Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Upward Bound Summer Staff Workshop

The Paradigm Shift team was fortunate enough to partner up with NEO in Miami, OK to host a half-day team building and leadership workshop for the Upward Bound Summer Staff. We had loads of fun! Enjoy the pictures below, and find the rest of the pictures here.

Ryan Eller RYan Eller RYan Eller RYan Eller RYan EllerThanks for learning with me! I had a blast and can’t wait to hear about your success from the summer!


Pipeline – A Classic Team Building Activity


Project Adventure’s Pipeline is a classic activity that will encourage your group to work together to achieve a common goal. Pipeline teaches your group that each participant has a part to play and is important to the overall success of the team.

Paradigm Shift

Number of Participants: 5-25 with the traditional Pipeline set.

Time:  20-25 minutes

Activity Level:  Moderate

Props:  Project Adventure’s Pipeline Kit: Includes Pipes, Webbing, “Eggs” – Marbles, Golf Balls, Ping Pong Balls

Objective:  To transport the eggs from their nest, down the trail, and into their safe haven – the pipe.

Set Up:

Place the “eggs” into the lid of the Pipeline Kit. Unwind a 25-50’ rope from the lid across the room ending at the pipe. Make the rope line about 10 feet longer than the length of the participants if they were lined up in a straight line.


This activity works best if related to the group via an incredibly story. I always tell the group that they are special scientists who are a traveling to a far away land to save a nest of very special eggs. These eggs belong to the Riverhawk, a rare and endangered species. These birds are rare due to the fact that they have very fragile eggs. Eggs that can only be transported by special tools that the group of scientists invented (the pipes). However, the eggs can only be transported in their special pipes if the scientists observe some simple rules. (See below). If these rules are broken, the eggs are returned to the original nest, and must be transported from the beginning.

  • Rules:
  1. The pipes may never touch each other.
  2. The eggs must never touch any part of the participant.
  3. Once in a pipe, an egg can never move backwards. It must always move towards the pipe at the end of the rope.
  4. If a participant has an egg in their pipe, that participant can not walk around the room.
  5. The pipes can not touch each other.
  6. The eggs follow the trail prepared by the facilitator.
  7. The trail and nests can not be moved.

The scientists’ special task on this adventure is to move these eggs as a group using the pipes given. They must follow the rules and must follow the trail. The eggs are being moved from the original nest to the safe haven (the pipe).  I will then give each participant a pipe of their choice and will encourage them to spend some time brainstorming ideas. When the group is ready, the facilitator will place an egg into the first participant’s pipe, and will let the adventure begin.


  • For large groups, use two pipeline kits, and have the participants follow two separate paths that lead to the same pipe.
  • Make the rope trail curvy or include obstacles in their path.
  • Attach a point value to every egg they successfully move to the final nest. Make this a timed activity and see how many points the team can accumulate in the time period.
  • Each group is different, so feel free to alter the rules to match your group’s physical and emotional levels.

Questions for discussion:

  • What steps did the group follow to complete the activity?
  • Did the group allocate adequate time for pre-planning the activity? What pre-planning steps did the group take?
  • What ideas did the group find to be the most successful to complete the activity? Which participants developed the ideas?
  • What adjustments were made when using the different eggs?
  • How did the group communicate during the activity?
  • Did any members of the group take charge? Who? How?

Facilitator Notes:

  • This activity can relate to many objectives for the group. Pipeline is an excellent communication, team-building, and problem-solving activity. Focus on the positive aspects of the team.
  • Some teams quickly understand and efficiently complete Pipeline. Other teams self-destruct and Pipeline becomes very difficult. Overall the activity is fun and very well liked by the majority of participants.
  • You can purchase or create your own Pipeline Kit. I would encourage you to buy the kit from Project Adventure because at $55 it is typically cheaper than making your own…even though I have seen people use pool noodles as the pipes and they swear by it.

I hope you enjoyed this post…below is a video of some kids in Africa playing Pipeline. I hope you get the real importance of Pipeline while watching these participants laugh and celebrate together.

Ryan Eller
Founder, Paradigm Shift

The Hundreth Monkey and Traffic Signs

This week’s activity comes from the recently published Project Adventure book, one of the best activity books I have ever read: The Hundredth Monkey: Activities That Inspire Playful Learning. In my opinion it should be sitting by the desk, bag, or shelf of every facilitator for both quick reference and to develop sound foundational theory for experiential based adventure activities. On page 225 of The Hundredth Monkey is a powerful activity that would benefit all groups…Traffic Signs.

Hundreth Monkey Cover

No one puts it better than the authors of the book, so here is a quick excerpt from his book explaining the activity:


Three pieces of flip chart paper per group and a variety of markers.


Write the word Go at the top of one sheet of paper. Write Yield on another and Stop on the final sheet.


Say to the group:

“Traffic signs can help us to navigate out in the world. They can also help us to navigate among ourselves, as members of a working group giving us direction and an understanding of the expected.


  1. Ask participants to discuss and record behaviors that will help the group to succeed on the sheet labeled Go- behaviors they want to “Go” with.
  2. Ask participants to discuss and record behaviors that may be distracting to progress on the sheet labeled Yield – behaviors they want to be cautious of.
  3. Finally, ask participants to discuss and record behaviors that hinder a group’s ability to succeed and lead to disengagement and distrust on the sheet labeled Stop – behaviors that should “Stop” or rarely happen.


  1. How does exploring group behaviors and expectations provide direction for a group? Why is direction important?
  2. How are these lists going to help us? How are we going to remember what we discussed?
  3. Have you ever discussed norms in a group before? Is it helpful?

Tips and Comments

Post the signs in a visible location to refer to in the future. Periodically ask participants to evaluate their progress according to what is written on each sheet.

I love using this activity to start and finish a training or initiative. This allows the group to develop and discuss the different traits or norms they feel would benefit the group. When facilitated before, the participants will use the group-generated Go, Yield, and Stop sheets to help guide them through an initiative. When facilitated after, the group will provide comprehensive feedback to determine what worked well and what didn’t work so well.

Please contact me if you would like more information about this activity, or how to implement it into your program’s curriculum.

Ryan Eller
Founder, Paradigm Shift

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Living My Dreams

Hey folks…it has been awhile. I’ve missed ya. Sorry for the lack of blog posts (I know all the 10s of you have been missing me!). My lapse of blogs is due to several reasons, some good, some bad.

Reason #1: I love this little girl.

I love spending time with this little girl. She is tons of fun and I get so much joy watching her with Kristin. She has her mother’s easy demeanor, laugh and looks, and she lights up when she sees me everyday! It is hard to spend time writing about leadership and experiential-based activities when I could be hanging out with this little one.

Reason #2: Work has had me hung-up.

I have been incredibly busy at work! I work for a brand new Educational Talent Search grant at NSU-Broken Arrow as a grant coordinator. Basically I help students who desire to pursue a post-secondary education and get them into the college of their choice. My new coworker Lindsey and I have been hop-scotching all across the state recruiting new students, meeting with administrators, and taking students on campus tours. This leaves very little time for me to blog. I have been busy, but when you are doing a job you love, busy is good!

Reason #3: Traveling the world!

Ryan Eller

I have been traveling all over the US hosting leadership camps, facilitating workshops, and delivering keynote addresses. Momentum is building, and as my good friend and personal assistant Jerrod Murr always says, “Once you get Big Mo rolling…watch out!” I love traveling, I love facilitating and meeting new people, but it makes it hard for me to blog.

Reason #4: 70.3 = busy

Ryan Eller

I am training for my first Half-Ironman. The race is in September, includes a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile cycle, and a 13.1 mile run. I recently joined the world’s nicest gym and have been pulling some two-a-day workouts. I typically workout before work and on my lunch break just so I can get my body adjusted to this type of training. I love it and look forward to seeing the tangible results of my swimming and weight training (I typically drink 1-2 gallons of water while swimming). It is hard to blog while swimming, but I may try it while cycling, 56 miles is a long way to ride.

Reason #5: I have been as tired as David Ott.

When you are going like I have been going, it is easy to get tired. It is almost as easy to get complacent and lazy as well. I have just been too tired and too lazy to blog. This stops today. I have only a few events coming up, so I plan on updating my blog consistently.

A few things to look out for in the next few weeks:

1. Reflections on my recent trainings.

2. Many pictures of Sweet Baby Jane and hilarious stories of her jovial antics.

3. A list of Twitter-ready quotes. Twitter>Facebook.

4. The latest and greatest videos YouTube has to offer on experiential-based activities.

5. Several book reviews (you know you love ‘em).

6. New (and free) activities to use with your group.

7. An update on my 2012 goals.

8. My thoughts and musing on leadership.

9. Rundowns of my happenings with TRiO, ODSA, SWASAP and ETS (and explanations about TRiO’s fascination with acronyms).

10. My upcoming Leadership Conference in Brazil, and the big news about 2014. (Huge news!)

RIP Billy Mays

I’ve missed you. Hopefully you haven’t completely forgotten me. Let’s get reacquainted over the next few weeks. I’ll send out some blog posts, you’ll read them, it will be awesome.

As always, let me know if there is something you want me to blog over. If it isn’t ridiculous (hard to get ridiculous with me), than I will make it happen. Comment below and subscribe if you are feeling frisky.

Don’t Break the Ice – Team Building Activity

Ever been influenced? Someone ever pushed you to doing something you didn’t want to do? What about something you did want to do?

Experiential Adventure Influences
I don’t know who influenced this awesomeness, but thank you. 

Influences, you got to love them. Sometimes influences are positive, they can push you to achieve new heights and reach your goals. Jerrod Murr, my personal assistant, is a solid influence in my life. He has inspired me in so many ways, and I am glad to have him in my life. Other times influences can be negative. I try to avoid negative influences like the plague.

Influences are the premise behind this classic and easy team-building initiative I first learned in Boston at Project Adventure. Step back to your childhood and buy the only prop needed in this activity, a new or gently used set of Don’t Break the Ice.

Experiential Adventure Don't Break the Ice
No need to keep the little ice-skating man.

Don’t Break the Ice

Number of Participants: 10-20
Time:  10-15 minutes
Activity Level:  Low
Props:  Set of Don’t Break the Ice

Objective: To lift the ice cubes higher than the group’s head.

Set Up: Set 3 ice cubes on the floor in a straight row in between two participants.

Rules: A participant can only use the tip of their index finger on one hand.


Find a creative way to pair up the group members. I usually ask them to find the person in the group with an index finger similar in size to theirs. Placing the blocks in between two participants, challenge the dyad to raise the three ice cubes above their head only using the tip of their index finger.

Enjoy watching the teams push the cubes back and forth, up and down, and even upside down to achieve their goal. After the team has reached new ice cube heights, encourage the teams to pair up with another group, combine the cubes, and try it again. Then double the group size again, and again, and again…or until the entire group is lifting their cubes into the air!

Experiential Adventure
Can they do it?
Experiential Adventure Don
They are doing it!
Experiential Adventure Don't Break the Ice
They did it!

Variation: Challenge the participants to use their non-dominant hand.

Questions for Discussion:

1. How did you get influenced to accomplish your goal?
2. Are influences negative or positive?
3. Did you “give in” to the influences, or did you “push” against them?
4. What types of influences do you have in your life?
5. Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt influenced? Was it negative or positive?

Facilitator Notes:

1. Sometimes it is easier to accomplish this task if the teams are lifting an actually cube of ice cubes. (Not a 3D cube, but a flat cube of ice cubes on the floor…more like a square. Definitely a square. I should have used that in the example.)
2. Sometimes it is easier to accomplish this task if the teams are lifting a square of ice cubes. (Made more sense, huh?)

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions either leave a note below or email me!
Ryan Eller
Founder, Experiential Adventure

I’m going to Cuba!

I am headed to Cuba on Tuesday, and I couldn’t be more excited. This is such a wonderful opportunity for me as the founder of Experiential Adventure, as a facilitator, and as man. I expect this to be a monumental trip…some would say it is going to be epic…and I hope to be able to blog about all the experiences when I get back!

The team will be traveling early Tuesday morning to Miami, where we will be able to experience the Miami lifestyle for about 3 hours before we hit the hotel early for our 4 a.m. charter flight on Wednesday to Camaguey, Cuba. We will then host a leadership conference for about 300 Cuban men striving to be ministers. We will be able to provide the necessary tools to for them to become certified preachers. Experiential Adventure helped provide the structure and activities for many of the workshops and plenary sessions provided for the conference. We will be engulfed in the Cuban traditions and culture, eating their food, living part of their life, and hopefully be able to see part of the island. Wish us luck!

Ozarka College Leadership Conference

Recently I was able to go to beautiful Mountain View, AR with Jerrod Murr and present at Ozarka College Student Support Services Leadership Conference at the Ozark Folk Center. The day started off with some technical difficulties, so we were not able to use our awesome Prezi, which surely would have blown their socks off, but we persevered, ;). We tried out a few new activities, such as Dream Catcher, an activity which forces the participants to create their dreams, declare them audibly, and then narrow the dream in focus.

We also led them through an activity called Rank a Quote, where the participants were shown a quote about leadership, and then were asked to rank that quote on a scale of 1-10 on the quote’s relevance to their life. This activity created great conversation and “debate” between the participants.

We focused primarily on a change of culture within the participants. Assuring them that this is their time to change their life, change their future, and create a new norm within their life. The following Prezi sums up our presentation…

[gigya src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" width="550" height="400" bgcolor="#ffffff" flashvars="prezi_id=liqdi80bznxv&lock_to_path=0&color=ffffff&autoplay=no&autohide_ctrls=0"]

After our presentation we were able to go to the Ropes Course they had on site and watch all of our participants put their new-found leadership skills into action!

Thanks to Okarka College for allowing us to present to your wonderful students…it made our day!


The Power of Conformity

Why do people conform? Why do we do the status quo? What is wrong with changing things up a little bit and being ourself? Why do we stand towards the front of the elevator?

This Candid Camera video from yesteryear is an interesting look at the power of conformity, and the video conveys this serious issue in a light and funny way. My initial thought was, “Why did everyone feel the need to turn with the group, even though their direction did not really matter?” After watching the video a few times, I began to wonder why we stood facing the front of the elevator to begin with, and why do we take off hats in public, and what is the meaning of life, aaahhhh… OK, so I didn’t quite go that far, but it did get me thinking…and reminiscing.


My freshmen year in college my geography professor, Dr. Chuck Ziehr, covered the topic of conformity in elevators and how much chaos can come out of someone being different and doing something different within those 8′ x 8′ walls. It was a lesson on culture and how the conformities of race, religion,  gender, socioeconomic status, etc., effect our everyday lives. How one person being different can alter our daily routine, our perceptions of others, and maybe even our outlook on life.

Some conformity is good…there is actually a reason why we stand facing the front of the elevators (how else would we know when we were at our floor…it’s not like we are going to actually talk to a stranger on there…haha), and there our other societal conformities that make us better people and can also help us live easier lives. However, conformity just conformity’s sake is not wise or healthy.

Are you acting in a certain way because you think it is the right thing to do, or because someone else has told you it is the right thing to do? I challenge you to be different. I challenge you to question why you do the things that you do.  Live your life not being afraid to ask questions, and not afraid to be yourself and you will be amazed at the things you can accomplish! Have you seen ways in which people conform, whether it be healthy or non-healthy?

Educational Talent Search Seniors on the Ropes Course

This week we took out ETS Seniors to the ropes course at Rogers State University and had an amazing time! We take our students to the course as freshmen and as seniors to bridge them through the transitions the are soon to encounter. Many of the seniors on the course this week had went as freshmen, and we hope that their transition into college will be as seamless and fun as their time on the course! 

We started off facilitating stretches, warm ups, icebreakers, tag games, energizers, and name games! 

The students then broke into two groups and dominated Flip the Whale, and then show extreme communication and determination while completing Rescue Ralph. 

Once the group had “graduated” from the ground activities and proven that they could work well as a team, we moved on to learning spotting techniques, trust falls, and Willows in the Wind. The group learned the importance of trusting each other, communicating with confidence, and how to be encouraging to those who need a little guidance. 

The groups then split up into three groups, and rotated through three low ropes initiatives…”Wild Woozy,” “Swinging Log,” and “Islands.” The low ropes initiatives challenged the group to work together as a team to solve a common problem, and they used the tools and techniques learned earlier in the day to complete even the hardest of tasks. 

After a delicious lunch, the group reconvened to the high ropes section of the course and climbed the course up the zig zags and across the grapevines, over the swinging log and the suspension bridge and made it to the coup de grace of the course, the zip line, where their jump off the platform symbolized their transition into the next phase of their life. They may not know where they are headed in the future, but they know that if they work hard, depend on others, remain confident and secure….they will reach their goals. 

I am so proud of our seniors. They pushed themselves out of their comfort zone, and are ready for whatever life throws their way! 

Morris First Assembly of God

This Saturday I traveled to the “Little Town with a Big Welcome”…Morris, OK to Morris First Assembly of God to do a leadership training and goals seminar with Experiential Adventure staffer Jerrod Murr. This workshop was centered on goals and vision, and the principles of SMART goals. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) The group was challenged from the first initiative until the last initiative to develop, culture, progress and define their goals, as individuals, as a group of leaders and as a church.


The sequencing for the group was as follows:

One Minute Frenzy
Hey You
Fast Fingers
Bumpity, Bump, Bump, Bump
Human Geography
Number Line Up
Watch a Member
Dream Catcher
One Word Whip
Smart Goals
I Am About Cards
Count the Beans
High and Low Cards
Watch a Member Recap
Dream Catcher Revisited

What a great group…thanks for allowing us to come!