Learning through play: The wheelbarrow and the nest

Mercy Mvurya

Wednesday 9 March 2022

The 20th ANLP in-person component at Elgro River Lodge entered its second day today. It was a rainy and chilly morning. Participants were excited and ready for a productive day. Having had a restful night I was particularly feeling energized and ready to take any challenge that would come my way. From previous sessions, I had come to the realization that the program would require me to get out of my comfort zone. I was optimistic.

The session began with a discussion on strategic thinking and as it went on my fears of what would be of the day’s teambuilding were laid to rest. The lessons demanded that we tackled challenges that came our way and found innovative ways to overcome them. We had a full day, despite the weather. The team building activities we had done earlier had taught us many lessons and it was interesting to note how small things that seemed like just play could carry with them great lessons.  Luckily the rain subsided just in time for the activities. We couldn’t have guessed what was coming. The first activity involved carrying a group member on a wheelbarrow while blind folded. As usual, it sounded like a nice fun game, but we soon realized that it was quite challenging. The blindfolded member who happened to be the wheelbarrow pusher had to depend on the ‘passenger’ for guidance. Communication, confidence, and trust were crucial.

Innovative and strategic leadership was showcased through the construction of a nest with availed materials. Teams were challenged to make a nest good enough to cushion an egg against breakage when dropped from a height. It got participants thinking and exploring ways to do it. The task required a lot of creativity. Teams worked hard within the little allocated time. In the end, none of the nests stood the test. Important lessons were drawn, nonetheless. In both cases the teams had followed a plan together and agreed. They had to own up and take responsibility for the outcome, as a team and that’s an important aspect of teamwork.

As adults we tend to play less. At least I do. It may be that we have less time for it but often, it may be that we deem it as a less important way of learning than other methods. We think of it as an activity for children, but do we stop to wonder why they learn things so fast? Mind engaging games can teach us lessons we wouldn’t learn in a classroom. So let’s all get some time off our busy schedules and engage in some play shall we?