Reviewing Task: Fear Factor

Before the start of an adventure course, this task allows everybody to understand what is causing nerves and stress in a group.


Post-Its, Whiteboard/Flipchart/Flat Surface and chalk


Down the left hand side or along the bottom of the board write the numbers 0 to 5. Ensure they are spread out along the whole width to give the maximum room and that they are evenly distributed.


Ask the group to write their name on the top of 5 post-its. Then get them to write five activities or concepts that you have chosen underneath that. These activities/concepts should be things that people are commonly afraid of and should be pertinent to the course you are running or the daily lives of the group. For example, a group about to embark on an adventure week might be given "Deep Water, Heights, Confined Spaces, Mud and The Dark". There is a list of possible 'fears' below but try to think about what fears the group might have already.

Once they have done this, ask the group to bring their post-its up to the board and stick them onto it in the appropriate position. Explain that the numbers have the following meanings.

Value Meaning
0 No fear at all
1 Mildly Concerned
2 Apprehensive
3 Scared
4 Very Scared
5 Absolutely Terrified

Once the group have stuck their post-its on the board, you can look at it as a group and discuss the results. Particular attention can be paid to those that have a lot of high or low placements or those who are mostly low with one especially high one.

Done at the start of a course or session, this provides the trainer with a good feeling for both the general 'fear factor' in the group and specific concerns of members. It also allows members to make their fears public in a manner which is easy to articulate and reduces the chance of humiliation when those fears surface during an activity/session. By looking at the spread, it also allows others in the group to realise when members might need support.

If possible the arrangement should be left in place and displayed during the course/session so it can be referred to when appropriate.

Possible 'Fears'

Deep water, heights, confined spaces, mud, the dark, public speaking, confrontation, creepy crawlies, betrayal, letting people down, getting hurt, technology, flying, spiders, death, crowds, clowns, responsibility, failure

Thanks to David Crombie of Boulder Adventures who had the idea for this originally.