THE DIY OF OBSTACLE COURSE GAMES
The creation of an obstacle course is a game in itself, and may indeed be structured as a game for players to undertake before they venture into an obstacle course of their own creation.
The limits determining the creation of an obstacle course are ; the availability of objects and materials ; the nature and size of the space where the course is to be created ; the ages, abilities, aptitudes and attitudes of the players ; and the challenges which will engage the players as they experience the obstacle course.
Above progressing through an obstacle course made up of chairs and poles (from the early 70s)
The completed obstacle course may look casual, orderly, disorderly, geometrical, colourful, complicated or simple. The materials used may emphasise the familiar or the exotic : they may be derived from a single source (office, garden, storeroom, tool cupboard, playroom) or from a variety or combination of sources. They may have been specially searched for or simply chosen from what is immediately available. The objects may be laid out separately or joined and linked together with tapes or decorative materials. All these choices and decisions determine not only the appearance of the obstacle course but also the nature of the game.
The layout of the objects and materials making up the obstacle course is fundamentally determined by the challenge given to the players. The overall aim is to create an obstacle course game which is simultaneously a problem, a puzzle, and a pleasure (if also occasionally a frustration) to the players. The objects and materials making up the obstacle course may become stepping stones. The players may feel their way through the obstacle course. They may be carrying everyday objects or unusual objects. They may progress through the obstacle course singing, dancing, or silently. Above and below progress through an all white obstacle course with boards on heads. (part of Girls Can Do It).
The problems or challenges may be added to as the game continues - having made a first journey through the obstacle course, and choosing to make a second journey, players may (for example) be given a glass of water to carry and asked to endeavour not to spill a drop during this second and more delicate journey. Challenges may be varied for different players - the challenges chosen for five and six year olds may be different from those chosen for adults venturing through the same obstacle course. And obstacle courses are not fixed in concrete. An obstacle course can be added to and changed as a game is explored and developed. An obstacle course can also be changed and adapted whilst players are progressing through the course - adding further surprises to the game and providing for both unexpected problems and unexpected opportunities. Obstacle courses may be created, or adapted, for disabled players.
Celebrations for obstacle course journeys completed often make a natural conclusion to these games, and may be improvised, or planned and structured in advance.