Trust games make great activities for groups of any age, but many of them would be unsafe to play with groups less mature than teens. Your group of teenagers might not seem very mature until you put them in situations where they have to rely on one another. These games will teach your teenagers to trust and rely on each other and to surrender some of their own control for the sake of the group.
Blindfolds are an integral part of many trust games. Removing a person’s most dominant sense forces him to rely on other senses and his peers. Pair off the group and have one partner in each group put on a blindfold. A popular game that can be played from that point is one where the blindfolded partner is led to a tree and spun around in circles. The non-blindfolded partner must use verbal commands to guide the blindfolded partner back to the starting point. An added challenge would be to have the partner who is blindfolded remove his blindfold after reaching the starting point and then ask him to locate his tree again.
Trust Falls and Leans
Letting yourself fall backward or forward from standing goes against your better judgment most of the time. Trust falls force you to overcome your instincts and allow yourself to fall, trusting that your partner or the group will catch you. This game can be played in pairs with one partner standing behind the other ready to catch. Start by catching your partner after she has only leaned a few inches and work up to catching her when she is almost to the ground before you switch roles. To play a trust-fall game as a group, have everyone stand in a circle shoulder-to-shoulder with one person in the center. The person in the center closes his eyes and leans backward with arms folded across his chest and allows the group to gently push and roll him in every direction, trusting that the group will not allow him to fall.
Supporting Each Other
Allowing yourself to be carried is a matter of pride for many people. By teenage years, many people are self-conscious about their weight or too proud to rely on others. Play support games to encourage the teens in your group to let go a little bit and trust each other. Have your group stand in two parallel lines and have each person hold hands with the person opposite them. Each line should stand shoulder-to-shoulder. Have one person lean back onto the linked hands of the group. The group should then carry him, raise and lower him, roll him and swing him. The group will learn to coordinate their actions and the person being supported will learn that she can trust her peers.
One of the most intimate things people do is link eyes. It can be very uncomfortable for some people to hold prolonged eye contact. Choose trust games that require your group to get more comfortable looking into each other’s eyes. Pair off the group and have the partners look into each other’s eyes. Time this activity for 60 seconds. After a minute, rotate partners. For an even more intimate experience, have the partners hold hands while they play. While the group may feel uncomfortable at first, the teens are likely to have some unexpectedly positive reactions.
Based in Austin, Texas, Carrie Burns has been writing professionally since 2004, primarily ghostwriting corporate white papers and reviewing local theater productions. She has also spent time devising new works with cutting-edge theater ensembles. Burns holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.