Raccoon Circle Trust Activities
Type of Activity: Trust
Props Needed: A piece of webbing 15 feet long
Set Up: There are about 15 different activities that you can do with your Raccoon Circle. Here are 5 of them.
The ability to tie a Water Knot is essential for the safety of this activity. All activities described below require that the webbing be tied with a water knot. Each 15 foot piece of webbing has a capacity of about 12 people.
TRUST CIRCLE: This is the beginning experience with the Raccoon Circle. Standing in a circle, all members of the group hold onto the web loop with both hands. By moving the feet slightly to the center of the circle and leaning back, a circle of trust is formed. (self-trust, trust in the webbing, trust in others). This is the basic connection to the Raccoon Circle and to others in the group. Balance and stillness are the goals of the basic trust circle.
THE WAVE: As a simple stretching exercise, have the members of the groups each hold the Raccoon Circle with their hands and feet approximately shoulders width apart (for balance) in a standing position. Next, have one person bend their knees and sit, while keeping their hands in contact with the Raccoon Circle. As they begin to sit, the next person to their right (counterclockwise) should begin to sit. As this sitting “wave” is passed around the circle, each person to the right continues to sit.
When the sitting wave has reached the opposite side from the original person (person #1), person #1 stands, and the standing portion of the wave passes to the right. When the entire group is in motion, a balanced wave exists, and participants can stretch and move in a well connected flow.
Essentially, folks need to watch the person on their left, and when that person begins to sit or stand, they should be ready to do the same. Do not rush this activity. The objective is to stretch slowly and keep some balance within the group.
THAT’S ENOUGH: This is a very high risk activity, and facilitators should be attentive to safety instructions and provide close supervision. It should not be offered unless the group has developed sufficiently to accomplish the task safely. The task is a variation of trust leaning, with the group supporting on person who stretches the web loop across the chest and leans forward from standing. The group holds the Raccoon Circle, and must be careful to be positioned for maximum and safe support. As the person leans forward, the group must re-position forward so that the webbing support stays perpendicular to the body of the leaner. A spotter should be positioned out front. The amount of lean is determined by the person leaning. They can tell the group, "That's enough." at any point, and then be raised to the standing position. The goal is to lean over completely and touch nose to the ground, but a person's discomfort may result in a "that's enough" at any point in the journey. The lowering and raising process should be a slow and controlled action.
TRUST LIFT: As part of a complete trust sequence, the trust lift can be a very profound ending activity, without the need for a trust fall, trust dive, or some other higher adventure trust event. The trust lift, bird lofting, reaching for the sky, etc. basically involves the members of a group carefully and safely lifting a member of their team. While this can be done with hands only, some participants prefer the Raccoon Circle approach, because it does not involve contact with all parts of the participants body. While the explanation below describes the use of a Raccoon Circle for the Trust Lift, additional facilitator intervention is necessary for a safe and successful trust sequence. Be careful, and use appropriate spotting techniques. Begin by creating a double hourglass shape with a Raccoon Circle (see below):
This shape forms the “cradle” or “litter” that will be used to lift the person. It also provides comfortable handholds, and a comfortable and supportive cradle for the person being lifted. After lifting the participant, the cradle can be gently rocked back and forth for a very relaxing experience.
TEAM BALANCE: This activity works for both small groups (using a single Raccoon Circle) and for incredibly large groups (by using multiple water knots to tie several Raccoon Circles together). Begin with the group holding the Raccoon Circle with both hands about a shoulder’s width apart, and standing with their feet also about a shoulder’s width apart. Next have the group pull the Raccoon Circle gently to form a complete circle, with some tension in the Raccoon Circle. Now by leaning outward from the circle (a small amount), the group should be able to balance the circle, and keep each other safely leaning outward. This is the first level of unity, calmness and balance. For level two, ask participants to keep holding the Raccoon Circle, but to bend their knees, and slowly and gently sit down, and then come back to a full standing, but still leaning position. This motion is appropriate for those individuals whose knees allow for this type of motion, without giving out! We have discovered that the number of knee “clicks” increases with the age of the group (light group laughter here!). The next level, level three, is for the group to close their eyes, and balance down and up twice, while the facilitator gives the commands. Finally, the level four challenge is for the group to balance down and up twice, but this time with their eyes closed, and with no one talking. Calm music playing in the background is nice for this activity. It can also be performed as a closing ceremony using some of the music suggested in the last activity of this publication. This activity is also at the ideal height for both standing and seated participants to work together, since both can hold the Raccoon Circle at about 3 feet off the ground.
- What did it feel like to be lifted by the group?
- What feelings did you experience?
- How did it feel to be responsible for someone else’s safety?
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