Ensure your group continues to support a participant at all times until they have been returned to a standing position.
Assume necessary spotting role when required.
Be an active spotter at all times.
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 web because they or someone else touched the web.
Practical Leadership Tips
If the area you have selected to conduct your Spider’s Web is on a slope, always start your group on the lower side of the slope, ie pass people up the hill rather than down it.
If there are more people than web openings, a specified number of openings can be chosen for two group members to pass through.
Generally speaking, advise your group to pass the head of the participant through the web 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 to the other side of the web.
Most people prefer to face up while being passed through the web. This is also useful for spotters because it will offer them fewer sensitive places to position their hands while passing.
There are two primary benefits of using shock cord to construct the web openings:
If someone is dropped during a pass, the cord will stretch and not cause any injuries; and
If someone touches any part of the web, all parts of the web shake as proof of such.
Take a look at Levitation as a useful preparatory exercise for the Spider’s Web to practice the skills of lifting and passing participants.
In case it’s not obvious, do not allow any person to dive through the web.
Where possible, involve your group to monitor any contact with the web. This heightened role may lead to powerful conversations about accountability and integrity at the conclusion of the activity.
Spider’s Webs are often assembled between two trees in the outdoors but can also be built indoors between two supports, eg inside a door frame. A typical web is constructed of a rope perimeter and 3mm bungee/shock cord. There are also portable versions which are often manufactured using a PVC pipe frame.
If you consider building your own web, never use (non-elastic) rope or twine to fabricate the web openings.
You could integrate Spider’s Web as part of a well-designed SEL program to help your group make caring and constructive choices about personal behaviour and social interactions across different situations.
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 complexities of this dynamic challenge course activity will invite your group to interact and engage with one another in a manner that would absolutely 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?
What types of leadership were demonstrated during the exercise? Were they effective?
In what ways did the group need to adapt to accommodate the different express or implicit needs of group members?
Were there social cues and interactions that caused the group to alter its plans?
Were there moments of accountability or safety that concerned you? Did you choose to speak up? Why or why not?
Tally Ho: Challenge your group to pass all of their team members through the web with as few touches of the web as possible. Repeat the task two or more times to record their best effort.
One Touch All Touch: If any person touches the web, everyone is required to start again.
One Opening Spider’s Web: Challenge your group to decide which one of all of the possible openings every team member will be passed through. Most groups oscillate between choosing a very easy opening to something that will challenge the group to succeed.
All Mine: At any time a particular opening has been penetrated by any part of someone’s body, only this person will be permitted to pass through it. The full implication of this edict is only fully acknowledged when someone inadvertently pokes their finger or hand through an opening in the course of their conversation.
Boxed In: If possible, create a walled enclosure of webs whereby your group is trapped inside, offering them multiple webs to pass their group through to escape.
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Useful Framing Ideas
You are standing before one of the most traditional and most popular group initiatives ever developed in the Challenge Course world. At the completion of this task, you will soon discover why…
When you look at this matrix of web openings, what do you think you will be required to do?…
What does this activity remind you the look of? [ … allow for responses.. ] That’s right, it’s a giant spider’s web and today your challenge is to avoid being eaten by the giant invisible spider that is hanging above it…
I’d like you to imagine that this web of shock cord and rope strung between these two trees is a huge box of chocolates. Each opening is the perfect shape of an individual chocolate. As you can see, there is a wide assortment of shapes. Your group has been tasked with the mission to find the most efficient way of filling every one of these openings with a chocolate. Each opening will only accept one chocolate and every one of you is a chocolate…
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 be passed through and when?
What challenges did you encounter? How well did your group manage these?
Is there one thing you would do differently next time?
What surprised you during this exercise?
What didn’t surprise you? Why?
What forms of support were offered during the exercise?
Do you think every touch of the web was reported? What does this mean?
How can we support one another in day to day activities?
The inspiration for the Spider’s Web is generally unknown but was popularised during the development of Project Adventure‘s Challenge Course curriculum in the early 1970s.