I don’t know about you, but if you’ve had the thought of what it must be like to be on the moon because you know we are dampened and burdened with gravity on this space. But I understand that when you get to the moon there’s actually, you know, zero gravity. You know you could jump and it takes you a long time to maybe fall back down and stuff.
This next exercise, very quickly, is going to give you the experience of weightlessness.
Here’s how it works, and I’ll just take one of your roles for a second, but can I invite one of you to stand between me and let’s say Brian here. Okay?
So who would like to..? Perfect, great Tim so you’re going to stand. So I’m just taking your role for the moment Nick.
What’s going to happen is that I’m going to ask the person in the centre to take their own hands and place them quite firmly on their hips. Perfect, great.
You’re going to want to keep that position quite firm. What we plan to do Brian, is we’re going to take both of our hands and place them on the forearm, the bottom part of the arm, one just normally just goes underneath the elbow the other one somewhere around the wrist, but it needs to be comfortable for you and for your partner.
And here’s what’s going to happen, from a standing spot Tim I’m going to ask you to simply just jump up. Okay? So we’ll let go for a moment, but just from that position just jump up from there.
(Tim trying Moon walking)
Excellent, okay we got a sense of how far he went.
Now we’re going to now reconnect. This time when you jump maybe give us a one, two, three so we can assist you. We plan to actually lift you up into the air. Okay? We’ll only go as far as the cable though. Are you ready?
Okay, alright, you ready?
(Yup. One, two, three – trying Moon Walking)
Alright, great. So we need to get it all the way up as far as we can go. Let’s try that again.
(One, two, three – trying Moon Walking.)
Beautiful, okay, excellent. And one more time just so we’ve got that in place.
(one, two, three – trying Moon Walking.)
Excellent, okay got a little sense of weightlessness there? Alright, try that first. Get used to just elevating the person, inviting them to jump a lot higher than they normally could on their own. Be sure that if you choose to rotate your roles you have a chance to be the person on the inside as well the supports on the outside.
I have more to add, but I want you to grasp this basic concept first. Go.
(Groups of three lift the centre person when they jump trying Moon Walking.)
Yeah wherever feels comfortable. Definitely underneath the elbow. Yeah.
(One groups lifts the centre person.)
(Another group lifts their centre person – attempting to do Moon Walking.)
Whoa, jumping straight up and down, straight up and down.
You’ve basically grasped that concept of flight. We’re now going to add a little bit of distance to it. You might remember those images in 1960, whatever it was, where they were bouncing across the way. We’re now going to give a little bit of lift.
So in this occasion, perhaps we’ll come back to you Tim as we’ve got this experience, this time as you lift, we’re actually going to step forward a little bit. You’ll kind of bounce a little bit forward, but as you bounce you’ll then hit the ground bounce back up. So it’s like bounce, bounce, bounce as if you were moon walking.
Okay, and we’re going to follow you for about four or five bounces towards where Joel is at the moment. Okay? So we’re not looking to you know push you, but you are sort of going to jump forward a little bit though. Are you ready?
And you give us the count first.
(One, two, three – moving the Moon Walking.)
You don’t have to count. That’s good, excellent so we can clarify that. So you just keep bouncing soon as you hit the ground bounce again, bounce again. Alright.
(One, two, three – moving the Moon Walking.)
(Trio completes the moon walking.)
Alright, you’ve got the idea. It takes a little while to get used to it because of the weight and the movement. So give it a go. Finds yourselves some space. See how you go.
(Groups try the moon walking.)
(Prime real estate over here.)
Oh perfect yeah.
(Another group tries moon walking.)
(A different group completes the moon walking.)
How To Play Narrative
This exercise will bring your group as close to flying as is possible on this gravity-laden planet we call home.
To this end, do not introduce this activity unless your group has already exhibited healthy levels of safety consciousness in your lead-up activities.
Standing within a wide, open space, call a variety of Clumps ending with “THREE,” or simply form random groups of three people.
By way of demonstration with a volunteer threesome, ask one person to place their hands on their own hips (thumbs pointing backwards) and to hold this stance very firmly. Instruct the two others to approach their partner, and grab a lower arm each with their two hands, often placing one hand at the wrist and the other just below the elbow.
On the count of three, ask the middle person to jump high into the air from a standing start, while at the same time, instructing their partners to lift them gently into the air. Explain that the aim of this extra support is to turbo-charge the middle person’s jump to a height much higher than they could do on their own.
Now, before giving the nod for every other triad to have a go, emphasise that this extra support is dispensed gently, firmly and continuously, distinguishing it from a fling, heave or toss!
Once you’ve covered all the questions, stand back and let ’em fly.
Allow time for each person to rotate roles and be the jumper. Expect a cacophony of squeals and excitement.
Swaps partners and repeat, or try something new (see the Variations tab.)
Practical Leadership Tips
Depending on your sequence, this could be one of the first occasions in which you have introduced some form of exhilarating physical rush for your participants. It will often elicit much applause and screams (of joy.) Apart from the obvious merriment of jumping really high, this is also an excellent activity to introduce your group to the concept of taking care of others – which, in turn, contributes to building a feeling of trust, support and community.
Although the positions I have described above are common, allow the threesome involved to choose where is strongest and most comfortable for them to place their hands. What is important to stress, however, is gentle but firm grips, and that the middle person maintains a solid stance at all times.
The two outside partners should aim to hold the jumping person at all times, lest the jumper loses their balance upon ‘re-entry,’ then stumbles and falls.
Also very important, the middle person gets to determine how high they go, regardless of how willing or able their partners are to launch them high into the air. Remember, Challenge by Choice!
You could integrate Moon Walking as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to manage their emotions, thoughts and behaviours effectively in different situations and to achieve goals.
Specifically, this activity offers 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
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s wellbeing of enjoying a short dose of physical activity and working in a small team.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus and effort required to successfully lift a team member off the ground speaks to the benefits of adaptability as much as safety consciousness. For example, because we all come in different shapes and sizes, every person will necessarily require varying degrees of physical and emotional support. That is to say, some folks may love to be elevated high into the air, while others may only be able to lift their partner a short height above the ground. Herein lies a wonderful opportunity to invite your group to reflect on the well-being of others and how these thoughts may impact our actions.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Moon Walking could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Moving Forward: After a series of preparatory in-situ jumps, invite the threesome to move forward five paces, stepping forward in rapid succession with each jump. It will feel almost like they are flying.
Next Step Up: Take a look at Big Ups for another exhilarating physical stunt that will contribute towards the building of trust in your group.
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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 playing this exhilarating energiser, trust-building game:
How high could you jump without assistance?
What did it feel like to jump a lot higher with help?
Name at least three different ways you received or gave support. How did you benefit?
What might this exercise tell us about the benefits of support in our group?
High Energy ‘Warm-Up’ Session
What You Need:
8+ people, 15 mins, basketball court with clearly marked lines, indoors or outdoors