By Allison Croley
What have you been doing to foster community during this statewide shelter in place order? Do you have daily rituals or traditions you do with your family to keep everyone grounded?
An Outward Bound (OB) course is rich in rituals. One of them is called Chow Circle. This is when we come together as a crew, link arms, and foster a bit of reflection and community before we eat dinner. With busy work schedules and extracurricular activities, rituals can be hard for families to do in everyday life. In this time of coronavirus, commute times, extracurricular activities, and virtual learning have freed up time for all of us, leaving us time to connect as family and community.
Here are some OB-inspired ideas to create rituals in your household during this time.
On Outward Bound courses, we start the days with Morning Meeting. The flow of Morning Meeting varies from course to course, but they usually involve some kind of stretching, a recalling of dreams anyone had, and a plan for the day. Try this out at your house. Sheltering alone? I hear video chats work, too.
Set a time, preferably before people start work and/or school. Make a short flow. This can include some stretching, a hope for the day, a goal, or anything else you want to include, but it definitely should include everyone’s plan for the day. What are you going to do? When are you going to do it? When will you come back together to connect? You get the gist. Once you have a flow, make a handshake or come up with a silly phrase that marks the end of your Morning Meeting.
If Morning Meeting doesn’t sound like your jam, maybe a smorgasbord breakfast is more up your alley. On OBCA courses, we pack out a bunch of breakfast food like oatmeal, cereal, hot chocolate, powdered milk, dried fruit, peanut butter, bagels, cream cheese, etc. Every morning, we bring out all the breakfast foods and feast on whatever we want. Doing the same thing at home could be a good way to get some together time in before everyone starts their separate routines. It also encourages everyone to start their day at the same time. Routines can be so helpful!
Afternoon social distancing walk
As you can probably imagine, we walk every day on an OBCA backpacking course — so much so that simply walking becomes a sort of ritual. Since many of us are privileged to be staying home at this time, getting some fresh air and body movement in a responsible, socially distanced way is super important. Take time every afternoon, after everyone is done with work and school, to go for a neighborhood walk. You may be surprised at the conversations that happen when simply walking with others without screens to be a distraction. Just make sure you stay six feet away from anyone else you see, and if you happen to cough, cough in that elbow!
One of my favorite parts of an OB Chow Circle is appreciations. When I was growing up, my dad had us hold hands and say what we were thankful for before eating dinner. So when I started working for OB, expressing appreciations for the day, ourselves and each other before dinner felt like a little piece of home out in the field. There is a lot of research out there on the positive effects of daily gratitude, all the more important right now. This can look however you want. You can hold hands, like my family did, though if you have household members still going to work, you may want to skip the hand holding. You can stand in a circle and link arms, true OB style. You can even just take turns saying what you appreciate while sitting at the table before you eat. Whatever works for you and your household is great.
Dinner go around questions
When I instruct an OB course, I usually think of some kind of go around question I can ask the crew during dinner – especially in the first few days of course when everyone is still getting to know each other. Go around questions can be an excellent way to connect, even with people you’ve known your whole life. Here are some examples of go around questions I’ve found particularly interesting:
- If you had a billion dollars in cash, what would you do with it and why?
- What was a high point of your day? What was a low point?
- Who do you appreciate today and why?
- What is something you really miss?
- What is something you’re proud of from the last week?
Post-dinner Evening Meeting
My absolute favorite Outward Bound ritual is Evening Meeting. Because reflection is such a big part of an OB course, I find Evening Meeting a necessary piece of reflection to close out the day. Depending on the instructors, Evening Meeting can look different on each Outward Bound course. Here is my go-to Evening Meeting flow:
- Ownerships: Everybody takes one piece of positive ownership (something they did well throughout the day) and one piece of constructive ownership (something they want to own up to or something they could have done differently).
- Shout outs: Give a shout out to someone or something. This could be a family member who did something great that day. It could be someone who isn’t present who you miss or appreciate. Or it could be something as silly as shouting out the pan that made your dinner.
- Quote: Take turns finding a quote or passage to end the day on.
While adjusting to a new daily routine, this is a perfect time to introduce some intentional rituals to your life. For me, they make tough days on an Outward Bound course much easier to cope with. Hopefully you can find the same during these tough shelter-in-place days. Do you have any family or household rituals you’ve been practicing during this time? Comment below!
Allison was born and raised in California and has a self-proclaimed shark obsession. After graduating college in Los Angeles with a degree in English, she moved to Central Florida to instruct for the North Carolina Outward Bound School’s at-risk program. Four years later, after instructing and course directing in Florida and North Carolina, Allison moved to New Orleans and taught 4th and 5th grade English Language Arts. Realizing that the classroom wasn’t for her, Allison moved back to her home in the Bay Area and again found herself instructing with Outward Bound California. When not backpacking the rolling hills of Northern California with a group of middle schoolers, Allison surfs, hoping to see a great white in the distance of the Pacific, drinks coffee out of enormous mugs, writes low-grade poetry, and watches lots of political dramas.