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Activity 1: Boat Blowing Contest
Activity time: 10 minutes
Materials for Activity
- At least one large pan or tray
- Small, floating "boats" such as corks or small pieces of wood-any small, light object that will float
- Newspaper or tarp to cover floor
Preparation for Activity
- Find a table or floor space where participants can splash some water. Cover any carpet or other vulnerable surface with a tarp or newspaper.
- Fill the pan(s) with water and place on table(s) or floor.
- Place "boats" next to pan(s).
Description of Activity
Participants discover the value of working together and the difficulties in working at cross-purposes as they attempt to blow "boats" across water while others blow in different directions.
Form small, mixed-age teams of two or three. Have each group send its youngest member forward to try and propel a boat across a pan or tray of water.
Gather the team representatives around the water. Place a "boat" in the center of the water. Tell the contestants their goal is to move the boat to the opposite shore for their team. Ask them to hold their hands behind their backs and, at the word "Go!", start blowing and keep blowing until you say to stop, whether the boat temporarily reaches the shore or not.
If the contestants are of very different ages and sizes, place the oldest and largest farther away from the water than the smallest and youngest. If contestants are spaced fairly equally around the water, the boat will stay largely in the middle.
Say "Stop!" Ask what everyone noticed. Help the group to see that people working against each other cannot accomplish much. You might have all contestants come to one side of the water and blow in the same direction. They should easily be able to move the boat wherever they want it to go.
Repeat the experiment if you like, so others get a chance to try it.
Conclude by saying:
In Gather the Spirit we have talked a lot about stewardship and social action. Let's also think about community action. We can often accomplish more by joining in community with others than we can alone. We just need to make sure we are all blowing in the same direction-working together, toward a shared goal.
Including All Participants
Participants with mobility or respiratory issues that keep them from competing may act as judges and coaches, perhaps directing contestants how to begin working together and achieve a given goal.
Anybody with a cold or another airborne illness should step back and be a cheerleader for their team.