On Halloween this year, I walked into a local private school to work with the 6th-grade class for the morning. I love 6th-grade. Specifically, I love 6th-grade boys. There’s just enough attitude there to where you can fire back at them with all you’ve got and they love you for it. My personality fits well in 6th-grade. We don’t need to discuss this.
I’ve already told you, I was a bit nervous to ‘go to work’ again. But, I did my homework and was ready with a list of new activities and questions that could have kept us busy all day. It was a gorgeous day, and we split our time inside (games with balloons work better inside… that may help you in the future) and outside. We talked about being together and being yourself. We talked about how hard it is to guide a group towards a common goal. We talked about expectations and fear of failure. And I told them, if they worked well together all morning, I would give them one of my hardest challenges.
They made good.
And now, I offer it to you.
This is an activity that was designed by a Survival Trainer and is given to military trainees. I had the kids split into groups of 5 and then handed them a paper with the following scenario and instructions on it:
You and your companions have just survived the crash of a small plane. Both the pilot and co-pilot were killed in the crash. It is mid-January, and you are in Northern Canada. The daily temperature is 25 below zero, and the night time temperature is 40 below zero. There is snow on the ground, and the countryside is wooded with several creeks crisscrossing the area. The nearest town is 20 miles away. You are all dressed in city clothes appropriate for an important business meeting. Your group of survivors managed to salvage the following items:
A ball of steel wool
A small axe
A loaded .45-caliber pistol
Can of Crisco shortening
Newspapers (one per person)
Cigarette lighter (without fluid)
Extra shirt and pants for each survivor
20 x 20 ft. piece of heavy-duty canvas
A sectional air map made of plastic
one quart of 100-proof whiskey
Family-size chocolate bars (one per person)
Your task as a group is to list the above 12 items in order of importance for your survival. List the uses for each. You MUST come to agreement as a group.
The kids had to decide individually on their list first. After about 10 minutes, I asked them to return to their groups and rank the items as a group. While there are actual answers to this challenge (which I gave them at the end, and will give you on Thursday), the real beauty of this activity is the opportunity to watch how people work independently versus in a group. We were able to talk about mob mentality, personalities, how to survive with people you don’t like, what it’s like to not have a lot of information but still have to make serious decisions… it’s a very cool, wide-open, big activity. And, of course, the idea that this is usually given to adults really made them excited.
It was a fantastic day. The group did really well and, I think, had a lot of fun… which was our main goal. But, I think they also have some positive memories and laughs to fall back on now which may help later this year in tougher times. Sixth-grade is hard. Thanks for all your encouragement leading into that day. I felt very loved.
So, I offer you the challenge… just for kicks. Read the activity above again and then list the items in order of importance for survival. Thursday, I’ll give you the ‘real’ answers. Give it to your significant other, too. They’ll come up with answers completely opposite of you with completely different reasoning, I promise. It’s a little maddening.
Let me know below if you’re playing… I’ll need your answers. Only your top 5 answers are scored, so think about those the most. The one who scores best will receive a small prize. Because I love you. And because 6th-grade was hard.