other and using proper levitation techniques. Camila, Natalie and I were the ones that ended up being lifted and being lifted actually felt awesome. I wasn't scared and I trusted these ladies to get me through the other side carefully. I appreciated that everyone took each others feelings and thoughts into consideration rather than trying to accomplish a single person's goal.

For each activity we did, there was a lot of reflection and discussion about how we did and its application to team building and leadership. We even returned as the giant group to discuss. Today was really fun and probably one of my favorite challenges so far in my journey at Brown. 

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