Cell Phone Hide-and-Seek!

Does it really make sense to play hide-and-seek with young adults? Well, let me tell you about the Independence Class that Kim Evans and I run at The Community School. In our group this season, we have four individuals ranging in age from 16-20. All are in various stages of transition to adulthood. Two are trying to finish high school. One is getting ready to start a new job. One of them has a driver’s license. All of them still live at home. All of them sometimes struggle to connect positively to other people, to manage their anxiety effectively, and to engage in constructive, collaborative problem-solving. Each week, we meet with the group on Tuesday to plan an outing. On Friday we spend two and a half hours out in the community carrying out our plan, or some version of it.

Most recently, we planned an outing to Dancing Goats Coffee and Pastries A Go-Go to purchase several pastries for a comparison tasting. This challenge involved navigating to the specific addresses and interacting with the retailers to purchase the items. Turns out there’s a lot involved in communicating what you want clearly (which might include asking clarifying questions), knowing how and when to leave a tip, and managing the personal space boundaries that inevitably arise in a popular Decatur eatery.

We started the outing with a game of “cell phone hide and seek.” In this game, the group splits up, and one half heads out into the community to a secret location, then texts or calls the other half with a clue to that location. In the first round, the clue was, “Libby Is Biting Rabbits And Rosemary, Yum!” (Check the first letter of each word for the answer.) The seekers had to search multiple floors of the location before finding the hiders.

post-pastry-taste-test-2In round two, the texted clue was, “I like mine like I like my friends….not too bitter.” With a little texting back-and-forth, the seekers were able to find the spot (answer at the end of this post).

This simple game turned out to be the highlight of the day. It challenged the participants to be creative, getting them thinking about how their audience would interpret the clues. It got everyone thinking about how to hide in a city, and provided a natural way for everyone to explore the area a little more deeply. And, it created wonderful opportunities for cooperation and shared fun. All of us enjoyed it a lot.

For many of our participants, it can be hard to maintain consistent motivation in the face of the various challenges they face. When problem-solving skills and emotional regulation are inconsistent, it can be hard to manage the everyday tasks of adulthood. Often, we find that the people we work with have retreated from life, which only further atrophies their capabilities. At TCS, we love finding creative, playful, relationship-building ways to strengthen these capabilities. And cell phone hide-and-seek is one good way to do it, especially when it leads us to the library followed by Starbucks.

Dave Nelson

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