Team building support!

“None of us is as smart as all of us.”

Ken Blanchard

I got thinking: I was listening to the CBC yesterday, and I heard the comedian Maz Jobrani discussing his new movie “Jimmy Vestwood, Amerikan Hero”, and how he is raising money through crowd funding to pay for it. (Crowd funding describes the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. You may have heard of Kickstarter, which is a popular initiative for musicians.) When asked about how he was using crowd funding, Jobrani told the announcer about the advice he was given – PLAN AHEAD BEFORE YOU START ANYTHING!

So he spent a year making contacts, talking to friends, family, his multitude of networks, and laid the foundation for the crowd funding process. And he’s well on his way to making his budget for the movie.

The idea: Which got me thinking. No, I’m not going to do a movie! But I can also use my networks and contacts via the internet to help me in my work, especially if I broaden my notions of “Team” to include pretty much anyone who reads this post!

So, welcome to my team!

Now, I need your help. I am going to be doing a team building activity with my Parks folks later in March. There are about a gazillion team building exercises I can choose from, and I would like to know what works, what resonates with each and every one of you, and what you would recommend.

Your task: I would appreciate it if each of you would reflect on your experience and share with me/us you best team building exercise. What did you like about it? How hard is it to do? What did it accomplish?

If you would do that here, then anyone who contributes will end up having access to (hopefully) a variety of effective, interesting and easy to deliver team building exercises. Please take a moment and share your ideas. Instead of crowd funding, it is crowd training, and we all win!

Everyone is a winner when we work together! (Nice trophy!)
Everyone is a winner when we work together! (Nice trophy!)

Published by Susan Gesner

A skilled professional with a wealth of experience in a variety of facilitation, consultation, education and research fields. I am known for my leadership, strong interpersonal skills and my ability to bring teams together for a common goal. I strive to incorporate my own and other's passion for the environment and sustainability for the future. Oh, and I love to run, fly fish, ski and make music!

8 thoughts on “Team building support!

  1. Hi Sue- several we have done include:

    1) geocaching racing. Teams using GPS and clues to locate as many geocaches located in a small geographic area and solving a puzzle question-clues at each cache helped solve the question.

    2) teams doing time trials on a canoe obstical course. A variation was teams doing time trials completing various tasks including fire starting, first aid task, bird I’d (duck species of course!), wading over a distance in chest waders through a marsh course , etc.

    3) teams doing a scavenger hunt using cameras to record each target item with in our case the funniest PowerPoint report winning the prize.

    4) a good old fashioned team volleyball tournament.

    5) a Texas scramble golf tournament with each team provided one pink ball that as they play the round must be protected from being lost.

    All were fun and memorable!

    Good luck with your workshops!!

    Happy New Year!


  2. Hi Susan,
    An outdoor/indoor team builder I like is a treasure hunt. We do them at the lodge with groups and the clues are the first line of a song that is twisted a bit i.e. these boots were made for walking and if they walk to the bottom of the hill….you get the idea.
    We theme the treasure hunt so each time a team solves a clue they pick-up another part of say, a dinner setting (can be anything) and the first team to lay the table wins. We always make the prize sound absolutely wonderful i.e. each member of the winning team will get a laptop and we then present them with an abacus.
    Treasure hunts are fun, make people think and then have to communicate together in a hurry. Make sure the treasures are well spread apart so that if the team makes a mistake it costs them in time – this educates and forces team dynamics, consensus etc. We make some of the treasures difficult to get, so a team even when they discover treasure, have to elect someone to actually retrieve it.
    The clues are handed out one by one. As the team solves each clue they have to report back to the treasure hunt organizer for another clue.
    Depending on the group (i.e. sales forces etc but sometimes even civil servants!) you need to put in severe penalties for those who take “all” the treasure to prevent someone else from getting any etc, ah the competitive edge.
    The result of all this is a group rushing back and forth frantically trying to win – it is fun.


    Alex Strachan
    The Lodge at Pine Cove – gourmet picnics, adventure packages, guided paddling, etc. for our guest commentaries.
    Tel – 705-898-2500.

    1. Great stuff, Alex, I appreciate your insights. I particularly like the notion of encouraging team dynamics through forcing a time element…there’s lots of possibilities there.Stay tuned, and there may be some ideas turn up that you will be able to use as well! Cheers!

  3. Hi Susan,
    I like the treasure hunt idea also but with a fun spin…
    One of my favs was in groups you had to find checkpoints in a haunted corn maze (around Halloween) on a bike and then answer the clues at the checkpoints. At night – with headlamps on! It was a blast!

  4. Hi Susan,
    I did a wilderness first aid course with a group of students and found it one of the best teambuilders ever. Everyone was learning, so the activity was Real and Relevant. The scenarios created stressful situations once the fake blood was introduced. In an emergency situation people need to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and realize where they fit on the team.
    Sirius Wildreness medecine has this down pat as an activity.

  5. Hi Susan,

    Great thinking to open up the doors like this – neat to share in the great gift of human creativity!

    We did one team-builder per week in teachers college (where they were called community building activities), so I know there are lots out there. One I came across that seems fun and relevant to parks folks is called Swamp Island Maze. The details are as follows

    Swamp Island Maze
    20 8.5×11 sheets of paper and masking tape, “start” and “finish” boundary markers, Squeaker toy, a map of the “safe” specified route
    To transport the entire team across the quicksand swamp using only the “safe” grass clumps in a specific order to cross the swamp. Referring to the map of the “safe” specified route, the Leader uses “Swampy” (the squeaker toy) to confirm the “safe” island pattern as players each take each step. The team member must return to the back end of the team’s line if they step on an “unsafe”
    island. Team members must rotate turns attempting to discover the safe route across the swamp. There are exactly “14 ” mandatory safe steps to cross the swamp. Only one person may be crossing the swamp at any one time.

    (To be clear since I can’t attach a picture, you make up the pattern beforehand and only you know what it is, which is determined by the team through trial-and-error of different grass clumps in sequence and responding to your “squeaks”.)

    Another that I use regularly myself is to request that each attendee brings a nature object that is special to him/her and share the story of it in a circle. The object can be anything – a stone, a photograph, or a thought or memory. Of course, passing on your turn is also fine. The idea is that we are united by nature, but that the experience of it is highly personal and can only be defined by the person whose experience it is. As Emerson said, “Books and nature belong to the eyes that see them.” I have found it to be a very positive activity that really brings a group closer together in hearing and celebrating the stories of others.

    Good luck!

    Cheers, Bill

    1. Bill, thanks for the detailed information. Much appreciated! And I’ve been able to gather quite a bit of interesting feedback, so once it all trickles in, I’ll post a collection of it all, so anyone can use it. Sharing what we already do/know makes things so much easier!

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