Alternate Activity 4: Paying Close Attention Outdoors
Activity time: 40 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Paper for drawing and writing, clipboards, and pens/pencils for all participants
- Optional: Blankets to sit on and snacks, including water
Preparation for Activity
- Identify an outdoor location where you can walk with the group and spend undisturbed time observing your natural surroundings. Obtain necessary permission from parents, your director of religious education, and/or the owners of the outdoor location you have chosen. Make sure you have enough adults for appropriate supervision; if needed, invite additional adult volunteers.
- Optional: Prepare snacks and water to bring along.
Description of Activity
Tell participants they will exercise their ability to look with close attention in the outdoors. Explain where you are going, how you will walk there and which adults are responsible for which children (and vice versa). Invite participants to choose a notebook and pen/pencil and put on appropriate outerwear. Lead the group outdoors.
At the outdoor location, gather the group. Invite participants to take a few minutes to walk around and find a spot to sit and spend some time in close observation. Ask them to leave space between themselves and others, and refrain from talking. Tell them they may draw or write their observations. Suggest it is perfectly appropriate for written observations to take the form of questions, or if a drawing begins to transform into something quite different from the original object of focus—as long as the expression is part of an effort to pay close attention.
After 10 minutes, re-gather the group. You may like to share about the experience here, or return to the indoor meeting space first. Invite participants to respond to these questions and, if they wish, to share their drawing or writing:
- Was it easy or hard to keep absolute attention on one object in this outdoor setting? Why?
- What did you observe that was surprising about the object of your focus? Did you experience anything you might call “revelation”?
- Where else did your mind go during this exercise?
- What did you learn about the nature of miracles?
Including All Participants
Make sure the route you will take and the location itself are accessible to all participants, co-leaders, and volunteers.
Non-sighted participants can pay close attention to sound, smell, and feel. A co-leader can guide and sit with a non-sighted participant. Ask the participant how they would like to record their observations.