Uncommon Ground

Self: Friends and Relationships
12-14 years, 14-16 years
Anticipate Time
1.5 hours min
2-5, 5-15, 15-30
Assertiveness, Respect, Responsibility, Acceptance


Pathfinders play a couple of games and learn about peer pressure, including 5 steps to resisting peer pressure. They finish by writing a poem for their Journal.

Through participation in this Pursuit, the Pathfinder will:

  • Contribute to the group process
  • Analyse peer pressure situations
  • Participate in games
  • Recall ways to deal with peer pressure


Scripture Focus

Memory Verse

John 15:19
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

This poem is a call for all who read it to reject the pressure to conform to the superficial values imposed upon us by this world; and to claim a more solid place to stand. The place I choose may not be so easy, but at least it will be mine. It will a place of dedication in my heart and a place of action in my life. It will be God’s place. And in this world, that is “uncommon ground”.

Uncommon Ground
When the lies of the deceiver
Mask the trust of the believer

When faith is left standing all alone
And when plastic imitations
Lead to empty destinations
I look inside and there’s no one home

I’ll stand. I’ll stand on Uncommon Ground

I don’t like the taste
Of those Hollywood attempts
To solve the deepest mystery of life
With their feel-good conclusions
And their half-an-hour solutions
I’m left with pain that cuts like a knife

I stand… on uncommon ground. 
I stand… on uncommon ground. 

This is my rock. Here’s where I stand
Believing with my heart and my hands

So I’m left with all my choices
And the call of many voices
How can I decide which one is real
I think comfort is an enemy
It chokes the very heart of me

I long to come away and be still

I’ll stand. I’ll stand on Uncommon Ground


  1. Make up a quiz on the ‘5 Steps’.
  2. Photocopy the 5 Steps and any other portion of Appendix for your use as you lead in this Pursuit.
  3. Each of the 5 Steps will need to be copied for a small group of Pathfinders.
  • Blackboard or butcher’s paper plus writing tools.
  • Copies of the Appendix material
  • Minties as prizes


1. Begin by playing the following game that can demonstrate peer pressure. 
Who’s the Leader?
This is a game played with the whole group seated in a circle. One person leaves the group, and while he/she is gone, a leader is selected in the circle. The absent person must determine who it is when they return and stand in the middle of the circle. The leader will start some sort of rhythmic action (like clapping) before they return. Once the person is in the middle, the leader will change actions and rhythms, trying not to let the person in the middle see it change. When they guess it, let someone else have a go.

  • How did it feel to be in the middle and not know what everyone else knew? Is it easier to be in the group or in the middle?

Note that peer pressure occurs when a person feels like they need to belong. It is sometime difficult to work who the real leader is in a group.

  • Can you think of any examples of times when there is peer pressure, but you don’t really know where exactly it is coming from?

2. Note that peer pressure is not always bad. 

  • Can you think of times when peer pressure is a good thing? Peer pressure is a normal part of growing up and life. We want to ‘fit in’ with our family and friends. We usually want approval from the people who are important to us.
  • Have you ever done something dumb or silly when you were with a group of friends that you wouldn’t normally do? Let them share some stories. Draw their attention to ways that peer pressure sometimes pushes us to do well or be involved in good things, as well as sometimes getting us to do un-smart things! Ask: What does this tell you about how important it is to choose good friends?

3. Play another game to illustrate how hard it is to stand when you think something is right:
The group is standing in an open space in a room. Everyone closes their eyes and the game leader silently selects one person to be the secret ‘killer’. Then everyone opens their eyes and begin shaking hands with each other saying, ‘hello, how are you?’ Everyone keeps doing this EXCEPT the killer who, when shaking hands, extends his/her trigger finger and presses into the other person’s forearm. This is a secret signal that the person has been ‘killed’. The person will then wait a few moments until a couple more people shake hands with him and then ‘die’ a dramatic and loud death and lay down on the floor! As the ‘killer’ kills people, and they die, it is the job of anyone left alive to guess who the killer is. They must stop the game by saying loudly, “I want to make an accusation!”. Then one other person must stand next to them as a ‘witness’ and the person guesses who the killer is. If they get it right, they have won the game. If they guess wrong, both the person making the accusation and the witness are ‘dead’ too.


  • How hard is it to stand alone for something when no one else is?
  • How does that relate to peer pressure? The witness had to stand with a friend, even though they didn’t know if he/she was right. How does that happen sometimes in real life? Hand out or read the poem ‘Uncommon Ground’ (Spiritual focus).
  • Is it hard for a Christian to stand for what is right in this world? What is the ‘uncommon ground’ that you sometimes stand for?

4. Read: Peer Pressure – just say no? (Appendix) Ask for ideas. Then read the next situation about the possible consequences to peer pressure. Don’t read the consequences listed, but ask for consequences for what might happen if you give in to negative peer pressure. Have Pathfinders come up and write the list on butcher’s paper or on the board.

5. Divide the group into 5 sections and photocopy the five steps to handling peer pressure. (See Appendix) Give one step to each group and give them each a ‘section’ of the hall in which to portray their step, using either a story, a play, a song, or just an explanation. Encourage them to be creative. Everyone in the group must be involved in some way. Give them at least 15 minutes to work on it, and then have a ‘concert’ of the five steps with each group jumping up to their section of the hall in turn.

6. Finish by having a quiz on the five steps with some Minties (or such) as prizes. Then ask Pathfinders to find a quiet spot and write their own poem about standing on ‘uncommon ground’ and resisting negative peer pressure in their lives. These poems can be entered in their Journals.


Debrief for this Pursuit will occur throughout the Pursuit.



Peer Pressure – just say no?

Picture in your mind your best friend asking you to do something that you know is wrong. It doesn’t matter if it’s cheating on a test, shoplifting, drinking alcohol, trying drugs, breaking curfew, skipping class, or something even worse. You’d never come up with the idea yourself. But here you are, actually considering doing it!

Think you’ll never be in that situation? Remember, most teens that make a bad choice with serious consequences do it with their friends, not some stranger that they just met for the first time. The next time you read in the newspaper about a teenager dying in an alcohol related accident, check to see if the article says that the people in the car were strangers or childhood buddies. It’s the same every time! Very few young people actually know a drug dealer, but almost all know a friend or acquaintance that always “has a little extra” to sell.

So how well does “Just say ‘no’ and walk away” work when it’s your best buddy or girlfriend that wants you to go along…?

“Come on, everyone else is! We’ll look stupid if we don’t…”

Sometimes friends can convince us to do good things. On the other hand, they can also talk us into doing things we shouldn’t. When we give in to peer pressure to make poor choices, we risk small and large consequences. In the worst cases, we can affect a person for their lifetime, maybe ourselves too.

Here’s some consequences that we might choose when making a bad decision:

· If you do drugs when you are underage, you could get sent to jail or juvenile hall. Or the drugs could hurt you. 
· If your parents found out you could get grounded for a long time. 
· If you were fighting you could get hurt. Or, if you hurt or killed someone, you would have to live with the consequences the rest of your life. 
· You can gain friends if you do something that someone wants you to do. However, you can also lose friends if that friend thinks that what you did is bad. 
· If your school found out about any of these, you could get detention or suspended for a long time. 
· You could leave bad impressions with other people you like if you do bad things.

Can you think of anything else?

No one thinks that something bad will happen to them, but sometimes there’s too much at stake to take a chance. Is your friend really thinking about what is best for you? Maybe you should take charge of the situation…


Learn The 5 StepsTo handling Peer Pressure


“How do I stay out of trouble without losing my friends or becoming the biggest geek on earth?”

It’s not easy but memorising and rehearsing these five steps will work for you. Perhaps it will save your life…

Step 1: Ask questions

Step 2: Call it what it is

Step 3: State the consequences

Step 4: Get a better idea

Step 5: Move it, sell it, and leave the door open

Step 1: Ask questions

No one ever asked their friend to get arrested, get expelled from school, get grounded, get addicted to a drug, get pregnant, or die in an auto accident. But these are some of the things that have happened to people that allowed peer pressure and fear of not being cool push them into making dumb choices.

“We’re all going over to Rebecca’s house later tonight, wanna come?”

Sounds innocent enough. Sure, I’ll go. But do I really know what’s going to happen? If you don’t know the details, ASK!

Try questions like these if you’re not sure about what’s really going on:

· “What are we going to do?” 
· “Who’ll be there?” 
· “How will we get there?” 
· “Why?” 
· “Do your parents know?” 
· “What is it?” 
· “Is that allowed?” 
· “Who’s paying?” 
· “What time will we get home?”

These are just some starters, ask your own questions if these don’t do the job!

“Ask questions about where you are going and/or what you will be doing there. Make sure you know everything about it, or do not go. Make sure it is legal. Do not violate the rights of others. Do not just go along because you think it is cool.”

Step 2: Call it what it is

Wow! Isn’t it amazing what you can learn with one little question? Now you know that the party at Rebecca’s house won’t have any adults, and someone is supposed to bring alcohol. Or that trip to the Quick-stop is really a plan to shoplift some snacks. Maybe the “help” that your friend wants is to cheat on an assignment or test.

Don’t let your friend sugar-coat the facts. Make them be honest by calling it what it is. Smoking is bad for anyone and illegal for minors. Underage drinking is unhealthy and illegal, drinking and driving is just plain stupid (as well as illegal). Stealing is wrong! If your friend is too stupid to know these things, then they need you to point it out for them! A person that uses nice words for bad things is trying to hide something, don’t let them!

“When a friend asks you to do something, decide what it is. If they offer you to steal a pop you could say,”That’s stealing.”Someone could ask you to do drugs “call it what it is” and say that is bad for your body.

Other examples are:

· ”That is against the law,” 
· ”We are underage.” 
· ”That’s dangerous.” 
· ”That’s against my family’s rules.”” 
· “That would be cheating.”

Remember the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes? Don’t be afraid to say the obvious.

Step 3: State the consequences

So maybe your friend isn’t the sharpest pencil in the box. If he doesn’t understand what could happen, then you owe it to him to point it out for him. This part isn’t very hard. Being as smart as you are, you’ll know exactly what the consequences are.

This is where you tell the person what could happen if you did the bad thing they wanted you to do. Like if someone asked you to drink or smoke, you would say to them what could happen if you got caught.Examples:

“We could get arrested, go to Juvi, get fined, no friends, diseases, and lose trust of friends and family”

You could also just say one consequence instead of a whole list of them.

But what if he says “Duh!” and still wants to do it? Then you need to use the next step!

Step 4: Get a better idea

If your friend still wants you to join him and do this bad thing, think quick and distract him. Sometimes all that’s needed is a better idea, an alternative. No one knows your best friend like you do. What does she like to do the best? Listen to music, bake cookies, play a game, call a friend on the phone, play video or computer games, watch a movie, shoot baskets? Any of these is probably better than the bad idea. This can be the most difficult of the 5 steps sometimes. It’s probably smart to think of some “better ideas” in advance in case you won’t have time to be creative at the crucial moment.

Other ideas would be to play on the computer, play video games, make a fort, pick up trash, go to the store, go play catch.

When someone asks you to go into the woods and smoke some cigarettes they stole from their dad, you could say “Let’s build a fort instead”, or ” lets go ride mountain bikes instead”.

When someone asks you to drink a beer, you could say “Let’s get some soft drink instead”.

Step 5: Move it, sell it, and leave the door open

So your friend knows exactly what she is asking you to do, understands the consequences, and isn’t interested in your better idea. Now what? Well, she has made up her mind. The question really is what are you going to do? Are you going to make the bad choice in spite of what you know?

So far you’ve been reacting to her suggestion. Now it is time to turn the tables on her. Here’s how you’ll let her know that if she still wants to make the wrong choice, she’s risking your friendship. She’s risking being uncool.

· “Move it” – Take a step away. This body language says that you’ve made up your mind. 
· “Sell it” – Tell your friend what you are going to do, make it sound appealing and fun. 
· “Leave the door open” – Let her know that she’s welcome to join you if she changes her mind.

Here’s what it sounds like: (take step away) “Well, I’m going to go home and _________. It’d be great if you came along. If you change your mind, come over.”

Say “No. That’s not a good idea. What’s going to happen?”And then tell them they’re welcome to come back if they change their minds about something that was bad and wrong and then do something else besides bad things.

This is usually the hardest step to do. But afterwards, there’s always a great relief. You can be proud of your choice. You are in charge of the decisions you make in your life. Your friends, parents, teachers, sisters and brothers, family and God will help but in the end it’s still your choice, just like the consequences will be.

Extra Information

The Importance of Peer Pressure!

For Parents by Bruce A. Epstein, M.D.

A healthy part of every child’s development is involvement with their peers. This is especially true during adolescence as teenagers develop a sense of independence from their parents. Members of the peer group often dress alike, They talk about similar things, like the same music, laugh at the same jokes, and share secrets. Friends provide the young adult with a sounding board to test their ideas and a standard by which to judge their own physical and psychological growth. Adolescents spend much of their time away from home, whether at school, social events, or the homes of their friends, a major source of a teen’s security is usually found in the approval of their peers.

This desire to be accepted by their peers is perhaps the strongest motivating force during adolescence and it is for this reason parents should always know who their teenager is “hanging out” with. And for good reason! Often times, an anti-social peer group is associated with the things parents fear most: experimentation with sex, alcohol, or drugs.

How can parents help their children develop healthy social friendships? What can be done to achieve the delicate balance between a teenager’s need for being accepted by a group while maintaining their individuality? What can parents do to prevent their young adult from falling under the influence of a detrimental peer group? First and foremost, parents need to create strong bonds with their children long before the adolescent years. The strength of a child’s relationship with their family will directly impact on whether peer pressure will be a productive or destructive influence in the child’s life. In addition, parents need to instill in their children a strong sense of conscious with ethical and moral values that will last them a lifetime.

Parents should build up their children’s self-esteem at a very early age. Youngsters with a good self image will almost always seek out membership in more socially acceptable groups. Children who grow up with little or no self-confidence stand a greater chance of getting mixed up with antisocial peer group. These adolescents think of themselves as losers and only find acceptance in groups where other teens also feel negative about themselves. For the first time these unhappy teenagers have found a place. Unfortunately, it is with the wrong peer group.

In addition to building up self confidence, develop a sense of decision making ability in your child. Children who can make judgments for themselves are less likely to let others decide for them. Furthermore, do not be afraid to discipline your child. Setting limits tells the child that you care enough about them to say “no.” In the years ahead, it will help your children discipline themselves to say “no” to a peer who wants them to do something they know is wrong.

Teach your children to be assertive, to stand up for their beliefs, even if their ideas may be different than yours. After all, one of the goals of parenting is to raise well-adjusted, happy children who have learned to make wise and independent decisions as adults. Give your children simple sentences that they can use to say “no.” Since your children will be under pressure, keep the phrases short and simple. “You see it your way, I see it my way.” “If you are really a friend, back off.” “You must think I’m pretty dumb to fall for that one.” Maintain an open line of communication with your children. Positive discussions with your adolescents are very strong influences and send them an important message: that you care enough about them to listen to their ideas and feelings. Avoid talking down to your teenager, they want to be treated as a grown-up, so talk to them as you would another adult.

Taking an interest in your children’s activities and friends helps reduce the distance between generations. Attend their school functions, cheer at their athletic events, plan family outings and make their friends welcome at your home. Guide your child toward positive relationships outside the immediate family–even if it takes a little bit of effort to see your adolescent gets to a soccer practice, a Girl Scout meeting, or a birthday party.

And last but not least, set a good example. Adolescents sometimes learn more from what they see than what they hear. A discussion about the hazards of smoking (or drinking) will have little impact if you are smoking (or drinking) at the same time. And if you do smoke (or drink), giving it up will set a wonderful example . It will be a lesson they will never forget.

What should parents do when they feel that their adolescent is involved with the wrong peer group? Parents should first look inward and determine why they do not like their child’s friends. Is it simply because the teenager’s friends now have more influence than the parents? Remember, peers are highly influential in a teens life and typically carry more weight and power than the parents. With the clues of falling academic performances and personality changes, should one suspect drinking or drugs? In this case, parents need to take quick action to prevent further eroding of your teen’s values. Yet being too adamant or too restrictive can backfire, pushing the adolescent even closer to the negative peer group. “Don’t quit and be immobilized by fear,” advises St. Petersburg psychologist Dr. Herb Goldstein. “If you see your child slipping away, take the risk by being assertive and firm. This can be done as long as the lines of communication remain open. Use logic but be sensitive and thoughtful. All other issues should be put on the ‘back burner’ until this critical problem is resolved. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you see your teen’s peers destroying what you have nurtured in terms of values, attitudes, and life goals.”

Parents need to remember that when an adolescent’s challenges their parent’s tastes and opinions, it is part of their young adult’s efforts to shape their own identity. Parents should realize that there will be conflicts about minor issues, such as hair styles, stereo volume, junk food, and makeup. However, if parents start major battles over these less critical issues, they may inadvertently push them towards a peer group that is likewise alienated from their parents.

Many parents tend to view “peer pressure” as a serious infection that slowly poisons the mind of their innocent, lovable teenager. But “peer pressure” does not necessarily have to be something to be feared like the plague. It potentially has as many positive factors as negative ones. Since children tend to “hang out” with other kids that reward their behavior, a constructive, goal-setting, positive-thinking group of peers will lead children in a similar manner. Examples include Scout groups, school leadership organizations and philanthropic work, such as volunteering at hospitals and nursing homes.

In today’s world, peer groups and peer pressure are powerful influences on adolescent behavior. When a young person becomes overly dependent upon negative peer groups, the results can be serious. Like an unbalanced boat losing its center of gravity, the adolescent can lose their sense of right and wrong and get tragically involved with drugs and alcohol.

The best way to prevent the negative effects of peer pressure is to build up your child’s self esteem at an early age and provide your adolescent with a loving and caring environment at home. Love your adolescent, despite the loud music, strange hair styles, and tied up phone. And keep the lines of communication open. This sometimes requires a real commitment on a parent’s part, but it is well worth the effort. Your adolescent will then be able to step around the landmines of negative peer pressure and develop into a productive member of society.

As a reminder, this column is being written to draw attention to the issues discussed, and should not be relied upon as medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician