A review of three web sites
in the SiteFinder Directory
W h a t ? N o r o p e s c o u r s e !
====>> What do the Grand Canyon, yachting and
'Hacky Sacking' have in common?
I'll spoil the suspense and tell you. They are all sources of
inspiration for 3 distinct 'approaches' to active learning. Each
'approach' also has a place on the web where you can find out
more. 'Approach' is an understatement - the experience, thinking
and track records of each way of working/living is truly
- Daniel Botkin's 'Footbag Peace Initiative'
- Dick Pohl's 'LeadYourShip'
- 'The Creative World of Coleman Wheeler'
The educational philosophy of each site is very different. The
variety spans community work, leadership training and youth
development. So across these 3 web sites, there's something for
All 3 sites convey a strong sense of energy, idealism and
mission. Their visions of a less violent and more caring world
are rooted in practice. All are doers, and all give inspiring
accounts of *what* they do, *how* they do it and *why* they do
It may at first seem as if there are 3 ready-made recipes on
offer. It is true that you will find sample programmes, but these
are simply examples of what is possible. In all three cases,
learners influence, shape and develop what happens rather than
following a pre-set journey laid out by an 'experience provider'.
Yes, there are connections between these 'approaches'. But these
are 3 highly individualistic sites. Each site describes 3 very
DIFFERENT ways of engaging people in developmental experiences,
making use of ...
The vastness of the Great Outdoors
The tight metaphors of work simulation on a boat
The street appeal and intensity of a Footbag work-out
What these 3 kinds of experience appear to have in COMMON is
they are intrinsically rewarding
they are out of the ordinary
they inspire a renewed sense of commitment to self, others and
All 3 websites are worth a visit:
by potential customers
by people wondering how you do experiential learning without a
and by curious people like you!
====>> W h a t . m a k e s . a . g r e a t . w e b . s i t e ?
Design features that stand out in the three websites reviewed:
Personality comes across loud and clear - thanks to punchy
messages, photos of each author (2 have 'action' shots), and page
designs that stand out.
Clients' perspectives seem essential. The length and depth of the
Footbag testimonials makes this far more than a 'credibility'
exercise - they provide real insights into the Footbag phenomena.
3) Attention Grabbing <<<<<<<<< :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)
Research may say that nothing beats black on white for ease of
reading, but you need to grab people's attention before they want
to settle down to a good read.
'Creative World ...' is probably the most colourful site in the
SiteFinder directory. It not only grabs your attention. It leaves
you with lasting images.
'LeadYourShip' grabs attention through word play - and arouses
you with music from Vangelis.
'Footbag' makes impact with street lingo and the fonts to go
4)Things to do on site (and 'free gifts')
Coleman's site offers three 'contests': 'The Experiential
Explorers', 'Where in the World? (photo recognition)' and 'The
Call of the Wild' (a quiz about the Great Outdoors).
Dick invites you to print out the 'Integrated Health Profile'
questionnaire to check the balances in your life.
Daniel provides patterns and ''simple, step by step
instructions'' on how to sew your own footbag!
These 3 experiential educators expect you to get involved!
>>>>>>>>>>> Part 2 Starts Here <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<.
=====> Daniel Botkin's 'Footbag Peace Initiative'
Footbag (or 'Hacky Sack') is a street game played around the
world. Footbag is an ancient game. It is also a popular modern
game. It is accessible to all levels of play (anyone, any time,
anywhere). The web site shows how the game generates interest
wherever it is played - on the street, in the office, at home,
or up a mountain (Everest!).
Footbag can be used both as a starting point and as a focal point
for community work - especially with young people at risk. But
Footbag is more than a crowd-puller or icebreaker. One hour of
'kicking' generates many rewards of its own.
My 3 favourite Footbag pages:
1) The home page:
a picture of Daniel with a footbag 'hoofing it at Worlds 98'
followed by a fun and informative intro with hyperlinks to other
pages - a simple, story-based way of indexing the site.
2) The Footbag Mentors Project:
shows how this game can lead into serious youth work - without
losing the spirit of the game, and while also spreading footbag
and non-violence via young newly trained 'Footbag Mentors'.
3) Footbaggers' Stories and Testimonials About Our Great Sport.
These testimonials make compelling reading. Unlike other
testimonial pages that are so so predictable, these stories have
real depth and insights. I have never kicked a footbag (what an
admission!) but while reading this page I got a real feeling for
how and why this game (and all that goes with it) works so well.
Daniel writes: ''Unlike the vast majority of competitive sports,
footbag is intrinsically cooperative, strongly reinforcing mutual
support and win-win thinking, precisely what facilitates that
'group building magic' described in the testimonials."
=====> 'Borrow a piece and make it grow.'
''This website is dedicated to the sport of "footbag" as a path
of personal and cultural healing. Harnessing my experiences as
citizen activist and emmisary and my great love for "sack", I've
been living and teaching peace for twenty years...
Footbag offers a particularly outrageous context for this work
with youth (especially at-risk). The Footbag Peace Initiative and
Mentors Project specifically offers cooperative play, leadership
and mentoring through sewing workshops and teen health, sexuality
and non-violence trainings. But footbag is healthy for all kinds
of people .... What I offer here is the seed, the framework of a
program. Maybe you already have your own "peace initiative".
Perhaps these ideas will be useful to you or you will borrow a
piece and make it grow.''
Daniel Botkin's 'Footbag Peace Initiative'
=====> Dick Pohl's 'LeadYourShip'
Underneath Dick Pohl's eye-catching word-play (e.g. LeadYourShip,
dysNexia, Response-Ability) there is plenty of wisdom and
This is a refreshing change from adventure training organisations
that offer a predictable menu of courses described in familiar
jargon. Many companies that encourage physical risk-taking often
play safe when it comes to course design and description - not
How does *sailing* produce results that will benefit
LeadYourShip's clients? Part of the answer can be found by
viewing the testimonials page. Dick also gives a full
explanation. Here is part of it:
"Leaders desperately need a common, real-time experience to serve
as their healthy mental picture of how it works! ...
While sailing, LeadYourShip¸ style, I turn the experience of
sailing into an organization practice simulator ... Upon
discovering the places where the team is challenged to grow,
we'll create learning simulations to practice together.
I've looked everywhere in the last ten years for an experiential
simulator apart from the sailing vessel. No other experiential
learning venue (ropes course, etc.) comes close to comparing with
sail simulation outcomes!"
The site is designed to appeal to those who are:
''determined to break the disabling power of *dysNexia* and
release the power of *lagniappe*!''
You are almost certainly one of those people if you are an
enthusiastic experiential educator.
For a full explanation go to the site. For a brief explanation
*DysNexia* is coined from the word nexus, which means "an
integrated wholeness." DysNexia aptly describes the result of
being reared in a culture which places it's single focus on
fragmentation, disconnection and individuality, all at the
expense of the natural expression of loyalty and community.
*Lagniappe* is generosity, loyalty and more.
Dick's web site is itself an example of 'lagniappe'. It goes
beyond advertising and lets you in 'below decks' to get some
interesting insights into this unique approach to training and
Dick Pohl's 'LeadYourShip'
=====> 'The Creative World of Coleman Wheeler'
The Creative World of Coleman Wheeler is colourful web site of
over 50 pages. The site includes 'Nature's Classroom' and 'The
Great American Adventure Club' - Classroom-Without-Walls,
Holistic, Integrated, Experiential Learning Program for
Teenagers. My review comments are based on just some of the pages
on this large site.
Coleman says: 'My Students Always Work Directly With Me in the
Process of Turning Dreams Into Reality!' This appears to be
Coleman's 'specialism' - getting others to achieve. His own list
of personal achievements shows he knows how. And he is not
sitting back on these achievements: 'I continue my crusade to
help break down the barriers that propagate apathy and ignorance
in our world. My goal is ultimately, to effect positive social
Coleman Wheeler's 'MY PHILOSOPHY IN A NUTSHELL':
* "Believe It and Achieve It!" *
* "Reach For The Stars!" *
* "We're All in This Together!" *
* "Just Do It!" *
Unlike the other web sites reviewed here, Coleman does not focus
on one particular activity. But much of his work is in the 'Great
Outdoors' which he sees as a 'focusing agent'. He also sees the
natural environment as 'emotionally stabilizing' providing ... 'a
truly awesome laboratory with unlimited opportunities'.
The natural environment is both medium and message in Coleman's
work, but he does not trust everything to nature - his
educational philosophy is far from escapist or hands-off:
'... we must work with students and society as compassionate,
humane, unifying role models in celebration of our equally-shared
diversity. We must immerse ourselves within a wide variety of
practical in-depth HOLISTIC, INTEGRATED, EXPERIENTIAL learning
. HOLISTIC - Education addressing all aspects of the person and
society (ie. mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.)
INTEGRATED - Weaving together of all areas of the curriculum,
via the learning process, into the all-encompassing color-filled
fabric of life.
EXPERIENTIAL - Practical, first-hand learning derived from a
person's actual real life experiences.'
What does this look like on the ground? I'd love to see this
philosophy in action. The other sites reviewed here provide
alternative ways of engaging learners in practical, holistic,
'The Creative World of Coleman Wheeler'.
=====> Improving the World
Coleman includes two interesting lists on his site:
'The Characteristics of a Good Leader' (76! characteristics)
from "The One-Minute Manager" - By Kenneth Blanchard. and
'What Every Person Needs to Know' By Dr. Robert Pasick.
One of the 38 'things' you need to know is:
GET INVOLVED IN A PROJECT TO IMPROVE THE WORLD ...
All three web sites reviewed here represent 'world-improving'
projects. I have found each of them them inspirational and
informative. If you find web sites that inspire or inform you,
please write in. Recommendations from one sentence upwards are
welcome! Comment about a single page if you don't have time to
browse a whole site.
TV is for VIEWERS, the WEB is for DOERS! Get involved!
------------------------- end ------------------------
I hope you have enjoyed these reviews and are looking forward
to more reviews in the October issue.
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Copyright, 1998. Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training.
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