Be an active spotter at all times, ie this is generally regarded as a self-spotting exercise.
Offer support to all group members both physically (spotting) and emotionally (supporting and contributing.)
Agree not to pile themselves on top of one another.
Be aware of the strength and body size of all group members, and agree not to have members lifting, supporting, or being supported in a manner in which they are not comfortable.
Practical Leadership Tips
If you can not find or build a wooden platform as described, a large carpet tile or sheet of thick card will suffice. The footprint of such alternatives are adequate but they lack the elevation a wooden platform provides to clearly show if and when a person is or is not touching the ground.
Clearly, the more people who attempt to get on the platform, the more challenging the exercise becomes. A common strategy is to carry people on the back or shoulders of other people. This is an acceptable strategy but you must first assess your group’s physical abilities and spotting skills as appropriate.
There is a slight chance that some people may topple off the platform. To this end, be sure to clear the area of all obstructions at least 3 metres around the platform.
In case it’s not obvious, do not allow group members to lie down or pile up on top of each other, otherwise, this will quickly lead to an excessive amount of weight on those poor souls on the bottom.
It should also be very obvious why it’s called “ALL ABOARD…”
You could integrate All Aboard into a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to solve problems, work collaboratively and demonstrate care and respect for others.
Specifically, this activity offers ample opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Setting Personal & Group Goals
Use Planning & Organisational Skills
Taking Other’s Perspectives
Demonstrating Empathy & Compassion
Recognising Strengths In Others
Communicate & Listen Effectively
Seeking and/or Offering Support
Resolving Conflict Constructively
Demonstrating Curiosity & Open-Mindedness
Making Reasoned Judgements
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
For some groups and individuals, successfully completing this task will test their patience and resilience to bounce from multiple failed attempts. This is more likely to occur in circumstances in which the group is much larger than the platform can reasonably accommodate. Look for opportunities to explore the following questions:
How many attempts did it take your group to complete the task?
How did it feel to keep trying?
Did you want to give up? Why or why not?
What helped you to persevere? Was this easy?
As with all group team-building group initiatives, All Aboard is an excellent vehicle for exploring and developing Full Value behavioural norms. Consider framing your group’s experience in advance to help them reflect on topics such adaptability, leadership, and accountability at the conclusion of the task. For example, individual team members will have different opinions about what constitutes success and failure. While your debrief may relate directly to the challenge at hand, the group will really benefit if you help them connect this understanding to other areas of the group’s performance, not to mention, their personal lives.
Non-Verbal: Complete the entire task without verbal forms of communication.
One Foot: Challenge your group to find a solution that involves every person with one foot touching the platform at the same time.
Train Stations: Divide your group into 3 or 4 smaller teams. Challenge your group to solve the problem of supporting a series of small teams joining the platform over the period of 30 seconds, ie each small team alights the platform 10 seconds after the previous team until all are supported.
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Useful Framing Ideas
The classic group initiative of stuffing as many people into an old telephone box or VW Beetle is legendary. Your next task is somewhat similar, but it may not be as attractive…
For many of us, the prospect of standing extremely close to another person can be quite confronting. However, that said, in the context of this next challenge, you may find this technique the only way to survive…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after leading this simple group initiative:
What did you notice about your planning process? Was there any planning conducted?
What types of support were offered during the exercise?
Did the number of people your group could support on the platform surprise you? Why?
What was necessary to help your group succeed?
The inspiration for All Aboard is generally unknown but was popularised during the development of Project Adventure‘s adventure-based curriculum in the early 1970s.