Fun ways to build community and skills
School camp is an excellent time to cultivate and nurture a teamwork ethos. The ability to work well in teams is critical, not just for school, but also for life. Regardless of what career path students ultimately take, employers will be looking for team players.
Good teamwork actually requires a whole range of skills. In this article we focus on four of these core skills and provide you with some school camp activities to help hone students abilities in these areas.
Trust is crucial to team effectiveness, without it teams quickly become a collection of individuals. The ability to trust can be learned and developed. Here are a couple of activities to consider:
Activity #1: Trust Walk
This game is relatively simple to organise and requires little to no equipment.
Organise the group into partners. In each partnership one person is blindfolded and the other is the leader. Using only words (no touch) the leader then guides the blindfolded person through an obstacle course.
The obstacle course can be man made or natural. Make sure there are no safety hazards before commencing the game. If you want to make the game more difficult, allow the whole group to lead one person.
Activity #2: Ladder Logs
The Ladder Logs Coffs Coast Adventure Centre allows 2-4 students to climb a series of increasingly high ladder logs. Students help each other ascend while their classmates are belaying them at the bottom. This is an excellent exercise for teaching students to trust each other in stressful situations.
For teams to work together effectively, strong communication skills are essential. Here are a couple of school camp activities that foster communication:
Activity #3: Worst Case Scenario
Only your imagination is required to create this game.
Fabricate a situation a “worst case” situation such as being stranded on a desert island or lost at sea. Students are then asked to work together to come up with a solution that ensures everyone is safely rescued from the “worst case” situation.
Development of the solution can be left open ended, or you can provide more specific instructions such as listing the 10 “must have” items that would them to escape. It’s a good idea to encourage voting and require agreement on the final solution.
Activity #4: Time Crisis
Every child has his or her own unique way of communicating and processing information. At Coffs Coast Adventure Centre we have created the Time Crisis challenge to enable teams to capitalise on each team member’s way of seeing things. In this game the entire team must work together to find hidden keys and solve cryptic clues to “escape the room”.
Respect and awareness of the feelings of others is essential to a strong team. For young children in particular this can be a difficult lesson to learn. Here are two activities that can help to demonstrate the importance of respect.
Activity #5: Let Me in the Circle
This game is simple to organise yet a powerful way to get children thinking about others.
Ask the group to form a large circle holding hands with their backs to the middle. Two students remain outside the circle and must try to get into the centre. Instruct the group that the may not hurt each other physically or emotionally during the activity.
Once the activity is completed, have a class discussion about how hard it can be for some people to be included in activities in daily life.
Activity #6: Inner Limits
At Coffs Coast Adventure Centre we have created Inner Limits which is a series of games and challenges designed to help students become more self aware, while at the same time learning to discover and respect their teammates.
The ability and willingness to work in tandem with other people to achieve a common goal is essential to building strong teams. Here are two activities help foster cooperation:
Activity #7: Tug of War
All you need to create a great common goal is a long and strong piece of rope!
A traditional tug of war sees the group divided into two teams. Teams pull on either end of a rope until one team is pulled across the centre line. A super fun and easy exercise, it’s a great idea to discuss with students how to work together effectively both before and after the tug of war.
Activity #8: Commando Course
The Commando Course at Coffs Coast Adventure Centre is the ultimate team building exercise. Students are taken through a tough obstacle course with plenty of mud and physical challenges. It’s super fun….but what’s really interesting is to watch how students learn to work together and help each other to the finish line.