The Equi-Distance Game

While lecture and discussion is probably the most efficient way to deliver information, a fun game can lead to powerful incites that can be transferred into practical applications.

#GivingTuesday is just two weeks away and to kick off our end of year giving I wanted to share one of my favorite games. The Equi-Distance Game encourages groups to consider how our actions influence others decisions both directly and indirectly. Check out the activity write up below, then read on to learn how I draw connections to the theme of green behavior change.

The Equi-Distance Game: Instructions

Setup:

Simple, All you need is a large area for the group to move around freely.

Introduction:

Define the term equal distant. In this game, participants will be moving around to place themselves an equal distance between two other participants.

equidistance
[ ee-kwi-dis-tuh ns, ek-wi- ]
noun
equal distance.

https://www.dictionary.com/

Set the Rules:

I don’t like to give participants too much information because part of the beauty of challenge activities is the progression of awareness that happens throughout the experience. Keep instructions clear, simple and brief to only give participants what they need and to encourage critical thinking and problem solving skills to think outside the box.

  1. Instruct your group that without telling anyone, they are going to choose two people in the group.
  2. Explain that for this game the objective is to move to a position that is equal distant from the two people they chose.
  3. Demonstrate by choosing two volunteers to show what being equal distant between them looks like.
  4. This could be a straight line or a triangle.
  5. Confirm that everyone has selected their two people.
  6. Go!

The Experience:

Can you guess what will ensue as the activity moves forward?

Each participant is focused on placing themselves in the correct position as others focus on moving to get into their position. The ideal is that a little bit of chaos ensues as participants begin to move around to position themselves accordingly. This is a system chaos. Can the group find an equilibrium? As there “trouble makers” in the group sabotaging the success of finding an equilibrium?

Take mental, or written, notes on what participants say and how they respond throughout the challenge. These observations can be very helpful in processing the experience.

I’ve played this game with groups as small as 6 and up to 200. With larger groups, they may not find an “equilibrium” right away, but that’s okay. You can pause the group at any point to touch base to discuss what’s going on and ask if they think it’s possible to reach an equilibrium (when everyone is in a place that’s equal distant from the two people they chose). You may choose to end the activity before this happens which can lead to another discussion about why it’s so hard to find an equilibrium in some systems due to so many factors constantly changing.

Processing the Experience

Processing is the guided art of reflection that leads to a transference of learning and is the most challenging part of facilitation. There are some great tools to support this process I like to use the experiential learning cycle as a general guide to lead debriefs.

The Experience:

The experience is the game or activity that engages the group to work through a challenge. This evokes collaboration, competition, critical thinking, problem solving and all the other great outcomes that result from a good challenge.

Reflection/Observation

This part of the debrief is an opportunity to ask the group, “What Happened” and encourages participants to reflect on their experience. You can get an array of responses to learn what resonated with folks and set you up to dig deeper in the next step of the experiencial learning cycle.

When connecting this activity to sustainability I like to focus on who was influencing who’s actions. The mission of Green Camps is to model sustainability to influence green behavior change. The simple act of picking up trash can influence others to do the same. One of my peers at my camp would pick up trash everywhere she went. Every time I see trash or see someone picking up trash I think of her and either pick it up or thank the person for modeling that behavior.

Sample Reflection Questions:

  • What Happened?
  • What was the goal of this activity?
  • Who was influencing your actions?
  • Who’s actions were you influencing?
  • What was challenging about trying to position yourself an equal distance between the two people you chose?

Abstract/Conceptualization

The next part of the experiential learning cycle focuses on the “So What” of what happened. As a facilitator it’s your job to push the conversation back to the participants. Phrases like, “tell me more” or “what did that look like” get the participants to expand upon their thoughts and dig deeper into the abstract ideas the activity can lead to.

Sample Processing Questions:

  • Tell me more
  • What did that look/sound like?
  • What did you discover as being your greatest strengths? Your biggest weaknesses?
  • What would you say is the most important thing you learned personally? As a team?
  • How did your strategy change throughout the activity?
  • What would you do differently if you were to approach the same problem again?

Practical/Application

This part of the cycle asks, “Now What?” Pulling from the experience, reflection and processing stages of the cycle we can take the lessons learned through the activity and apply them to other areas of our life. Through well worded questions and good facilitation skills, participants can walk away thinking about how their experience applies to them individually and in the groups they are apart of.

This is the core of experiential learning as it can lead to lessons that can have a huge impact on the attitudes and actions of participants. What a powerful lesson to walk away better understanding our ability to directly and indirectly influence others. Being more self aware of this can help to create positive outcomes in our everyday experiences.

Sample Transference Questions:

  • How will you use what you’ve learned in the future?
  • How can your actions positively impact those around you?
  • How can you connect what you learned/experience to the principles of sustainability?
  • What are the long term impacts of modeling green behaviors?

Wrapping Up

I’ll reiterate again that this is probably one of my favorite team building activities because it gets participants moving, thinking, laughing and frustrated. More importantly it leads to some great observations and opportunities for reflecting on the idea of influence and behavior change.

I generally use this activity as an introduction to a sustainability lesson or training to get folks up and moving and engaged with the opportunities they have to model and influence sustainable action. I hope you’ll give this a try with your group. Please feel free to reach out with questions and also to let us know how it goes.

With #GivingTuesday just two weeks away I thought there was another great connection I could make about the influence of our actions. Everyday non profit organizations are working hard to tackle social and environmental issues facing our society and planet. Their actions influence the kind of world we want our children to live, work and play in.

This #GivingTuesday I encourage everyone to find a cause they believe in to support with a donation of their time, money or advocacy for the cause. Green Camps uses experiential learning like the equidistance game to inspire green behavior change. We also help camps around the country to help implement engaging and practical examples of sustainable solutions to model what sustainability means and looks like. If this sounds like a cause you would like to support please consider making a donation to Green Camps this #GivingTuesday.

To help make your donation go even further, we’ve received a $2500 matching gift challenge that will double your gift.

Learn more by visiting our campaign page www.greencamps.org/givingtuesday

For more updates follow us on social media @gogreencamps