Helping kids learn to work together to overcome challenges

By Bruce Hall

As the father of twin girls, each year I spend the community service hours the company gives its employees to help at the Arlington Public Schools. This year I helped with a 6th grade class trip to Hemlock Overlook Regional Park in Clifton, VA. More than just a nature walk and some zip lining, the students had to work in groups to solve a series of challenges that required teamwork, communication, leadership, collaboration, and trust.

For example, one of the tasks was to guide a blindfolded classmate through an obstacle course and each student could only say one word (right, left, duck). As you would expect, things got off to a rocky start with overexcited students calling out their word at the wrong time. This was exacerbated by the fact that the group hadn’t chosen the word “turn,” leading to difficulty guiding their classmate around obstacles. Eventually, they fell into a rhythm and guiding the blindfolded student went faster during the second half of the course. When the task was finished, the teacher held a discussion on what they think went well and what could have gone better. It was a wonderful experience watching the kids learn to work together as a team as the day went on.