Assume necessary spotting role (or invite other group members) when required, eg when a participant is attempting a difficult traverse.
Be an active member of the group.
Agree that if a fall is imminent, to step off the cable and immediately let go of other participants, ie this is generally regarded as a self-spotting exercise.
Recognise that when a fall occurs, they usually happen quickly and will occur in any direction.
Agree to refrain from attempting rapid, solo moves toward a support tree or pole.
Offer support to all group members both physically (spotting) and emotionally (supporting and contributing.)
Practical Leadership Tips
Ideally, if you choose to spot a participant’s move, position yourself behind the participant. This logic generally suggests that someone is more likely to harm themselves when they fall backwards than when they fall forwards (and can see what is in front of them.)
Note, some participants will continue to hold the hands or body of those who have fallen long after they have stepped off the cable. You may need to remind your group frequently that this practice is not permitted.
Time Challenge: Challenge your group to traverse as far along the cables as possible in a specified length of time, eg 25 minutes.
Tally Ho: Challenge your group to traverse the entire length of the cables with as few touches of the ground as possible. Repeat the task two or more times to record their best effort.
Back of Group: Instruct any member of the group who falls off any part of the Mohawk Walk to start again from the tree (or pole) directly behind the last (safe) person of the group. For example, if your group has successfully traversed the first two sections of cable and the last person is standing on the third cable, any person who falls will be required to resume at the start of the third section (not the first.)
Connected Moves: Any and all moves to traverse the cables must always be performed while connected to another person in the group, ie no solo attempts.
One Down All Down: Instruct the whole group to start over when one person falls or steps off the cable. This makes the task particularly challenging but it will certainly sharpen your group’s awareness of risk management.
Two Way Traffic: Split your group into two smaller teams, each starting from opposite ends of the Mohawk Walk traverse. Beware, the team which starts at the ‘end’ may find it very difficult to get started because this cable traverse is traditionally the longest, ie most difficult.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Legend informs us that there was once a very proud nation of First Nation people who were called the Mohawks. Every year, they would travel from one part of their land to another in search of food. A part of this trek involved traversing a very narrow section of land. So narrow, it was not uncommon for some people to sadly fall off the edge to their death. The apparatus set up before you represent this trek…
Your group has been tasked with a mission to transport a very important message across this challenging frontier. Each person will be given one part of this secret message, none of which will be revealed until you have completed the task. It is critical that all parts of the message are kept together, however, it is recognised that it may get mixed up and jumbled along the way…
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 challenging group initiative:
Did your initial plan proceed the way you expected?
How did your group make decisions, eg who would go first, last, etc?
What words would you use to describe your group’s decision-making process?
What challenges did you encounter?
How did you feel when you fell off the cable?
How did you feel when you suddenly found yourself at the front of the group?
Did you ask for help? Did you offer help? Why or why not?
Did you observe moments during this exercise that reflect the way your group operates day to day?
What lessons do you think we could learn from this activity?
The inspiration for Mohawk Walk is generally unknown but was popularised during the development of Project Adventure‘s Challenge Course curriculum in the early 1970s.