April 7, 2002 / Spring 2002 / Staff Management

The Staff that Plays Together Stays Together

Written by Idea File Staff

Advisers Use Obstacle Course to have Fun and Foster Staff Unit
Yearbook advisers Victor Cheng, Bartlett High School, Bartlett, Ill. and Jessica Battle, Wheaton Warrenville South High School, Wheaton, Ill., found a way for their staffs to let off some steam and learn a lesson or two in communicating and working together.

Both advisers took their students to the Lincoln Marsh Teams and Ropes Course, a local outdoor obstacle course.

The course provides a series of cooperative activities for groups of eight to 15 participants that engage the physical, cognitive and social resources of participants. The activities are intended to represent the kind of problem solving issues that arise in the work, school or community environment, and are designed to foster interdependence.

“I took my staff to Lincoln Marsh to bring them closer together as a team,” Battle said.

“The challenges they were faced with (such as successfully scaling a large wall) could not be solved by an individual — successful solutions required the collective effort of the group.”

Battle said her students were forced to work together, which helped them learn how to communicate with each other.

Cheng’s students felt their time at Lincoln Marsh was more of a fun, bonding type of experience. “We chose to go to Lincoln Marsh to work on our team building skills,” Cheng explained.

“We did trust falls, and had to help each other across different obstacles: two wires in a “V” shape, two pedestals with only two planks in between, balancing a giant beam, etc.”

While Cheng’s students definitely got a dose of teamwork, Cheng believes they got more out of the activity in terms of simply having fun.

“It was difficult for the students to transfer the activities to a meaningful partnership in class right away. Heck, it is difficult for adults to do the same,” Cheng observed, “but the kids definitely had fun and bonded through the sharing of similar experiences.”

Both advisers feel visiting the course was valuable to their staffs, and plan to return next year to tackle new obstacles, both outside, and inside, the classroom.

Idea File Staff

Idea File Staff reports are posts compiled by the Walsworth Yearbooks Marketing Department, covering a wide range of yearbook topics.