20 Nov 2006
A Walk in the Woods # Exercise 4. ‘Kick the Can’.
Getting young people, boys in particular, to be quiet and focused in a woodland is quite a task. Getting them to become aware of their surroundings, to experience the sounds, smells and feelings of being in a wood can be hard work. It would be great, therefore, to have an exercise which brought boys into a sense of complete awareness yet of which they were unaware. This exercise is called ‘Kick the Can’ and is a years old game but one which I have also found to be very powerful with adults. It places you in a woodland with all your senses heightened, rooted to one place, intensely aware of your surroundings.
**You will need;**
A woodland, with dense enough undergrowth and enough trees to hide behind that people can ‘disappear’ into it.
A metal bucket or large can.
A stout stick.
2 lengths of brightly coloured rope.
Anything between 5 and 30 people.
**How to Play.**
Mark out, by tying rope around the trees, 2 areas. One is the Prison, and needs to be large enough to fit all the people playing. The second, which is immediately adjacent to the Prison, is the Troll’s area, which is about the same size, and needs to contain, in the middle, the metal bucket hanging from a tree. One person is the Troll. Another player takes the stout stick and hurls it as far as they can. In the time it takes for the troll to retrieve it and place it in the metal bucket, all the other players have to run and hide.
The Troll’s objective is to catch all the people, and he can only do this by seeing someone and calling their name. If you are seen and called, you have to go into the prison. The people in the prison can only be released if someone manages to sneak up and hit the bucket with the stick, at which point everyone is jail is freed. That’s it basically. What happens when you play the game is that when you are in your hiding place you have no option than to sit still and quiet, yet all your senses are heightened and you are acutely aware of the sounds and movement in the wood. I have played this game with boys who just want to play it all day. I have found it a fun but powerful way of really ‘being’ in a wood. It’s good fun too! Being tall, I never actually managed to hit the can, I was always spotted!