The Power in Metaphor and Anchor Pieces

The Power in Metaphor and Anchor Pieces

I started my career in the Adventure Counseling field.  I worked at a Wilderness program for troubled teens as a full-time counselor.  It was a long-term residential program where the average length of stay for kids was around 9 months.  During that time the kids had lots of opportunities to work on their goals and make significant changes in their decision making process and behaviors before they would go home.  I worked specifically with 12-13 year old girls.    
 
I always tried to come up with some kind of activity that would resonate with them, something that they would enjoy doing in the moment as well as have long lasting meaning.  A popular activity I did with them once was a jewelry making activity.  We provided several pewter charms, beads and other raw supplies for them to create a unique piece for themselves.  I asked them to look at all of the charms before them and select one that might metaphorically represent their journey at camp.  As they were making their pieces we would go around the circle and have them describe their charm and what it meant to them.  The connections they made always fascinated me and it helped all of us know how to weave that metaphor into their daily, weekly and monthly progress through the program.
 
Through the powers of Facebook I recently had a camper reach out and inquire if I was indeed 'Chief Michelle' from long ago.  It was so wonderful to reconnect with her and hear how her life had unfolded since I worked with her in 1994.  She is now married, has three kids, has a successful career and is really happy in life.  Through our conversation she mentioned that she still frequently wears the pewter charm necklace that she made over 20 years ago, and that metaphor of the bird spreading its wings and rising above is still a constant in her life.  Talk about the power of metaphors!  It nearly brought me to tears.  This Anchor Piece charm regularly grounds her and reminds her of all her hard work and commitments she made to herself as a 12 year old girl.  
 
The work we do as facilitators and trainers matters, and we have the opportunity to create long lasting change through the simplest activities.  What are some of your favorite Anchor Pieces?  Check out our Mini Metaphors, Mini Rubber Chickens, the Community Puzzle and Postcards for a few of ours.
~Michelle Cummings
Author, Trainer and Big Wheel
Training Wheels
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