In this introduction you will find those of all our tested methods which proved to be the most useful for our aims and the ones most liked by our participants. They are divided into subcategories as follows: 1. Warming ups/Energizers, 2. Ice-breakers, 3. Cooperation and Communication, 4. Conflict Awareness and Resolution, 5. Evaluation. At the beginning of each of these chapters you will find short information about what the methods can be used for. Together with these methods we would like to give you some basic hints, of which some might seem unnecessary at first. We still consider them important, as we would like to make this handbook useful also for all who are not yet very experienced in non-formal or outdoor education.
1. Establishing a positive, trustful atmosphere
The atmosphere during a team training is highly important and should of course be a trustful one, in which nobody is being laughed at for their fears or offended. Be prepared to offer enough warming-ups and ice-breakers for relaxing the atmosphere. Every participant should have the feeling of being able to express his or her needs openly and being taken seriously. If the group leaders set an example in showing good team work and if they set value on respectful cooperation, then the group can be geared to it. A good sense of humor and laughing with (not at!) each other also adds a lot to it.
2. Preparation and safety
The grounds on which the methods take place should be well-chosen. This also counts for the material which is being used, especially, if you are using climbing ropes. The group leaders need to know potential dangers, eliminate them if possible or point them out to the group. As a group leader one has to pay attention to the group’s interaction with each other and that nobody is being hurt. In case of need the action has to be interrupted or stopped.
3. Do not force anyone to participate, rather try motivating them
A participant’s wish not to participate in a certain action should be respected. Forcing someone into a certain activity will in most cases result in the opposite of what you are trying to reach with a team training. Try motivating them or finding out what their reasons are, because they can be very personal and individual. If it is fear why they don’t want to, then maybe you can calm them down. Should this not help, try letting them watch from the side. It is likely that they join in later (seeing the others having fun) if the method allows this. You can also give them responsible tasks, like helping with the material or paying attention to the safety of the other participants together with the group leaders.
4. Overcoming the point of Frustration
Sometimes finding a solution for the given task seems impossible for the group. At this point it is good to motivate them and to maybe lead them into the right direction by asking targeted questions. Do not at once show or tell them how it works. If the group overcomes this point of frustration independently, then the sense of achievement can be even stronger. It is the group’s decision if they want to finish the task or to give up. If they do not want to and/or if the mood changes, be prepared to catch them in a moment of disappointment. Leaving the group alone in such a situation can be extremely counterproductive if you are trying to work on group dynamics.
Non-violent conflict resolution was the basic topic of this project, and in this context we recommend evaluating the methods together with the group afterwards. Through directed questions the team leaders can initiate a reflection upon individual actions, upon roles within the group and upon communication behavior during solving the tasks. Through linking what happened during the “games” to the everyday-life of the participants, the effect is more enduring. Instead of offering their own, complete interpretations the team leaders should encourage the group to share their own thoughts.