Lap Lounging

Type of Activity: Trust - HIGH RISK

Props Needed: None

Set Up: Need an area large enough for half of your group to make a mid-size circle. Plays well with 24 (or more) for 25 to 35 minutes.

Process: (This ones a bit wordy, but well worth the time.) Before we even start to explain this activity we will first invite the group to participate in a more “intimate” activity (right away you might sense that even asking this question is only for certain groups – and you are right). Intimate means they will be in close contact with each other – within each others personal space. Remind them that there is always a choice within the activity that will allow a participant to be involved in a less intimate way. If the group agrees we move ahead with the explanation.

The overall concept is that participants will be lying in the lap of a participant behind them in a half sitting half lying configuration (stick with us here). The formation of this activity is a circle so each participant will be lying in a lap and their own lap will be laid upon (see the picture included).

The set up of this goes in methodical stages. Ask participants to pair up with someone close to their height and weight (if there are an odd number of participants we can usually work the extra person into the second Lounging opportunity with a participant whose partner does not care to Lounge). One of the partners is going to be the lounger the other will be the spotter. Have the loungers form a Double Chicken Wing circle (see The Chicken Game in Get to Know You’s) and then turn to there right (just make sure all the loungers are facing the same direction). At this point you, the facilitator, might need to rearrange some participants. You want to avoid extreme variations in size among participants who are next to each other, e.g., the tallest participant is standing behind the shortest participant. Variations in height are not an issue; just get a nice flow of short to tall. (Some of you might be noticing that the set up is like the traditional Lap Sit activity – true, but we’re not going to “sit” on laps.) At this point the spotters come in. Spotters will be kneeling down to the outside of their partner, slightly behind them, on their right knee and placing their left leg up as a seat for their partner. (It has been suggested that if you have something available to kneel on to provide some cushion for the knee, it is very helpful. If you are able to perform the lounge outside in the grass you can have some natural cushion.) The loungers then sit down, carefully, on their partner’s leg. Before moving ahead the position of the participants might need adjustment. Each seated lounger will need to have the small of their back (or seat area) as close the knees of the participant behind them as possible – not sitting on any part of the participant behind. You will also want to make sure the shape of the circle is round!!!  So, adjust away (this tends to be when the spotters’ knees take a beating). When the group is nice and round, seats to knees, they are ready for a lounge. Together, usually on a count of 1, 2, 3, the loungers slowly lie back into the lap of the participant behind them. Each spotter can use their hands and arms to support their partners reclining. Here they have reached the “intimate” point. As the facilitator, help the group/loungers adjust their positions enough so that they all feel comfortable and supported by the participant behind them, because, we’re not done yet.

The loungers are all going to arch their backs up, by pushing off their feet and squeezing their glutes together, enough so that their spotter/partners can remove her or his leg. Spotters must bring their leg out by PULLING THEIR LEFT FOOT TOWARDS THEM and then taking out their leg. DO NOT push the left foot into the middle of the circle and then take the leg out (if their partner where to fall to the ground the spotter’s leg would be in a bad position!) Please review the extraction again. All the while the spotters are removing their legs they should be keeping hand contact with their partner in a way that provides some stabilization – lower back and shoulder areas. Once the leg of the spotter is out, the lounger can relax – un-arch their back – into the lap they are in.

The physics here is the weight of each participant is distributed through the entire area of the lounge contact of the circle. When all the spotter’s legs are out and the circle of loungers has stabilized, have the spotters give the loungers a little room so they can feel their independence – spotters should however stay close by! It is a pretty remarkable feeling to be within the lounging circle. It is also just as remarkable to observe the structure of participants.

After a few moments of revelation the process needs to be reversed. Spotters get ready at the side of their partners. Loungers need to arch back up enough so their partner can get their leg back under for support. When all the spotters are back in place you can call a “1, 2, 3,” before the loungers slowly sit back up – spotters supporting them during the incline. After the celebration of the accomplishment, switch roles so the spotters can now take a lounge.

Note: Again, be mindful of safety every step of the way. Check in with spotters – they are taking most of the physical risk. Check in with loungers to make sure they feel stable before removing their spotters. Make sure the structure of the circle is sound. These precautions don’t take long, so make sure you take the time! Have fun, this is a fabulous activity.

Debriefing Topics:

  • What did it feel like to be supported by the group?
  • What pushed you outside your comfort zone?
  • Did you see anything new in yourself or a teammate today?
  • What feelings did you experience?
  • How did it feel to be responsible for someone else’s safety?

For more resources see: The Empty Bag

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