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Step Three: Affirming

The act of encouraging each other through affirmation is crucial to the growing process of a group. Participants in affirming interactions leave the feeling warm and fuzzy about the group and themselves. The point of these games are to make everyone feel great. The games below are especially successful when played in the context of worship. A group must have been through the process of bonding and opening up in order to appreciate worship, and affirmation games can give them the opportunity to reflect on how much they care about each other now.

This feeling is especially crucial at this stage of the community building process Opening up can be hard for many youth, unaccustomed to the free and loving environment of YRUU (Young Religious Unitarian Universalists). But affirmation is equally important for later stages of community building, and is especially needed after deeper sharing. Many of these games are appropriate or could be modified for a post Deeper Sharing reflection. After Opening Up, people need positive feedback before they will consider sharing further. These games are organized into a sequence form least to most intense. They are all highly appropriate for worship.

Mailbags

Parameters: 15 to infinity!

Materials: Paper lunch bags, arts and crafts supplies, masking tape

Set up a table with these materials. Encourage people to make themselves a mailbag, decorating it with their names and representations of themselves. Have wall-space available for the bags to be taped up, within reach. Encourage people to fill one-another’s mailbags with messages of love and affirmation, presents, poems, cookies.

Bedtime Story

Parameters: 15 to 60 people

Materials: Children’s story, snacks, pj’s for all.

Invite everyone to a late night story-reading. Encourage them to wear their pajamas and to bring stuffed animals and blankets. Arrange pillows in a circle on the floor. Pick a new or familiar children’s story to read (other short stories are great, too), and pass around the book so that others have a chance to read. Make sure everyone can see the pictures! Close by singing a lullaby and passing out cookies and milk.

The Interconnected Web

Parameters: 15 to 60 people

Materials: A large ball of yarn, scissors.

Have the group stand in a circle. The person holding the ball of yarn begins by choosing someone across the circle to affirm. They say something they love about someone else and throw throw the ball, while holding on to the end of the yarn. That person catches it and chooses a new person. The process continues until everyone is holding onto part of the web. Have the group raise the web above their heads to see how neat it is. Pass around scissors so that everyone can cut a piece of the web to keep as a memento of the community, or find a place to hang up the web.

Variation: When someone catches the ball of yarn they say a word that describes what they bring to the community.

Fame Tags

Parameters: 5 to 60 people

Materials: Index cards, markers for all, a hole-puncher and yarn.

Pass out the cards and markers, and tell the group to write their names on the cards. For each letter in their names, have them identify a positive ability or quality they posses that others remember them by, for which they are “famous.” Record all these words on the cards. Pass around the hole-puncher and yarn so that they can make name-tags of their cards and wear them.

Variation: Make Super Hero tags. Have each person identify the special quality that they bring to the group and make a Super Hero title out of it, i.e. “Jen, Energizer, Battling the Powers of Complacency,” or “Marc, Smooth-Talker, with Incredible Force-field of Sunshine.”

Affirmation Tag

Parameters: 40 to 60 people

Tell the group to spread out in the space. Designate one person to be “it”. “It” chases the other players around the space. When they catche one of group members, everyone else must freeze while the “It” person describes something they love about the person they have caught. Then the affirmed person becomes “it” and chases after someone else. The object of this game is for everyone to get tagged.

Right On!

Parameters: 15 to 60 people

Break the group into smaller groups of four or five each. Then have them come up with a positive cheer, noise or movement for their group. Let each member of the group share an experience in which they had a positive effect on the situation, and have the rest of the group respond with their cheer. When the groups are finished, gather in a circle and sing an uplifting song or chant, ending with every group simultaneously doing their respective cheers.

Love Feast

(Love Feasts have the potential for both great positive and negative outcomes. Taking part in Love Feasts can be a very intimate act, and participants may feel uncomfortable or unsafe feeding others or being fed. Adult advisors, for example, set boundaries between themselves and youth to ensure a safe community. There may also be survivors of sexual violence and other traumas in our communities, and it is important for them and all participants to feel safe and comfortable. An important and valuable option for Love Feasts that has worked in the past is to have participants feed themselves. This is accountable to people who may not feel comfortable feeding or being fed by another person. Make sure you talk to advisors ahead of time and check their comfort levels with feeding or being fed by youth.)

Parameters: 15 to 60 people and a room or space that it is OK to mess up, and that can be closed off to the group while you prepare.

Materials: Honey, cheese and chocolate fondue; fruit, bread, vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces, any other appropriate foods you can think of, candles, a boom box, and a table.

Set the food up on the table, light the candles, put on some soft, mellow music. Make sure the room has a soothing ambiance. Gather the group outside the room, or in a space away from the table. Explain the guidelines for a Love Feast: Remain silent; respect another’s right to refuse an offered piece of food by holding a hand over their mouth. Lead them into the space and set them loose (Note: Love Feasts often result in food-fights. You can dissuade this from happening by making a covenant with the group before-hand, or let it happen if there is a source of water nearby)

Making It Real

Parameters: 15 to 40 people

Have the group lie on the floor. Lead a guided meditation, in which everyone discovers their most positive attribute and their greatest strengths. Transition into a moving meditation, in which each person involves their whole body in acting out their greatest strength.

Car Wash

Parameters: 15 to 60 people

Materials: Paper, markers, masking tape, boom box

This is great activity for the end of a weekend conference or event. Pass out the paper and markers until everyone has one of each, then pass around the tape. Have everyone tape the papers on one another’s backs. Then, stand and walk around the room, writing positive things about each person on their backs. Play some instrumental music. Variation: (Parameters: 5 to 15 people)

Sit in a circle. Have each person write their name on the top of both sides of their paper and fold it in half. On the surfaces showing, they can write positive adjectives or statements describing themselves. Tell them to refold the paper so that their adjectives are hidden, and pass their papers around so that everyone can write positive adjectives on the other side. Continue passing until all papers arrive at their owners.

Massage

(Massages can have positive or negative results. Taking part can be a very intimate act, and participants may feel uncomfortable or unsafe feeding others or being touched. Adult advisors, for example, set boundaries between themselves and youth to ensure a safe community. There may also be survivors of sexual violence and other traumas in our communities, and it is important for them and all participants to feel safe and comfortable. Youth participating need to be clear about which body parts are okay and which are off-limits.)

Parameters: Perfect for a group from two to infinity!

Form a seated circle. Play some soothing music on a boom box so that everyone can take part. Ask the group to turn to their right and begin to massage the shoulders of the person in front of them. Remind them to turn and face the other direction when the song changes. Ask them to meditate on happy memories or on the love they feel for the group.

Variation: Sometimes people are more comfortable working in pairs, because they can devote their attention to either giving or receiving. Pair up and massage one another’s heads, hands, feet, or shoulders.

Variation: Ask a massage therapist to lead a workshop on massage techniques before you do this activity.

Carousel

Parameters: 15 to 40 people

Break the group into two equal groups and have them form two circles, one inside the other. Those on the inside circle close their eyes and wait while those in the outside circle think of a compliment they have always wanted someone to say to them. Then the outside circle slowly rotates around the inner, whispering these compliments in each person’s ears. When they have gone all the way around, let the silence settle and the inner circle can slowly open their eyes. Let those on the outer and inner circles switch places and repeat the process.

Potter’s Wheel

(Remember anyone can opt out if they don’t feel comfortable. Make sure you make this clear.)

Parameters: 15 to 60 people

Have everyone sit in a circle and invite one person to sit in the middle. their closes her eyes and remains quiet. Those in the circle, whenever they feel moved to speak, may say why they appreciate and love the person in the middle. When the spoken affirmations cease, the person in the middle opens their eyes and picks their replacement. Continue until everyone has had a chance.

Foot Washing

Parameters: 5 to 60 people

(Remember anyone can opt out if they don’t feel comfortable. Make sure you make this clear. Read the above cautions for both Love Feasts and Massages before going ahead with this activity.)

Materials: Tubs filled with warm and soapy or scented water, sponges, towels, massage oil, candles, pillows.

This activity is a classic from the biblical days and was adopted by LRY (Liberal Religious Youth). Improvise and make it your own. Establish the atmosphere by lighting candles and setting up in advance. Pair up and wash one another’s feet slowly and carefully. Finish up with foot massage, then invite everyone to put their clean, happy feet in the middle and wiggle their toes.

Sensorium

Parameters: 5 to 15 people

(Remember anyone can opt out if they don’t feel comfortable. Make sure you make this clear. Read the above cautions for both Love Feasts and Massages before going ahead with this activity.)

Materials: Lovely stuff for the senses: incense, live or recorded music, food.

The group chooses one person to receive the loving attention of the others. They lie down in the middle and closes her eyes. The rest of the group appeals to all of their senses to make them feel loved, by lighting incense, playing soft music, giving her something yummy to taste, and massaging their hands, feet, head. After a period of time, they rise, and the next member takes a turn.

Angel Wash Variations

Parameters: 15 to 60 people

(Remember anyone can opt out if they don’t feel comfortable.)

Form two lines facing each other. Have one person from the end of the line (or two people holding hands) close their eyes and place their arms crossed on their chest. Direct them to proceed down the aisle of the double line with their eyes closed. As they pass, each person washes their aura with their hands, passing their fingers and hands lightly over their body, from the crown of their head to the ground, without actually touching them. If the person should stray, the people in the lines can gently direct them back on course. When they reach the end, their friends can communicate to them, with touch, that its time to open their eyes. Continue until everyone has had a chance.

Variation: With a larger group, form two circles, the inside and outside facing each other.

Variation: Replace the aura wash with hugs or other forms of loving touch.

Variation: Replace the aura wash with whispered words of affirmation, emphasizing the fact that the group can express specific things they appreciate about the person that they might be afraid to express if their eyes were open.

Vision

Parameters: 15 to 60 people

(Remember anyone can opt out if they don’t feel comfortable.)

Play soft music or have silence. Stand and form a circle with the group, holding hands. Then flatten the circle into two lines facing one another, about a yard apart. Make certain that everyone has another directly opposite them. Have each person hold steady eye contact with the person opposite them. When the group is ready, everyone can take a step to the right and silently look into the eyes of the next person in line. If you have an odd number of people, everyone will have a chance to gaze down the two rows of profiles when they reach the end of the line. Continue until all have returned to their original partners.

For more information contact youth@uua.org.

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Last updated on Monday, December 17, 2012.

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