Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Take your team from ‘Forming’ and ‘Storming’  to ‘Norming’ and ‘Performing’ with these activities... 

all you need is yourself, or someone else willing to lead the group, and a tarp or old sheet... 

Name Game: 

Ask participants to share your name' and ‘show us your best dance move’!


Icebreaker: Quick Draw (Tarp drop)

After participants have played an initial name game, separate the group in half. Have two leaders/facilitators hold up a tarp or sheet, then each group will send one member up. The goal is to say the name of the person on the other side of the sheet first. Count to 3 and drop the sheet. You can just enjoy playing or keep score. Mix up the teams and play again!

Building Comfort and Communication: The Tarp Flip

Gather your group on top of tarp or sheet, preferably with two visually distinct sides. Instruct them to try and flip it over without stepping off of the tarp. Identify a consequence for teammates stepping off, such as having the entire team restart or continue on with out being able to speak to one another. You could time the group and then challenge them to set a goal to beat. For another variation, start blindfolding one participant at a time at random as the group works together to beat the challenge. By blindfolding a participant after each minute that passes, the group will develop a grater sense of urgency to complete the challenge, and it adds to the fun for older groups. For an even more advanced version, instruct participants that they may not use their hands during the challenge. Be sure to celebrate your success after flipping the tarp completely over, and discuss how teammates worked together to achieve their goal.


Building Communication, Problem Solving, Personal Accountability to the Community, and Observational Skills: Maze of life

As demonstrated on the tarp, create a grid with whatever (safe) means you have. For example, use chalk on blacktop or duct tape on a tarp to make a 6’x8’ grid with around 4-8 rows and columns. (Depending on desired length and complexity, given age, time parameters and group size. The smaller the easier.) On  separate sheet of paper, draw the grid as it appears on your “maze” (grid). On your paper (prepare before group arrives) draw a path going from a designated entrance to a designated exit.  Participants can move forward and backward, side-to-side, but not diagonally, so draw your path accordingly. It is best to be as clear in your drawing as possible, try walking the path yourself. Consider creating a path that would require unanticipated movements, such as stepping backwards. (This leads to valuable material in debriefing time!)

When participants arrive: “Welcome to the maze of life, this is a silent activity during which your mouths are frozen shut and tongues frozen too, so there is no verbal communication between participants.” Each facilitator has a unique way of indicating nonverbal communication is allowed, like hand signals and facial expressions. This activity is best for older groups, 7th grade to adult, and you presentation will vary depending on the age.  Explain directions of movement and goal to get the entire team from the entrance to the exit of the maze. Let participants know how they will know if they are ‘on the right path’ or ‘hit  a wall’ (I use a bell and make an ‘ugh’ sound). Instruct the team each person must make it thought the maze once before a teammate can enter a second time, and each person must go through (who has not already made it through) each round.

Activity is complete when everyone is through the maze. This activity, as with the others, should be debriefed. Please talk to your participants about what they were feeling and what their successes were as individuals and as a team.

Culmination Activity, Putting it all together: Sea of Discontent

This will be provided in email format to workshop participants. 

*This is a follow-up to the Discoveries Workshop, ‘Teambuilding on a Dime’. If you are interested in learning more about the content of this workshop, or to schedule a workshop tailored to meet your needs, please email

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monkey Fist has been on spring break during April 

As the sun is out longer each day, so am I. The warming weeks of April called me outdoors, to enjoy hiking and fishing all over Washington’s ever-changing landscape. Check out some of my photos below to share in my celebration of spring.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Weekly Activity Idea


This game is fun for groups of just about any size. It can be used as an icebreaker, a field game, and as no cost entertainment requiring no supplies.

Explain that this game is sort of like "rock, paper, scissors" with a twist. Crouching down to the ground, yell "EGG". Standing and strutting like a chicken, yell "CHICKEN". Standing up straight and acting like a dinosaur, I prefer 'Velociraptor' (see Jurassic Park if you need inspiration and are old enough), yell "VELOCIRAPTOR", or you're favorite dinosaur. Now, for the final character I like to go to 'Elvis' and flash some mad hip gyrations, guitar strums, and lip lifts, however, any pop star your group will laugh at works. Yell "ELVIS" and show your moves. Have your group participants mirror each movement/ character as you introduce them.

Everyone starts out an egg. The goal is to "evolve" into Elvis. Eventually most participants will cycle through being Elvis for a short time, however most will be chickens and eggs for a majority of the game. Participants move up the ranks from Egg to Chicken to Velociraptor to Elvis (or whatever fun or even educational levels you wish to create) by playing each other in "rock, paper, scissors". Winners move up a level and losers go done a level or stay an egg. The play is at random and participants wander about playing each other  and acting like the character level they are currently ranked (egg, chicken, etc.)

Play generally takes a few minutes to start as participants get used to the game. Play picks up, and I find many groups lose interest within 20 minutes. You can simply end the game or add your own creative twist. I enjoy a good spontaneous dance party with everyone choosing their favorite character from the game to dance as.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Weekly Activity ideas (with video!)

"Bob the Weasel" This game is a long time camp favorite to break the ice and fill time where ever you roam as "Bob" can be any small object, such as a rock or small toy. Check out this YouTube video by "Ultimate Camp Resource" so you can introduce "Bob" to your group.

Other fantastic games, such as "Giants, Wizards, Elves", are also featured in the videos.

I am looking forward to hearing back from you on which videos and games you like best. Post your stories and comments on the MonkeyFist Facilitation Facebook page.

*Monkey Fist Facilitation has no connection to 'Ultimate Camp Resource'. This is simply a wonderful resource for videos, such as the ones requested during this year's day camp leadership retreat.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Icebreaker idea of the week: Screaming Trees!

Icebreaker idea of the week: Screaming Trees!
Break your large group into several small groups of at least four youth. Instruct the children to stand in a circle, toe to toe, pretending they are ‘a grove of trees’, connected at the roots. Tell them to look at the ground, and then look up towards another particpant’s face on the count of three. Instruct the children top scream and run to a new tree grove (circle) if they make eye contact with another tree (person) in their group. Count to three, watch the children switch circles, and then loudly count to three again. 

The game generally takes on a life of its own for 15 minutes or so with minimal adult leadership required. Watch for groups needing help or children getting left out. I generally yell, “freeze” and instruct the group the game can’t go on until all of the trees are in a grove.  As some of our fellow leaders pointed out, some children do not respond well to loud noise or the chaotic nature of the game, while others thrive in this environment. Be sure to watch for children in need of support. 

Please share any variations, comments or other ideas for icebreakers!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Greeting Friends of Monkey Fist Facilitation!

For the past year I have enjoyed taking on a new professional challenge working in community mental health, first as a case manager, and presently as a mental health therapist for individuals and groups. It has been a wonderful opportunity to learn and to serve, which has demanded a great deal of my energy.
One of my New Year's resolutions has been to find more time for MFF and my work with the local outdoor leadership community. Many thanks to GSWW's Day Camp Retreat organizer, Lisa Bond, for inviting me back to spend another wonderful afternoon playing games with friends old and new. A participant at that event suggested I create some demo videos of games, instead of just written instruction. I love the idea and plan to post videos here in the near future. 

Thank you for your continued support and my best wishes to you as you embark on fulfilling your own resolutions for 2013!