Trust Us

Self: Friends and Relationships
10-12 years, 12-14 years, 14-16 years
Anticipate Time
1 hour min
5-15, 15-30
Faith, Love, Reliability, Trust, Acceptance


Pathfinders engage in a number of trust exercises as a rapport-building strategy.

Through participation in this Pursuit, the Pathfinder will:

  1. Cooperate in team activities
  2. Display commitment to the success of the group

Scripture Focus

Memory Verse

Psalm 56:11
In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

Trust is a powerful and essential educational tool; it is the key to personal involvement…” Trust precedes any growth in personal confidence. “An individual will seldom take a physical or emotional chance if they perceive callousness and unreasonable risk as part of that risk-taking. A group surrounded with positive experiences and successes will experience trust growing apace with personal confidence. Trust… is gained with patience, thoughtfulness and care over a period of time, and can be damaged or lost in a second by carelessness or inconsiderate behaviour. Cultivate and protect the trust that an individual offers and shares.” 1


All materials will need to be organised, ready for use. The obstacle course for the Sherpa Walk will need to be established before the Pursuit begins.

  • Trust Fall and Trust Dive both need a platform from which to jump. A rock, tree stump, veranda will serve well. The platform needs to be approximately one metre high.
  • Sherpa Walk: blindfold for each participant.


Talk to your group about the importance of trust. Share a personal experience when your trust in someone was betrayed in your own life (or ask a number of your Pathfinder counsellors to share).
Ask: “How much do you trust us? Let’s find out!”

NB. Please read the Safety information outlined in the Appendix and complete the practice exercises BEFORE beginning this Pursuit.

1. Trust Fall
Participants form two lines, facing each other, with arms outstretched, in a line, next to each other side by side to form a secure landing area. (Do not allow ‘catchers’ to grasp hands or wrists: or knocking heads will result!) One participant stands on a platform, stump, ladder rung etc, and falls backwards into the arms of the prepared group. There should be at least 10 – 12 ‘catchers’ standing on level ground, and the platform should be no higher than 1.5 metres. NB. There is a danger in starting the fall from too high a position.

The ‘faller’ will make a backwards fall into the waiting ‘ladder’ of hands. The faller should keep their arms held close by their sides and their body rigid in the fall, ie. not bending at the waist. If the falling person does bend, a significant area of force will be placed on a small area, thus making it difficult for the catchers.

For extra safety, a platform ‘spotter’ should stand next to the person falling, to rearrange catchers if there are significant size or strength discrepancies in opposing catchers. This person will ask the catchers if they are ready and will direct them to watch the falling person.

NB. Facilitators need to keep an eye on proceedings. Where the weight / size of the person falling is obviously disproportionate to the strength of the catchers, do not extend the concept of trust too far. Ask all catchers to remove watches and jewelry items, together with any large belt buckles, pencils, pens, keys etc from pockets.

Have the participants alternate their position in the standing line. To involve a group larger than 10-12, ask the fallen person to continue to hold himself / herself rigid so they can be “passed” along the entire line of catchers. Be aware that trust can be diminished rapidly at any stage during this exercise. Try to achieve 100% participation in this activity, however avoid pushing or coercing at all costs. Allow the falling person to stand at the platform for only a few minutes before falling. If they are not comfortable doing the fall, move on to the next person.

2. Trust Dive
This is an extension of the trust fall, however, rather from being a backward fall, it is a frontward leap. From a height of about 1.5 meters, a student dives forward into the arms of 8-10 spotters. Ensure that the diving platform is secure. (Back of a truck, cut-off tree stump, low porch, or a well-positioned rock would serve well.) Tell the diver s/he should aim for an invisible point above the heads of the catchers, in order to land in an easily handled position: flat out, arms extended over head. Discourage dives into the pool.

Arrange the catchers so they are not so close to the faller that they restrict his/her leap. The catchers stand as they did for the trust fall, except their bodies are turned halfway towards the diver, with one foot moved toward the centre of the catching line. This angled body orientation enables more absorption of the momentum of the diver.

3. Sherpa Walk
Note to Facilitators. Blindfolds are needed for this activity (one for each participant).

  • Cut the blindfolds long enough so they can be easily tied.
  • Offer clean blindfolds for hygienic reasons.
  • Use cloth that does not admit any light.
  • Have more cloth than you anticipate needing.

Preparation: Prepare an obstacle course – bashing through bushes, crawling under and over something, walking next to water (splashing threateningly) passing over and down a small drop, etc).

This is a follow- the- leader type activity which will develop trust and communication. Ask the group (no more than 15) to tie on the blindfolds. Mention the high trust level of this activity. Share a story line that gives this sightless state a purpose, such as: Your travellers’ group has elected to tour an exotic and politically forbidden area of the Asian continent. The charter flight, aboard Xanth Airlines, was difficult to obtain (visa problems) and prohibitively expensive. However, because of personal wealth and governmental leniency, the plane and your group has arrived in the country of Ultimo Sotto Voce (to the strains of their National Anthem: a 12-note dirge in 4/4 time repeated in endless succession)… Considering their removed location on the continent, it would come as no surprise that their meagre language (2 vowels and 5 consonants) is incomprehensible to your group. Sadly, about a decade ago, the populace became afflicted with leprosy…

With such a contaminated environment, explain to the blindfolded travellers that two Sotto Voce citizens will lead them through a sacred area to where the tour bus will pick them up. 

Lightly tap two members of the group on the shoulder, and tell them to remove their blindfolds and come with you so that you can show the route through the ‘sacred ground’. Explain to the remainder of the group that you will return shortly and they should use this time to prepare for sightless travelling. (Joining of hands will best facilitate this).

Explain to the leaders and the group that naturally there will be no communication with the two guides (remember their 2 vowel and 5 consonants?) and they will not be touching any group member (due to their leprosy). Give the two guides a few moments to discuss their communication lingo. Assure the group that you and another official spotter will silently attend the walk also and assist where necessary. As the tour guides approach, say: The next semi-human sound you hear will come from your Sotto Voce guides.

NB. As the walk proceeds, with what becomes a very verbal group of travellers, watch for potential danger, and place yourself in a good spotting position. Point out the route to the guides if they seem lost. End the walk in an area which allows the group to be physically close. Leaders may walk the group back through the track after blindfolds have been removed to allow for spontaneous sharing of reactions and sensations.

4. Squat Thrust
Two participants face each other in a squatting position and try to knock each other off balance by placing their palms together and pushing. If either partner moves a foot, they lose. 

5. Slo – Mo
Rather than squatting, two partners stand, toe to toe, palm to palm. Each partner tries to achieve the same result: an off balanced step, however, the movements are done in slow motion. No fast movements are allowed. (It feels good to win, but it also feels good to cooperate with the partner to extend the length of the activity.)


Leaders, be sure to follow up on discussing when and how the Pathfinders saw the memory text in action throughout this Pursuit. 
Select from the questions below:

  • What types of trust exist?
  • On a scale of 1 – 10, what do you think is your personal trust quotient?
  • To what extent could you trust your partner not to cheat or be ‘underhanded’ in Squat Thrust and Slo-Mo?
  • Can you think of anyone who you used to trust but don’t anymore?


  • Why is it so difficult to trust?
  • What possible benefits in life come to you when you trust others?
  • What is the negative kickback of trusting others?
  • When trust is broken, what can result?
  • Who controls the response to broken trust? (Yourself)
  • What feelings/sensations did you experience in Sherpa Walk?
  • How difficult was this walk?
  • Did you cheat? If so, why? What does it tell you about yourself?


  • To what extent do you think you are known as a person that can be trusted?
  • In what ways have you let people down in the past?
  • How can you become more trustworthy?


  • Share a situation that could happen this week which would challenge you to be trustworthy and give some possible ways of responding?
  • Which would be the most trustworthy response?


1“Silver Bullets. A Guide to Initiative Problems, Adventure Games and Trust Activities” by Karl Rohnke (1984) Kendall / Hunt Publishing Company, Iowa p 79
2 Ibid p. 85
3 Ibid p. 87

Safety First
NB. Please read and act on this information BEFORE proceeding with this Pursuit.

Learning to fall is not just a ‘trust’ exercise, it is a safety imperative. 
“Learning to fall:
1. … increases the safety margin for participants in risk-oriented activities, such 
as soccer, bicycle riding, ropes courses and walking to school;
2. …decreases the possibility of injury as the result of a fall;
3. …develops increased confidence in one’s physical and psychological ability to 
overcome problem situations. 
Injury resulting from forward or backward moving falls, usually is caused by friction on the palms and body (abrasions), or by sudden absorption of the shock with the hands (sprained and broken wrists). 
The falling and rolling technique described here reduces the potential for injury. Confidence that a fall can be handled safely also results in an increased personal commitment to attempt tasks or games where there is some risk of a moving fall.
A proven way to escape or minimise injury in a moving fall is to use a modified forward or backward shoulder roll. The shoulder roll is spontaneously initiated as the result of a fall combined with some forward or backward movement (trip, push, jump).” 2

Forward Roll Practice
Demonstrate falling from a standing or squatting position and continue into a front shoulder roll. This roll is neither a somersault, or a lateral roll, but rather, a forty-five degrees combination of the two. The roll can use either the right shoulder or the left shoulder. If rolling on the right shoulder:
• The left hand is extended as a guide (not a brace). 
• The right hand (palm down) and arm are extended in front of the individual.
• The right elbow is slightly bent as the forearm provides a surface for the beginning of the roll.
• The performer looks under his left armpit, ensuring that his head is correctly positioned, and continues a forward rolling movement onto the right shoulder in tuck position and finally into the squat position.

Backward Roll Practice
“The legs begin to bend as the body turns slightly towards the hip that is going to have first contact with the ground. Hands guide the tucked body as the roll is completed over the shoulder on the same side as the hip that made first contact.” 3

The forward and backward roll can be practiced first from a squatting or standing position, and eventually from a jog or slow run. 

Practice Activities

  • Ask the participants to stand in two lines, facing each other. Each participant should have a “partner” opposite at arms length away. Explain that a spontaneous fall and roll can be accomplished or initiated more easily by someone other than the faller. A two-handed “compassionate” shove at the shoulders can activate such a fall and roll sequence. Partners will alternate the pushing. The push should be delivered on command. Demonstrate what you think is a push of reasonable strength.
  • Ask the group to form a line in front of you with their faces away from you. There should be approximately 2 metres between individuals. Ask them to close their eyes. Explain that you are going to walk behind them, and indiscriminately give a gentle push to the shoulders of some, thus initiating a fall and roll sequence. Invite any who do not wish to participate to stand aside. Walk quietly and give a controlled push to the shoulder blades of random individuals.