Offer support to all group members both physically (spotting) and emotionally (supporting and contributing.)
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.
Never drop or let go of a participant who is being passed through the tyre because they touched the tyre (if this variation is applied.)
Practical Leadership Tips
Typically, the tyre is hung at a height of 1.2 to 1.5 metres (4-5′) above the ground.
Alternatively, you can hang a hula-hoop or rope-ring between two trees or a door frame as a useful proxy for the tyre. Beware, unlike a sturdy truck tyre, your group will not be able to lay any weight on the hoop.
Generally speaking, advise your group to pass the head of the participant through the tyre first. Often this is considered safer because the head and upper torso of the participant being passed is supported as soon as they are passed through the tyre.
Most people prefer to face up while being passed through the tyre. This is also useful for spotters because it will offer them fewer sensitive places to position their hands while passing.
This Challenge Course activity is also known as the Hole In One. I presume it got its name from the concept of having to escape through a porthole if your ship was sinking.
You could integrate the Porthole as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse people.
Specifically, this activity offers ample opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
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
The dynamics of this problem-solving activity will invite your group to interact and engage with one another in a manner that would necessarily speak to the benefits of having developed a set of supportive and healthy behavioural norms in advance. Or, if not, you could focus on any less-than-desired interactions or outcomes to explore what sorts of behaviours your group would prefer to see and commit to in the future.
For example, in addition to those described in the Reflection Tips tab, you could invite your group to reflect on the following questions to explore a variety of full value behaviours such as:
How did the group demonstrate its ability to care for self and others?
Generally speaking, how did the group make decisions? How were all members involved?
Describe your group’s goal-setting process?
What types of leadership were demonstrated during the exercise? Were they effective?
Was adaptability a key component of the group’s success? In what ways?
Were there moments of accountability or integrity that concerned you? When did these issues arise?
Any time one or more people are lifted off the ground is a good time to invite your group to adhere to certain safety guidelines. The physical nature of the conduct of this exercise demands that the comfort and safety of everyone is a top priority. Be sure to step in at the 11th hour if necessary to arrest a situation if you are concerned that the group is about to do something unsafe. For example, the inclination for some people to step back thinking that the spotters are attending to the safety of the participant. Physical safety is an obvious topic but do not neglect a range of mental and emotional safety measures, too. For example, you may wish to invite your group to reflect on issues such as inclusivity and equity.
No Touching: Challenge your group to pass through the porthole without any person touching the tyre, other than the first and last person.
Off-SideRule: Every person starts on one side of the tyre and is not permitted to physically assist anyone on the other side until they have passed through the tyre themselves. For safety purposes, you may permit spotters from one side to assist on the other but they are not entitled to physically assist the person being passed through the Porthole.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Trust is developed gradually when we willing choose to take risks physically and emotionally with others and arrive safely at the other end. For example, trusting others to look after our physical wellbeing can be a frightening experience and one that must be approached carefully and sensitively. Do you think our group is ready to step up to this challenge?…
We have spent a lot of time developing our collective spotting skills. We have progressed well so it’s time to test these new skills in a new team challenge…
There is a form of therapy called rebirthing which involves the participant being lead through an experience in which they imagine being born again. In some ways, this next exercise could be considered a re-birthing experience…
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 challenging group initiative:
What were the most difficult challenges of this task?
Where and when did you feel the least and most comfortable? Why?
How did your group manage these challenges? Were you successful?
What types of support were offered during the exercise?
Are these forms of support demonstrated in other areas of your group’s experience?
The inspiration for Porthole is generally unknown but was popularised during the development of Project Adventure‘s Challenge Course curriculum in the early 1970s.