Materials needed include:
• One 50 foot length of rope
• 16 Ten foot sections of rope
• One 6 foot section of rope
• One coffee can
• Enough ping pong balls or reuse packing peanuts to fill the coffee can
Setting Up the Activity:
• Use the 50 foot length of rope to make a circle on the ground to represent a small pond.
• Arrange the ten foot sections of rope at equal distance around the outside of the circle.
• Fill the coffee can full of ping pong balls (or packing peanuts) and place it in the center of the circle.
• Place a small section of rope to represent a small island around the coffee can.
Your group has been called to a Cypress Swamp in the White River Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas because of your combined expertise in the field of conservation. The Department of Interior has been monitoring the last remaining nesting pair of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in the world.
Unfortunately, only a few hours ago, a tornado ripped through the area, killing the adult Ivory-bills and bringing down their nesting tree. The nest full of eggs miraculously fell on a small piece of land within the swamp. They remain undamaged, but are trapped on an island within the wetland. It is your job to rescue the remaining eggs. However, you cannot enter the water. You must use only the ropes to collectively secure the nest with all the its eggs and move them over the water to safety.
It is very important when facilitating this leadership development activity that the group starts over whenever their actions cause the balls or packing peanuts (“eggs”) to fall out of the coffee can (“nest”), or if the can touches the area between the inner rope circle and the outer rope circle (“water”). In this way, individuals are gradually made more aware that their lack of input or over-input within the group is intricately linked to the success of the group effort. As a result, quieter individuals are forced to participate, often out of frustration with the powers that be within the group. They also are forced to focus their efforts to accomplish the task.
In the summer of 2010, I used an alternative scenario of rescuing Piping Plover eggs from an island surrounded by an extremely toxic mix created by the BP Oil Spill. It provided a more convincing reason why the participants could not directly enter the water.