Making the Commitment-Outside In

Type of Activity: Visual Group Connection

Props Needed: Webbing

Set Up: At the beginning of many teambuilding or adventure-based learning activities, many facilitators will incorporate some form of group commitment ceremony, or at the minimum some form of informed consent regarding the activities about to be performed. Choosing the level of  challenge, contracting between facilitator and participant, and presenting an environment where participants can choose to join in, without being coerced, are a valuable part of the team’s commitment, and the group process of enabling a collection of individuals to work and play together.  To this end, Outside In is a brief activity where individuals make the conscious choice to “join” the group for the upcoming session.

Process: Place one or more Raccoon Circles on the ground, and have the group gather around the outside. After explaining the “contract” between a challenge course facilitator and the members of the group (i.e. choosing how to be a part of the challenge for the day, being fully present, listening to the other members of the group, keeping physical and   emotional safety a priority, etc.), ask the group members to indicate their level of commitment to the event by approaching the Raccoon Circles, and entering a circle as far as their level of commitment. For some folks, this will mean standing at the center of one of the Raccoon Circles (fully committed). For others, this will mean standing within one of the Raccoon Circles (committed), or perhaps only one foot within a Raccoon Circle (partially committed). Finally, if the level of participation is a true option for your program, it is possible that some participants may initially be comfortable only when standing outside the commitment circle. While this may not be the desired or optimal situation, it does give you valuable feedback as a facilitator as to the whether your initial introduction to your program enables participants to make a commitment, or leave them slightly less than committed, given the information and contracting that you have presented.

Typically, most facilitators would like to have everyone within the commitment circle at the beginning of the program. There are however, at least two options available for the case where some participants are not yet there. First, you can thank the group for their input, and offer to     revisit the team commitment later in the program (perhaps at the midpoint, and again at the end). Or you can discuss the level of commitment within the team, and request that in order to “begin” the event, you’ll need to have everyone in contact with the Raccoon “commitment” Circle (either   inside or outside). This, you can explain, is not a full commitment for anything that happens, but rather a commitment to begin the process of working as a team. If this second option is chosen,  revisit the team commitment as the program continues (after a few more activities).

The purpose of Outside In, is to provide a visual check of the commitment level of the entire group, before beginning a teambuilding or adventure-based learning program. The location of participants will give the facilitator an indication of the commitment level of the group, to each other, and to the program itself.

Variations: As an alternate approach to Outside In, the facilitator can place three Raccoon Circles ( for example, a red, green and blue Raccoon Circle) on the ground, and ask participants to join one of the three circles. The red     Raccoon “commitment” Circle signifies that the participants are ready to fully commitment to the group and the team events that are about to begin. The green Raccoon “commitment” Circle signifies that the participants are willing to try, but will need some assistance and support from the group to be successful. The blue Raccoon “commitment” Circle signifies that the participants are basically willing to begin the process, but may have questions, concerns or comments that they would like to make before continuing.

A final variation of this alternate approach to Outside In, is to use three different sizes of  Raccoon Circles to form a “target” on the ground. Where the inner circle represents the highest level of commitment (bullseye), the middle circle represents a medium level of commitment, and the outer circle represents the minimum level of commitment necessary to begin the program,        presentation or process.

Debriefing Topics:

  • What did you learn about this group after this activity?
  • Were you surprised at anyone’s level of commitment?
  • What factors would change your commitment level?

For original write up purchase "Book of Raccoon Circles" by Cain & Smith.  

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