Six Group Activities for Friends over Forty
More on Social Capital
- Harvard Kennedy School - Saguaro Seminar :: About Social Capital
The term social capital emphasizes not just warm and cuddly feelings, but a wide variety of quite specific benefits that flow from . . . social networks.
More and more people are texting or tweeting their messages in as few words as possible and knowing less and less about individuals they care about.
For this decline in face to face communication, Harvard Professor, Robert D. Putnam prescribes an increase in social capital--the collective value of social networks.
Some resurgence in group activities like club meetings and having friends over will make the individual and the community happier and safer.
Someone has to initiate the idea of a gathering, and available suggestions for group activities might make that individual more willing to follow through. The activities listed below are geared toward happy, healthy conversations, and can be streamlined to fit the group.
There is no hard and fast rule about the age group, but adults near and over forty usually need a push away from the busy schedules of office responsibilities and home management, including the transportation of preteens and teenagers to school and extra-curricular activities. They also enjoy talking the language of their peers.
They can have lots of fun, laughter and stress release by participating in these group activities.
(1) Banana Entry
for relaxation and casual conversation
The planner announces a special fun gathering, and an admission fee—one ripe banana.
On arrival, each attendant puts the banana in a basket or container of choice, which is placed near the front entrance, and takes a number. Without any ritual, the bananas are picked up while individuals greet each other, settle in and anticipate the fun.
Soon, servers appear with banana splits complete with a variety of fixings. The fun begins as individuals speak in the order assigned by their numbers, to tell:
their original thoughts on why the banana was requested;
any funny story they know about bananas.
Conversation continues on any other fun topic prearranged by the host or proposed by the comedian(s) in the group.
(2) From There to Here
for sharing motivation to move forward
Participants bring old pictures of themselves to display as in a show-and-tell. Each individual gets a chance to tell the group, where he or she was spiritually, or emotionally, socially, academically, financially (the individual’s prerogative) in the picture; and briefly report on anything significant that made them leap or stumble from there to here (their present circumstances).
Make room for appropriate jokes from the speaker and interjections and questions from the listeners. Have fun with the historical and reports of transformation.
(3) Model Your Story
to inspire and help participants know each other better
Participants walk down a makeshift runway, wearing outfits or accessory items of social, emotional or spiritual significance. Each participant writes a personal narrative in advance to be read by a golden-voice, good reader.
Each story must be about a significant event to which the participant wore the outfit or article; or a story about something unexpected but meaningful which happened while the model was wearing the item. For example, it could be something worn when a sweetheart proposed, or when the wearer had an aha moment, or it could be a special gift from a friend.
The model is free to add whatever dramatic flair he or she wants, while walking down the runway. Keep the narratives upbeat, pleasant, humorous where appropriate for a good-feel, inspirational session.
(4) Movie Lines and Actions
for intentional fun and memory exercise
Each person gets a turn to do the acting. The group leader demonstrates the activity, and then allow the person who responds correctly to the clues to take the stage.
Sample Movie Lines
“Let me get the cheese cake and we’ll talk.” Blanche Devereaux in Golden Girls.
“Excuse me, sir, I don’t know your signal.” Maria in The Sound of Music.
“I loves Harpo, God knows I do. But I'll kill him dead 'fo I let him beat me.” Sofia in The Color Purple
Here are the instructions for the person who is acting:
a) Name the movie (or sitcom) you’re thinking about.
b) Mime the action that suggests the character who spoke the line you’re thinking about. Have participants guess.
c) Continue miming until someone quotes the line (doesn’t have to be perfect, but close enough).
Choose popular movies most people may have watched, and memorable lines spoken by characters most people may know. If one person in the group knows most of the lines, that person can share the acting opportunities with others. If the event is announced beforehand, participants can find lots of great lines on YouTube.
(5) Neighborhood Prayer Walk
for divine intervention and protection from evil
These days when so many lives are endangered by the wicked actions of others, prayers for innocent, family and community members cannot be too many. Most individuals over forty have children, other relatives and friends about whom they care deeply. Why not combine some powerful prayers on their behalf of their loved ones?
While the entire group takes an early leisurely walk around the neighborhood, teams of two or three can walk together and share prayers for the protection of themselves and those within the neighborhood, and extend those prayers for the protection of loved ones who live outside the area. At the beginning and at the end of the walk, the group assembles and prayer is offered by one or two members for the effectiveness of their efforts.
for group and subgroup bonding
How often do you meet with a group (include family gatherings) for social activities?
Paper and pencils are needed for this activity, and each person has a chance to contribute to the conversation about what is to be written.
Write numbers 1 to 12 on paper (each number representing the calendar month) and fold them so that the numbers are hidden. Divide the group according to birth months, and have one individual from each group pick a number (not corresponding to the birth month of his or her group). For example, the group born in April can pick any number except 4 and the group born in December can pick any number except 12.
Individuals in each group, work as a team to write a tribute (75 to 100 words of prose, or 6 to 8 lines of poetry) to the people born in the month represented by the number they select. Make the tributes funny but affirming. Assign a reader from each group to read the tributes in whatever order the group decides. Teams deserve to be applauded twice—once for their compositions, and again for receiving worthy tributes.
Certainly, other group ideas will come to mind when participants begin to enjoy their occasional group activities with church friends, family members, fellow workers or neighbors. It's not just a need, it's a social benefit.
© 2015 Dora Isaac Weithers