Position each group to stand within a designated safe area.
Nominate a second safe area located about 15 metres away.
Challenge each group to move between the two areas while using no more than four anatomical points of simultaneous contact with the ground at all times.
Allow ample time for planning and problem-solving before the first attempt.
If more points of contact are made with the ground than permitted, the group starts over.
Continue play until all groups have traversed the area ‘safely.’
How To Play Narrative
Set up your space with a this-is-where-you-are, and a this-is-where-you-need-to-get-to scenario, with something like 15 metres (50′) between the two areas. Then divide your group into small teams of seven people.
Starting from within one safe area, explain that each group of seven needs to transport their clan from this space to the other safe space while using no more than four anatomical points of simultaneous contact with the ground.
A point of contact can be a foot, a hand, an elbow, etc, but there can only be four parts touching the ground at any point in time, aka the four pointer.
To illustrate, and to connect with your practical intellect, imagine a group with four feet already on the ground. To progress forward, one person will need to lift their foot, and then perhaps allow another person to put their foot (or hand or whatever) down onto the ground, to allow their group to progress forward.
Take note, that one part of a naturally-occurring solution is to hoist people onto shoulders and backs. This is okay provided the group can demonstrate a high degree of safety-consciousness throughout the journey.
Enjoy the crazy ideas and contorted positions which are invariably explored as the activity progresses.
As a physically-challenging, team event, there is always value to be found at the conclusion of the exercise to reflect on the process and performance of your groups. See the Reflection tab for some useful starting points.
Practical Leadership Tips
Given the physical nature of the Four Pointer, carefully consider your sequence of activities leading up to this challenge. As people will often be elevated off the ground to help their team succeed, you are well-advised to introduce the skills of effective spotting to keep people safe.
The number of people per group is not critical. Simply adjust the number of points which may touch the ground according to the number of people in your group. Always err on the side of challenge. For example, a group of five people may only use three points of contact on the ground at any point in time. Or, in the case of young people, you may choose many more points of contact than for adults.
The penalty for touching into an area with more points than stipulated is up to you. Either count the number of infringements or start over.
A useful discussion point at the conclusion of this exercise may be around the level of attention afforded to safety during the exercise, and by this I mean emotional as much as physical safety. Especially in the context that this activity is often done with several groups at the same time, a spirit of competition may cloud some group’s better judgements regarding ‘safety.’
Health & Wellness Programming
The physicality of this group initiative necessarily leverages a range of critical social and interpersonal skills. Consider framing your group’s experience in advance of their attempts to help them reflect on a wide variety of competencies such as goal-setting, decision-making, safety (physical and emotional,) trial/error and risk-taking, perspective, cooperation and compassion. In addition to those described in the Reflection Tips tab, the following questions may be useful conversation starting points:
How would you describe your decision-making process? Was it effective?
Describe the balance between planning and execution? Did your group get it right?
Were there any conflicts that needed to be resolved along the way?
Comment on the level of safety consciousness embraced by the group? Were you safe?
Did everyone have a voice during the activity?
What goals did your group set? Were they realistic? Did they challenge you?
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Building on the SEL competencies described above, it is clear you could integrate Four Pointer into a carefully sequenced program to focus on the development of healthy behavioural norms. As with many group initiatives, the manner in which your group interacts and makes its decisions during this activity often reflects how they manage themselves and their full value commitments.
Three Pointer: Form teams of five people, permitting only three points of contact.
All Together: Challenge your entire group to cross the area as one wholly-connected unit, using only a mutually-agreed number of points of contact with the ground.
Optional Cargo: Challenge your group to cross the area while also carrying a bulky object, eg a chair, small table, etc.
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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 physically-challenging, group initiative:
Other than physical prowess, what other challenges did you encounter in this exercise?
What words would you use to describe your group’s problem-solving process?
How did you group attend to physical, emotional and mental safety?
How did your group support one another?
Did a sense of competition influence your performance in any way?
The inspiration for Four Pointer, and many more physically challenging group initiatives, was sourced from the following publication: