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Step Five: Deeper Sharing and Goal Sharing

At this stage, structured activities are not as necessary. The group will have the confidence and communication skills to come up with their own activities.They are probably comfortable just hanging out. However, a few of the opening up activities, as well as the ones below, can help allow space for the kind of sharing this group is capable of. At this stage, individuals share deeply with one another and set goals.The youth group becomes a setting where young people can express their visions of the future and present struggles.A group at this stage will inevitably probe deeply into any set of questions they are given for discussion.

When a group member shares a problem, the rest of the group gives support and encouragement by expressing sympathy. If the topics for discussion or activity seem to have the potential for painful memories or personal facts to come up, it is a good idea to set some ground rules before-hand.Ask the group what rules would make them feel most comfortable with sharing, but be sure to include the following:

  1. No information shared in the room leaves the room, unless someone’s safety is at risk.
     
  2. Responses to sharing are affirming and loving, not critical.
     
  3. Everyone has the right to pass.

Hand Grok

Parameters: 14 to 40 people (an even number excluding yourself)

Have the group spread out around the room and close their eyes.Pair people up by leading them by the hand across the room to the partner you have chosen for them, while everyone’s eyes remain closed. Pair people that know one another in the context of the group, but may never have had the chance to bond on a personal level.Tell the partners to sit and spend time holding one another’s hands. Ask them to communicate with one another in silence, through touch alone.  Let this process continue forten minutes or longer.  Then have the group members open their eyes and talk to one another about what they learned about one another through the exercise.

What are you afraid of?

Parameters: 15 to 60 people

Ask the group to sit in a circle and light a chalice.Pose this question into the silence: “What are you afraid of?” and invite the group members to respond whenever they feel moved to speak.

Variation: Break the group into pairs.Have one partner ask the other, “What are you afraid of?”The other answers and the first affirms the answer by saying “Thank you.”  Then the roles reverse.

Love/Hate

Parameters: 15 to 60 people

Ask the group to sit in a circle and light a chalice. Establish a premise of confidentiality for the conversation.  Pose two questions into the silence: “What do you love?,” and “What do you hate?”  Encourage people to respond to either or both of the questions whenever they feel moved to speak.  When the sharing comes to a close, initiate a conversation about love and hate.

Guess Who?

Parameters:  5 to 15 people

Materials: Paper and pencils for all

Arrange the group in a circle.  Pass out the paper and pencils.  Give everyone five minutes to write on a predetermined topic (recent dreams, childhood, a day in my life).  Gather the papers and pass them back out.  Go around the circle and read the papers, guessing who wrote them.  Then go around again and reveal the true authors.

10 Fingers

Parameters:  5 to 15 people

Another great one for van rides, with a group that knows each other well.

Everyone holds up ten fingers.  Each person gets a turn to say something that they have never done. For example, “I have never been to California.”  Everyone in the group who has been to California must fold one finger down.The first person to have allten fingers folded into fists loses (or wins) the game.

This game can rapidly degenerate into a competition to be the most daring, experienced person in the room, unless everyone is very conscious of what they are saying, and how it might affect the other players.  Try to lead the conversation away form sexual and drug-related exploits if it makes people uncomfortable.

Up in Smoke

(Before doing this activity make sure no one will have medical problems with smoke and find out about the fire detectors. Many church carpets have been singed and some have even caught on fire in the past. Be cautious with this activity and take as many factors as possible into account.)

Parameters:  5 to 60 people

Materials: Small slips of paper, pens, a baking sheet (to set the chalice and bowl on), a chalice, and a non-wooden bowl.

Lead a meditation that gets everyone thinking about the qualities of their personality they consider negative.  Distribute the paper and pens and have everyone write one quality, habit, or situation that they want to be burned clean of in the future.  Let members of the group come into the center as they feel moved to, and share the meaning behind the words on their paper, then light it from the chalice flame and drop it into the bowl.

Variation: Put the slips of paper in a bowl of water

Tell All

Parameters:  5 to 15 people

Materials:  A bag of treats

Pass around the bag saying, “Take only a few, and don’t eat them yet” Once everyone has their treats, announce that they have to tell one thing about themselves for every treat they took.

Variation: “TP shortage.” Announce that the conference or event you are attending is having a toilet paper shortage.  Pass around a roll and tell everyone to take all they will need for the rest of the conference. Then tell them they have to tell one thing about themselves for every square of toilet paper they took.

Lottery Questions

Parameters: 15 to 60 people

Materials: Paper, pencils

Pass out slips of paper and pencils to all.  Have everyone write down a question for the entire group.  Ensure that questions fall into the intensity level that is right for the group.  Pass around a hat to collect the questions, then pull questions out at random and have the individuals respond.

Life Line

Parameters:  5 to 15 people

Materials:  Paper, pencils

Have each person draw a vertical line down the middle of their page. At the bottom of the line write “0” and your birth date, at the top write the age you expect to live to, and a date that many years in the future. On the line indicate the age you are now and what you’re doing now. Write in what you would like to be doing five years from now, ten years from now.  Group members can share goals and discuss one other’s hopes for the future.  You may want to talk about what problems are blocking their achievement, and let the group help each other come up with solutions.

Variation: Make the time lines only from birth to the present.  Have each person remember pivotal moments in their lives and mark them on the lines.

Recent Dreams

Parameters: 15 to 60 people

Materials: Paper, pencils

Ask the group to remember their most recent dream (a guided meditation might bring them to the right state of mind).  Have them either draw or write whatever images or feelings they remember from their dream in a stream-of-consciousness style.  Then have each member share parts or all of his creation.

Back To Back

Parameters: 14 to 40

Materials: Paper, crayons

Let the group choose an interesting issue or subject for a conversation. Break the group into pairs and let them find an isolated space for themselves. Tell them to sit back-to-back with their partner, and take turns talking—saying whatever comes to their mind on the subject—for two minutes each.

Variation: While one person describes their favorite place in the world or in their imagination, the other person draws what they are hearing on the paper. Come back to the group and talk about this conversation.

Variation: Give both partners paper and crayons.  Concentrate on drawing the same picture without looking.  Compare drawings after a time.

God in the Dark

Parameters: 15 to 40 people and an outside space at night or an inside space that can be made dark.

In a darkened space, have the group lie on the floor facing up.Ask the group to pose anonymous questions to the ceiling.  Heavy philosophical questions are good, as are more personal ones.  Here are some good ones:

Suppose you have a magic box.  It can be any size or shape. In it can be anything you want that would make you happy. What is in your box?

Suppose a doctor had just told you that you have only one year left to live. What would you do differently? How would you change your life?

Let the answers come from anyone who feels moved to speak.

Geography of the Self

Parameters:  5 to 15 people and room to spread out.

Materials:  Butcher paper and markers

Break the group into pairs and have partners trace one another’s bodies on their sheets of butcher paper.  Then have each person work separately to turn their body into a map.  Pose some questions: Where are the boundaries of your body? Where are the populated areas? Your depressed inner cities? Your deserts? Your rivers? Your mountains ranges? Cliffs? Jungles? Which territories are at war with each other? Where are your main roads? Where are your uncharted lands? Your frontiers? Give each person a chance to share their map or display them around the room.

Emoticards

Parameters:  5 to 60 people

Materials:  Enough index cards and pencils for everyone

Pass out the cards and writing implements.  Tell everyone to write down an emotion (not necessarily one they are currently feeling).Encourage them to be specific, and to use whatever word occurs to them, even if it is not traditionally the name of an emotion.  Distrust, joy, befuddlement, impossible, excitement, destroy, lavender, bubble—all of these words are fine.

Collect the cards and deposit them in the middle of the circle. Play some soft music and invite everyone to go to find a card that describes how they are feeling right now. Once all the cards are claimed, invite a few or all members of the group to share their emotions and explain why they chose them

Fishbowl

Parameters: 30 to 60 people

Materials: Six to eight index cards and two pencils

Break the group into two or three subgroups who have something in common with each other.  For example: Adults/Youth, male/female/transgender; bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, queer, or questioning (BGLTQQ)/straight; etc. Have the two groups meet separately and come up with three to four questions for the other group.  Reconvene and exchange cards.  Form two circles, one subgroup inside the other, both facing in.  Have the inside group read a question and have a discussion about it.  The outside circle cannot speak, only listen.Go through each question, making sure everyone in the inner circle has a chance to speak.  Then reverse circles.

For more information contact youth@uua.org.

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Last updated on Monday, December 17, 2012.

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