Recognise that when a fall occurs, they usually happen quickly and may occur in any direction.
When a fall is imminent, the participant agrees that they will step off the cable.
When a falls occurs, the spotters agree to move in to support the participant and prevent them from landing on the ground.
Spotters will move to keep pace with the traversing participant at all times.
Spotters will provide sufficient space between their spotting stance and the participant to allow room for movement.
Practical Leadership Tips
The foot cables should be strung no higher than approx 45cm (18″) above the ground so as to prevent harm on the occasion the participant falls and straddles a cable.
The point at which the cables cross is called the crux. This is clearly the most difficult part of the traverse because for a short distance it is like balancing on a single line of cable.
Urge your group to resist the temptation to offer or seek physical support from the spotters. When a fall occurs, simply encourage participants to make another attempt.
This activity perfectly reflects the continuum of empowerment. Spotters often feel compelled to offer a hand or a shoulder to prevent a fall from occurring (disempowering the participant.) Equally, the hand or shoulder of a spotter is a very attractive option for the traversing participant when they are feeling unsure. Ideally, the participant should feel empowered to engage in an attempt that would not be possible without the safety net of their spotters. To this end, spotters should never stand too far back from the participant to be ineffective. It’s a fine balance and the more practice one makes, the better judgements are exercised.
You could integrate Criss Cross as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to manage their emotions, thoughts and behaviours effectively in challenging situations to achieve goals.
Specifically, this activity offers ample opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Linking Feelings, Values & Thoughts
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
Anticipating & Evaluating the Consequences of One’s Actions
Promoting Personal & Collective Well-Being
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
As an introductory group initiative, the ability of your group to look after itself will open a window into the level of safety consciousness group members have for one another. For example, did the group conform to the stated safety guidelines such as completing all safety and spotting protocols before each group member stepped up onto the element?
Issues of frustration, resilience and conflict resolution may also be pertinent to your group. To this end, consider framing this activity as an opportunity for your group to practice culturally acceptable full value norms, or leverage the activity as a concrete experience to build awareness of how to establish and maintain positive relationships.
In addition to those described in the Reflection Tips tab, you may also want to invite your group to reflect on the following questions:
How connected was the group with an active participant? What is your evidence?
In what ways were empathy and compassion exhibited during the activity?
Were all of the decisions the group made responsibly?
How well did the group commit to its full value agreement?
Paired Criss Cross: Invite two people starting from opposite ends to traverse the cables at the same time. Ideally, challenge the pair to pass each other where the cables intersect. In this case, you will need twice as many spotters.
Group Criss Cross: Starting from one end, challenge your group to traverse the length of the cables together, offering physical support along the way.
Blind Criss Cross: Perform any variation without vision.
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Useful Framing Ideas
While standing on a taut foot cable is never a picture of balance, it would seem a lot more possible if there were two cables to stand on, one for each foot. But what if these two cables got closer and closer together and eventually crossed…
I often think of this next challenge as reflecting the start of a new relationship. You know what it’s like, those first few days of having a new boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s an exciting, giddy time. You feel good and everyone is happy. But then as the relationship develops, things get a little more challenging. You have to work harder to make things right and sometimes you misstep. Sound familiar? We’ll take a closer look at relationships shortly, but first, let’s play…
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 undertaking this fun challenge course activity:
As the traversing participant, what did you immediately notice or think as soon as you stepped up on the cables?
What did you observe as you progressed further along the cable?
Did the presence of your spotters make a difference to your efforts?
What point in the activity would you describe as the crux?
As spotters, did you notice any interesting patterns of behaviour?
Describe what happened when you had to support a fall. How did you feel?
Did you feel you were effective as a spotter? Why or why not?
What does this exercise say about relationships?
Can you think of another moment in your life when you were placed delicately on the crux of an experience?
The inspiration for the Criss Cross is generally unknown but was popularised during the development of Project Adventure‘s adventure-based curriculum in the early 1970s.