The Snowflake Generation

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The Snowflake Generation

Richard Wise

The weather outside has us thinking of a term normally reserved for this time of year, but that is now increasingly being used to describe young people – “ Millennial Snowflake.” These youngsters are “viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations.” Some take this view further. One reporter for The Spectator believes that “They are genuinely distressed by ideas that run contrary to their world view.”

Is this really the case? Or, as mental health experts argue, are Millennials just better at admitting their feelings than previous generations? The University of Birmingham conducted research into stress, anxiety and depression. Large numbers of 16 – 24 year old’s felt they had experienced these in the last year. This was compared with adults over the age of 25 in the same time period.

It is a very divided debate. What is clear however, is that young people need more tools in their mental toolbox to help them succeed in today’s fast paced world.

How do team building activities increase these skills?

Multiple studies have shown the numerous benefits of taking part in team building challenges, with some of the most relevant including:

Increased Motivation:

Participants learn to approach challenges with a more positive mindset, making them want to try harder. Learning to remain resilient when something might take longer than expected is crucial. Re-starting a task is a good opportunity to do better.

Flexibility:

Inspiring creativity and rewarding new ideas to solve challenges. As a result, young people learn that there is often more than one way of completing something. Exposing them to more opportunities that encourage this way of thinking will lead to new strengths. They are then better able to cope with change and new developments as a result.

 

IMPROVED COLLABORATION:

One common belief regarding Millennials is that they are less receptive to the ideas of others. Consequently, by working in teams across a number of tasks, participants learn to appreciate the value of other people’s input. This is especially evident if they are struggling to complete something on their own. Logical puzzles, physical endurance – everyone has their strengths.

How can WiseUp help?

By building on these benefits, we give young people more strategies to deal with stressful situations. This helps them avoid developing anxiety and depression. While improving communication skills, productivity and prioritisation, they are also making important life connections.

Investing in the younger generations now will also have the additional benefit of taking some of the strain off mental health services. A “millennial snowflake” has a lot to offer the world, and we can help them shine!

To find out what activities will best suit the needs of the young people you engage with, please use our easy enquiry form or give us a call.

5 NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS IDEAS

Richard Wise

New Years Resolutions to nudge us out of our comfort zones

As the clock struck midnight and signalled the start of 2020, many of us will have been filled with good intentions of grand plans. And some with changes we want to make and goals to achieve in the year ahead. Some of these may now be feeling a bit daunting. Some of us were unable to come up with any at all! So here are a few ideas to encourage everyone to try something different, meet new people and get out of that comfort zone! Bring on the New Years resolutions!

1. Try a new fruit or vegetable

Have a browse at a supermarket or, even better, fresh produce market for something you have never eaten before. Ever heard of a kiwi berry? They are a real thing (and very yummy!) How about a mangosteen, rambutan or dragon fruit? Ethnic shops are awesome places to find products not normally seen on the shelves of your local Tesco, and the shopkeepers are very helpful with information about how to prepare and eat these delicious items. As New Years resolutions go, this is a tasty one!

2. Volunteer

Even if it is just for an hour a week, supporting a cause that is close to your heart not only gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside, but is also a great way to meet some fascinating people. Whether it’s with animals, children, vulnerable adults or war veterans, find something that you can dedicate your skills to for the good of others. Answering phones, preparing and serving food, cleaning cages, reading books, helping at fairs, supervising an activity or simply talking to people – the list is endless so use what you’ve got!

3. Wake up 5 minutes earlier to stretch

This one may sound a bit silly, but for a lot of us, our bed is the epitome of our comfort zone. We all lead busy lives and either leap out of bed when the alarm goes off, or try to squeeze in a few extra zzzzzzz’s by hitting the snooze button before we start out daily To Do list. Giving ourselves just a couple of minutes to stretch in the morning has been proven to lead to more productive days.

And it’s not just stretching our arms, back and legs that has benefits – try stretching your mouth as well. When our smiling muscles contract, they fire a signal to the brain which stimulates our reward system and releases endorphins to make us happy. Basically, when we smile, whether it’s real or not, our brain feels happier – Fake it till you make it and see how much more positive each day becomes!

4. Swap Club

Try swapping something of yours with a friend while you try theirs. It might be a book swap, a different shade of nail varnish, a recipe or even a gadget swap. Trying someone else’s technique of doing something can lead to us learning all sorts of new things and experiencing events we would never normally have done. This New Years resolution can lead to new conversations as an added bonus!

5. Travel somewhere new

It doesn’t have to be somewhere far flung, exotic and expensive. It could be as simple as catching a bus or train that you’ve never got before, or giving yourself a set budget and seeing what flights or coaches are available on your chosen dates. If you’re feeling really adventurous, why not try booking on the day, or for the really brave, try a 24 hour challenge with friends where you see how far from home you can get and back again in 24 hours?

Get in touch

To see what new skills and experiences we can offer, please use our easy enquiry form drop us an e-mail or give us a call.

5 Free Festive Fun-Time Activities

Richard Wise

The holiday season is in full swing and at our WiseUp Base in Kent, we are totally feeling the festive vibes. Embracing the spirit of giving, here are 5 festive activities that are guaranteed to be enjoyed by family and friends. These can be played individually or in teams, and there are lots of different variations of each game.

1. Christmas Tree of Cups

Each person is given 15 or 21 cups which they must race to stack in the shape of a Christmas tree, before collapsing them down into a single stack. The first person to do so wins!

2. Snowman Wrap

The aim of the game is to create the best human snowman! Use old jumpers, hoodies, scarves and shirts to bulk out someone to a snowman shape. Then wrap them in toilet paper until they resemble a jolly white snowman! This can be done as a race or competition to see which team creates the best looking. A variation is to create a human Christmas tree using tinsel, baubles and tissue paper.

3. Christmas Cookie Face Off

Each person has a cookie or biscuit placed on their forehead and they have to get it into their mouths without using their hands. If the biscuit falls off, they have to start again with it on their forehead.

4. Gift Wrap Grab

Begin with a tightly wrapped gift box on a table with players standing around it. One player starts wearing a pair of large oven mitts and attempts to unwrap the present while the person to the left of them rolls a dice. If a 6 is rolled, then the roller gets the mitts and present and tries to unwrap it while the dice moves one person to the left. The person who managed to completely unwrap and open the present gets to keep it!

5. Baulbal Blow Out

Place 3 cups filled right to the top with water near the edge of a table and put a round plastic bauble floating on top of each. About 5cm directly in front of each cup, closer to the middle of the table, place another identical cup, also filled to the top with water. Players have to race to blow the bauble from each cup across the 5cm gap onto the water filled cup in front of it one at a time. Variations include increasing the number of cups, increasing the distance between cups or swapping players between baubles.

Keep the fun going even after returning to school

WiseUp have a whole host of enjoyable activities to keep everyone engaged and active, especially in the winter months after the festive season has ended. Please take a look around our website for more information on events such as our Hub Challenge and Time Attack days.

Loneliness in Young People

Richard Wise

With the holiday season beginning to descend upon us, “Joy to the World” and festive cheer tends to have most people smiling as they spend time with their nearest and dearest. From large family Thanksgivings and close family Hanukkahs to rowdy Christmas events and New Years parties, this is a time for people to be together. Sadly, not everyone is able to feel the merriment of the next couple of months. Who can forget the tearjerker of an advert from John Lewis back in 2015 entitled The Man on the Moon, which highlighted loneliness amongst the older generations. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, according to a number of recent studies on the topic, the people who feel most lonely are young adults.

The biggest ever “Loneliness” study in the UK of 55,000 people found that two in five 16-24 year old’s reported feeling lonely often or very often, a figure which showed that they experienced this feeling more than any other age group. With these tech savvy youngsters using all the social media platforms, they are more connected than ever before. But having thousands of Facebook friends does not necessarily translate to real life. The report, which was conducted by BBC 4’s All In The Mind in conjunction with the Wellcome Trust, in fact found that those who report feeling more lonely had more Facebook friends than those who do not. This also manifests in physical problems, with the effect of the ”Loneliness Epidemic” said to be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

How can young people tackle the problem?

Simply being outside is a great place to start. A study at the University of Essex found that just 5 minutes a day outdoors was enough to improve people mood and self-esteem. When outside, and especially if the sun is shining, our bodies release endorphins and other “happy hormones” such as serotonin which makes us feel good. When people feel good about themselves, they are more likely to interact with others. Even a short walk to the local shop and a quick chat with the cashier can raise a person’s mental state significantly.

Exploring the world outdoors naturally brings people into contact with one another. Walking along a path or trail, generally folk will say “Hello” or “Good Morning.” Dog walkers are especially known for this! Repeated often, this can lead to more meaningful interactions as people start to recognise each other. If you don’t have a dog of your own, why not volunteer to be a walker at a local refuge or shelter?

Camping overnight is another great way to spend time outdoors with people. Even going on your own, campsites are very social places, with communal washing up areas and pitches near others. Lots of local groups organise campouts, so why not try to find one in your local area?

If the idea of approaching others is off-putting, there are ways of attracting people to come to you. Taking something as small as a couple of balls  to a local park to try and teach yourself to juggle, or make some simple sock poi, or a simple slackline between two trees will act as a magnet. People will be curious as to what you are doing and will come over and ask, maybe giving you a chance to demonstrate your skills or even to share some of their own with you.

Joining a sports team or special interest group is a great way to meet a lot of new people. With local Facebook groups and sites such as MeetUp, it is easier than ever to find people with whom you share common ground or try something completely new and have people to laugh with. Interacting via digital platforms before and after taking part can help lessen the initial anxiety about meeting, and continue to build the relationships as time goes on.

How can a WiseUp Team Building day help?

By taking part in one of our bushcraft or archery events, thousands of students have the opportunity to try something they haven’t done before. This has led to many of them pursuing these new interests by joining archery clubs and scout groups.

Our range of team building and problem solving challenges are designed to be completed in teams. By ensuring that young people have to combine their skills in order to finish a task, this causes a release of the bonding hormone, Oxytocin. Participants realise the value of working with others rather than trying to do everything on their own. This is even further emphasised with tasks which involve people physically supporting one another (maybe over or around something) as oxytocin is stimulated by touch. Meaning that the physically closer people are to one another, the mentally closer they are as well.

Contact Us

Give our lovely office team a call on 01732 822753 or drop us an e-mail to find out what we can offer your students to help them make new friends and strengthen existing bonds.

The Break-ing of Social Skills in School Children

Richard Wise

With the ever-growing impact of social media on young people, interpersonal skills such as communication, both verbal and non-verbal, are not developing in the way they have done traditionally. Where children used to spend hours playing with their friends, riding bikes outside their houses after school or climbing trees together in the park, they now prefer to engage with one another electronically. The result is a generation that struggles with the subtle nuances of body language and tone, which can lead to diminished meaningful relationships.

The impact of this is felt especially in schools, where students are not able to revert to WhatsApp, SnapChat or any of their “usual” methods of communication. When using a phone or computer to chat, if a situation becomes awkward, there is the option to simply dis-continue the conversation. In real life however, it can be uncomfortable to end a face to face discussion, which can result in more negative interactions due to a lack of experience in those kinds of circumstances. While students are focusing on the school curriculum, the emphasis is still on the individual learning, despite a marked increase in incorporating group work into many subjects. Sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher, whilst important for their education, does not give young people the chance to socialise all that much.

But they still have break and lunch time to hang out together?

Unfortunately, a study by UCL’s Institute of Education found that these times are being increasingly reduced in schools. Primary aged learners now get 45 minutes less break time every week compared to back in 1995. Afternoon break is being “virtually eliminated” with only half of primary schools now factoring it into the timetable. Secondary schools fare even worse, with afternoon break being part of only 15% of school’s regular days, adding up to a loss of 65 minutes of break time every week for these older students.
Lunch times have also been hugely trimmed down in secondary schools, with over 82% having a lunch that lasts less than 55 minutes. Back in 1995, it was only a third of schools who had the shorter lunch time.

The reasons being given for these changes are largely down to schools feeling the need to increase teachers contact time with their students. With intense pressure to cram more learning into the school day, to provide a larger percentage of higher grades, young people are losing the time to socialise and develop key soft skills. Some students are missing out on even the small windows of time that are allocated as 60% of schools were found to withhold breaks as a punishment. This also denies young people the chance to increase their daily exercise.

How can WiseUp help?

With growing concern about young people’s mental and physical health, these figures are very worrying. Here at WiseUp, we strongly believe in young people getting every opportunity to improve their inter-personal skills, while engaging in gentle exercise. Our team building products have been designed to fulfil many of the National Curriculum criteria, meaning that a WiseUp day ticks many of the boxes needed by schools.

While participating in a range of different tasks, students focus on their communication within a supportive team environment. Building trust amongst one another alongside personal resilience, our full and half day challenges give students the chance to engage in face to face interactions, while also giving them a break from a traditional classroom setting. They will probably be having so much fun, they won’t even realise they are learning!

Contact Us

Give our friendly office team a call on 01732 822753 or  use our easy enquiry form to see what options are available for your students.

Can Outdoor Team Activities help socially?

Richard Wise

Team Activities in the Great Outdoors

With the summer holidays in full swing, many of us are indulging in our favourite out of school activities – sleeping, chilling, and hanging out with friends. Going swimming, watching the latest films and chatting together late into the night, being around our besties can be a lot of fun. But are we surrounding ourselves with the right people? Taking part in outdoor team activities can help us figure this out.

What does that even mean?

Whether we realise it or not, the people we choose to have around us have a big impact on the rest of our lives. Science has proven that by simply being in close proximity to positive people, our own emotional well being is improved as a result. Not only do others influence our emotions, research has shown that our social networks (both real and digital) can have beneficial effects to our diet and exercise routines, thereby improving our overall health.

A good crowd can be hard to find

Just a few select people in your inner circle who have a positive approach to life can make all the difference. A great example of this is in Okinawa, Japan. Here, they have a long standing tradition of grouping 5 young people together to form a “moai.” These youngsters make a commitment to each other for life. They offer emotional support, share life experience and even financial assistance when needed. Some moai’s have lasted over 90 years, and the tradition is still going strong. The science as a result makes for pretty amazing reading. Okinawa is regarded as a longevity hotspot, where people are proven to live longer and better lives than almost anyone in the world. The average life expectancy for a woman living there is 90 years old! That’s 18 years over the worldwide average and 9 years beyond the current UK average.

What does this have to do with Outdoor Team Activities?

Outdoor activities offer young people the perfect opportunity to meet others who they may not normally choose to interact with. Giving them the chance to complete a task or challenge together creates a shared bond. This can facilitate friendships that extend far beyond a single day or week. How strong this bond is requires one thing from all participants: courage. It can be very difficult for youngsters to show vulnerability. In an age where we are encouraged to “Live your best life,” many feel the pressure of presenting the perfect image of themselves and their lifestyle.

Outdoor challenges offer a chance to be imperfect – to be covered in mud, scared still at the end of a rope, frustrated at a problem solving game or soaked through in a boat with others who are in the same position. Vulnerability in a shared situation creates trust and it is this trust that ultimately leads to fulfilling relationships.

Get In Touch

WiseUp Team Building’s extensive range of activities and challenges are specially designed to encourage students of all ages to get to know each other as they work together to solve tasks.  Please use our easy enquiry form to see what we can offer your learners, or give us a call on 01732 822753.

COMPETITION: HEALTHY VERSUS UN-HEALTHY

Richard Wise

The debate around competition has been going for many years – should children and young people participate individually and in teams against one another? With some schools banning ‘traditional’ events such as sports days in a move to reduce what is seen as the negative impact of losing, is this the best way to help or are students ultimately the ones losing out?

UNHEALTHY COMPETITION

Competition has long been a part of most young people’s school day experience – from sports teams and debating societies to inter-house championships and student performance league tables. But over the years, the argument against these kinds of competitive activities has grown, largely centered around some of the psychological repercussions of being in a potentially cut throat environment. Unhealthy competition can lead to young people suffering from insecurity and low self esteem as a result of the strong need for validation and attention they may receive when they win at something. This can also lead to cases of severe magnification, where seemingly unimportant events are treated by students as the most crucial happening, and should they not achieve a top result, deep depressions can follow. These are extreme examples, but what is interesting to note is that it is not the activities themselves which cause the most harm, but rather young people’s perception of winning and losing.

HEALTHY COMPETITION

Whether we want them to or not, people begin competing from a relatively young age – youngsters always want to be the one at the front of the line or the one chosen to feed the class pet. And this follows them throughout their lives into adulthood – indeed, job searching is one of the biggest competitions many of us face, and it’s this that forms the argument for keeping competition in schools. The important element for educators and coaches is to focus students’ attention on the values of healthy competition. Realising that it’s okay to not win all the time and to see that as an opportunity to improve one’s personal level. Showing good sportsmanship towards fellow team mates and opposing teams improves positive communication skills and fosters friendships. Learning respect and humility from following referees decisions, and accepting that often players don’t have all the correct information to make a judgement call whilst the referee does.

Ultimately, what benefits students will get from competing in teams and individually lies largely with the supervisors around them – teachers, coaches, instructors and parents in particular. As long as the focus is on the positive elements, and any negativity is taken as a chance to be built upon, young people can learn and thrive whilst having fun.

ARE WISEUP ACTIVITY DAYS COMPETITIVE?

Here at WiseUp, we do enjoy a bit of healthy competition. However, all of our activity days are structured in such a way that they can be run to suit the needs of each different school we work with, so if a school wants the focus of the day to be on a different aspect, that is absolutely not a problem. Our Activities Manager works closely with the lead teacher prior to every event to ensure the aims of the school are met.

GET IN TOUCH 

If you would like to hear how our team can provide full or half day team building events at your school site, please use our easy enquiry form or give us a call. 

EMPLOYABILITY SKILLS

Richard Wise

With many students getting ready to sit their final Exams, thoughts of full time employment will already be on many of their minds. However, academic excellence won’t necessarily guarantee anyone their dream career, especially in today’s highly competitive job market. More and more, companies are placing a higher value on candidates employability skills, with many admitting they are more desirable than top grades.

WHAT ARE EMPLOYABILITY SKILLS ?

Often referred to as “soft skills,” these are the traits that employers most want to see in job applicants. In a report commissioned by the Edge Foundation entitled “Employers Perceptions of the employability skills of new graduates” team work and problem solving were the top desirable traits listed. Others, such as leadership, flexibility, communication and good interpersonal skills are all essential in order to succeed in the 21st century work force. As an ever growing number of companies re-format their current employees into new team-focused dynamics rather than the traditional hierarchal structure, school and university graduates hoping to join their ranks really need to be able to show their strengths as a team player.

HOW CAN WISEUP HELP? 

As our company name implies, team building is what we do! Our highly engaging activity days have a strong focus on improving students’ interactions with one another as they complete a range of physically and mentally challenging tasks. Only by working together as a cohesive unit will teams be able to complete our activities, communicating ideas and supporting one another throughout the event. Each one of our team building activity days can be tailored to focus on a particular skill and link to the work environment outside of school.

GET IN TOUCH

If you would like to hear how our team can build your students soft skills base at your school site, please use our easy enquiry form or give us a call. 

5 WAYS OF FITTING IN FUN OUTDOORS TOGETHER

Richard Wise

Playing in the great outdoors has always been a big part of many people’s childhoods. Building forts. Climbing trees, looking for the perfect conker – all brilliant memories. However, a recent study found that most children now spend less time outside than prisoners, with the average amount being just 16 minutes a day! There are many different factors attributed to this, almost too many to mention, but rather than focusing on why this worrying trend is happening, we at WiseUp like to find ways to end it. One of the simplest ways to encourage children and young people to spend time out of doors is for parents, carers and guardians to do it with them. While it’s not always possible for adults to dedicate a whole day to playing outside, there are lots of ways to enjoy being out in the fresh air even for shorter periods of time.

HAVE A PICNIC MEAL OUTSIDE

We all have to eat, so why not turn an ordinary meal into something different. Pack up the pasta, wrap up the Weetabix and enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner outside.

COLLECT TREE RUBBINGS

Take a piece of paper and hold it against a tree. Use a pencil or crayon to lightly shade over the page as it is pressed up against the trunk and watch the pattern of the bark appear. Each variety of tree has a different pattern – see how many you can collect, and then investigate what trees they have come from. This can also be done with leaves!

LOOK UP TO THE SKIES

Take a few minutes on a clear night to look up at the stars and see what constellations you can find.  There are some great smartphone apps that will help by scanning the sky and giving information about the science and history of star groups. If you are really luck, you might just see a shooting star – Make a wish!

If going outside at night is not really your thing, cloud gazing can be just as much fun. Lay on your back and watch the white puffy clouds change shape – try to figure out what they are and what they are changing into. Whilst stars already have their own stories, with clouds you can indulge your imagination by making up your own about the ever-changing shapes.

CREATE NATURAL JEWELLERY

See who can create the most beautiful natural necklace, bracelet or ring. Use the traditional daisy chain method with added elements for a bit more “bling” by slitting the stem of the daisies with your thumbnail and threading them through one another. For a different look, try rolling a wide piece of sellotape loosely around your wrist with the sticky side up. Then go searching for pieces of coloured leaves, feathers and flowers from the ground to stick on (Please don’t pick anything that is still living – we don’t want to hurt the trees or plants!)

TRY GROWING YOUR OWN PLANT

Get a container, a bit of soil, some seeds and away you go! Sunflowers are a great one to start with, or how about some yummy herbs, like parsley, basil or rosemary? Small pots are easily maintained on a balcony or even tucked to  one side of a communal garden space. Even better, if you live near a local park, speak to the gardeners there about helping to water the plants or pot new seedlings.

GET IN TOUCH

No matter what the size or location of your site, WiseUp are able to bring a variety of activities and challenges to get young people out into the fresh air, no matter what the weather. Our events are designed to fit around normal school timetables, scout group meetings and afte school or weekend activity groups, meaning no disruption to normal schedules. Please feel free to give us a call, drop us an email or use our easy enquiry form to see what we can offer.

LOSING OUR TOUCH

Richard Wise

Imagine going to the doctor with a simple cut and not being able to have it stitched. Not because of a lack of materials, but because the doctor simply wasn’t able to perform the procedure. Roger Kneebone, a professor of surgical education at Imperial College London, thinks this is precisely what may happen in the not too distant future. Whilst the academic standard of medical students remains high, he says that many now lack the physical dexterity to perform even simple medical tasks with their hands. This “lack [of] tactile general knowledge,” he believes, comes from students spending too much time in front of 2 dimensional devices and not enough time handling materials, cutting textiles or learning woodwork. Whilst these are skills that many of us learned at school without even realising it, learners are now leaving education “less competent and less confident” in using their hands.

How can traditional outdoor education help?

From simple tasks such as gathering materials for building shelters and foraging for berries, to the more complex elements of wood whittling and snare setting, almost all bushcraft and survival skills require hands on, practical application. Here are just a few more examples of how these kinds of sessions will improve learnings finger co-ordination:

Fire lighting

Beginning with collecting tinder, kindling and different sizes and varieties of fuel, setting and lighting a fire is a great way to work on hand-eye coordination and skills. Laying the beginning of a fire requires gentle and strategic placement of materials to allow for the flow of oxygen and the growth of the fire. Using traditional firelighting techniques such as hand and bow drillsor a flint and steel exercises the hands and fingers in a range of different ways.

knot tying

From simple hitches and stopper knots to more complicated quick release and alpine knots, rope tying is the perfect way to improve learners finger finesse (try tying a one handed bowline!) Sessions such as shelter and raft building utilize these skills in a practical and fun way.

Basic tools

Creating tools often requires just as much skill as using them. Handmade cooking utensils such as spoons present a fantastic and useful whittling activity. For even more of a challenge, hand crafted musical instruments and pencils encourage prolonged use for those with an artistic streak.

GET IN TOUCH

Here at WiseUp, we believe in students getting physically stuck into as many challenges as possible. Our extensive range of bushcraft sessions cover all of the skills discussed in this article and more. Our teambuilding activities encourage learners to use a variety of equipment to practically solve a range of challenges. To find out how we can helo your students improve their hands on skills, please use our easy enquiry form or give us a call.