The Browne Center

5 Things Learned Programming to 4,000 Plus

5 Things Learned Programming to 4,000 Plus

by Jeff Frigon, Youth & Student Programs Coordinator


In the world of challenge course facilitation, there are small groups, and there are large groups, and then there are what I have recently started referring to as “supermassive” groups.

I use supermassive because I’m a science nerd and it refers to a class of black holes that grow so large, that entire universes revolve around them.  They create gravity so strong that nothing can escape their pull (including light) and, in the case of supermassive groups, this apparently includes the facilitator’s ability for rational thought and speech.

Here is what I have learned:


1)  Know your audience.

Know what words to use to make the instructions relevant.  I have been working middle school groups in small (12 or less) and large (up to 300) groups for years, so I know what works and what doesn’t.

2)  Know your activity.

The activities I used were ones I could “do in my sleep,” and had led literally hundreds of times with groups of all sizes and populations.

3)  Get their attention: Call and Response.

Find a noise and action that are your call-and response.  Use this to focus them and make sure they are ready for your instructions.  I get the attention of just about anyone with the “Disco Call” I procured years ago from The Beastie Boy’s Paul’s Boutique album (specifically Egg Man)… the “Ooop-Ooop!” along with the admittedly silly dual hand motion indicating  “raise the roof”.

4)  Make them Laugh as soon as possible.

See: above “disco call”.

5)  Timing is everything. 

Fortunately, whether you can see them or not (and in my case, thankfully, I could not due to the stage lighting), the timing of an activity run with 3000 people is about the same as one with 300 people.  Capture their attention (see #3) to give instructions, then give a little more time than you would a small group.  Give them those little hints you would anyone else…just give it a couple more seconds to sink in and get carried out.


Here is a video of one of the activities I used during Stand-UP NH, a one-day program where 4,000 plus students take a stand against all forms of bullying.  For more information about this program see their website:


Video courtesy of PA Connect.


The Browne Center has been providing innovative experiential learning programs since the early 1980s. We provide a wide range of programming from comprehensive trainings to shorter one-day sessions. Our learning programs evolve to meet the needs of our clients and our diverse client base allows us to draw upon best practices from a variety of disciplines and remain sensitive to specific needs and outcomes.

Creating a dynamic program based on your group's specific goals is our approach with every single client. We can provide an action-packed program to meet your needs – whether you are coming together as a new group, integrating new members, building positive group relationships, addressing specific behaviors, or striving for performance excellence.