Last week many of our authors presented at the annual Association for Experiential Education conference. Chris Cavert shared activities from his newest book with Steven Simpson: The Chiji Guide, Laurie Frank presented “More than Being Active”, Jennifer Stanchfield presented “The Art of Experiential Group Facilitation and Teaching”, Maurie Lung presented “Is there an App for That?”, Tony Alvarez presented on Culture and Adventure. There were many great workshops, co-creation and innovation throughout the conference time.
Justin McGlamery and Mike Gessford two or our WNB authors co-facilitated a workshop that highlighted many activities from their book Focus Your Locus. Justin shared his experiences with his creative and enthusiastic group and the variations and insights that developed from their workshop session:
“Having just returned, and not yet fully recovered, from this year’s 38th Annual International Conference of the Association for Experiential Education, I, Justin, am still basking in the afterglow of what may have been my favorite Focus Your Locus workshop so far. Mike and I presented in the very first workshop time-slot of the conference, and we were both feeling like this one was going to be special. We remained open to the possibilities and launched into our workshop, excited to share and to learn and co-create with our twenty-four attendees who varied in age, gender, and nationality.
“Of the many great things that came out of our Focus Your Locus workshop, including new friendships and connections, the two things that stand out the most are learning about new variations for activities that we use:
“• The first is a combination of two activities; The Energy Ball (page 19 of Focus Your Locus) and The Washer Pendulum (page 53). The Energy Ball illustrates how we are all connected and how we all both create and conduct energy. The Washer Pendulum teaches “Quiet Watching” to induce or enhance individual focus. The Washer Pendulum activity begins as an individual activity, and then we invite people to find a partner and place the string between their heads, combining their energies and foci to move the washer together.
“(Now, this is what I love about AEE conferences; the collective experience and enthusiasm and willingness to share ideas leads to the creation of new thoughts and ideas, taking things to the next level.) Participants then began getting into triads and foursomes, placing the string between all of their fingertips and successfully moving the washer. After seeing this, Jude Hirsch, Ed.D, 2010 Kurt Hahn Co-Presenter, suggested that we combine The Energy Ball and The Washer Pendulum by getting back into one big circle, placing each of the washers between the index fingers of the people in the circle, getting the washers to pendulum in and out of the center of the circle. Once the connections were all made around the circle, we added The Energy Ball to enhance the illustration of our connections… A powerful illustration indeed! The collective energy in the room was electric.
“• The next variation came during a rhythmic activity that begins as an individual focusing activity and progresses into a group focuser, The Pringles Stomp (page 65 of Focus Your Locus). Usually, in a group this size, we have one group of active participants, while the rest circle up and learn by watching. Jude suggested that we swap Group A, giving Group B a turn—the caveat… while staying within the rhythm of the activity!
“After Group A learned the rhythm and had some success passing the cans, Group B, who had already learned some simply by watching and listening, had a quick lesson and a few successful attempts at passing.
“We then decided that Group B would begin and after successfully completing three of the rhythmic passing sequences, would switch places with Group A.
“On the third rhythmic sequence, Group A began simply clapping the rhythm while Group B played and passed the cans.
“The fourth rhythmic sequence had both Groups A & B only clapping the rhythm while they switched places. Group A took their places in the seats around the table, picking up where Group B left off on the rhythm with the cans for the beginning of the fifth rhythmic sequence, while Group B simply clapped for the remainder of the activity.
“This led to the ‘I Love Lucy’ phenomenon, the piling up of cans on one person, who happened to be right next to me. As always, making lemonade from lemons, the culmination became the creation of the tallest tower of cans we could make while staying in the rhythm of them being passed, until the tower fell, cans flying everywhere, and the whole group erupting in laughter, cheers, high fives, hugs, and applause. It was amazing! The points on our Focus Cycle (page 137), came into full focus throughout the workshop and everyone, especially Mike and I, had a fantastic experience.”