Team Building is known by many different names. Depending on which camp you worked at during your college summers, you might know it by low ropes, challenge course, team building, or some other name. Whatever you call it, team building can be an awesome tool to bring your youth group together. There are, though, a few important things to know about team building if you’re new to it in order to give your youth a positive experience before you jump in.
What is it? – There are three important parts to a successful team building activity, but basically team building typically consists of an open challenge that you (The facilitator) pose to your group. The three parts are
The Set-Up: This part requires some of the most thinking. If you do not fully think through your set-up, you can give away the answer to your challenge. It is usually good to pose the challenge in such a way that there might be many different ways to tackle the issue. The youth are given a set of rules by the facilitator that govern the challenge, and a set of consequences for breaking those rules. Depending on your challenge, you might have to think through some safety issues. Make sure you address any safety issues with your youth if they are standing on high ledges, or in a place where they could fall.
The Challenge: Youth are given the chance to complete the challenge and can keep trying to tackle the challenge until the facilitator deems that the challenge is over or needs to be paused. It is important to listen during this time to keep a finger on the pulse of your group. If youth start to check out or give up, something isn’t going well. You must as the facilitator, either reframe the challenge, or pause and the youth a chance to talk through what isn’t working. You as the facilitator will also want to listen to hear what kinds of roles each person plays during the challenge. (e.g. Is someone being really encouraging? is someone acting as the leader?)
The Debrief: After the challenge comes the most important part. After EVERY challenge, you should debrief the activity. If you do not debrief the challenge, the youth do not get a chance to learn any spiritual or emotional truth from the challenge. Start your debrief with asking the youth about how they felt it went. Use open questions to guide the discussion. If the youth don’t bring it up on their own, it is also important to ask what the youth can learn from the challenge as it applies to their lives (especially their spiritual lives).
An ideal time to use a team building activity would be if you are preparing a group for a mission trip or weekend retreat.
Tie the Rope
Knowing all this, here’s a great simple challenge that you can use for any team building event.
You Need: A 15-20 ft Rope
The Set-Up: Lay the Rope out on the ground laying out end to end. Tell the youth that, when you tell them to, they must all grab the rope with one hand. They may not let go of the rope once they grab it and may not move their hand up and down the rope. it must stay in the same spot. Tell them that their challenge is to tie an overhand knot in the rope. After they tie the knot, they must pull it tight. This is a very safe challenge, so you shouldn’t need to warn your youth about any ways they could be hurt.
The Challenge: (Do not tell this to the youth. The secret is that the youth really must think about how the are going to tie the knot before they grab the rope. If they do not think it through, it will be very difficult, if not impossible to tie the knot.) Let the youth try to tackle the challenge. ADVANCED GROUPS: If you think you have an advanced group, make a few of the youth unable to speak, or make the youth try to do this in a confined space like a school bus or a small closet)
The Debrief: This will always be different depending on the group, but key questions to use are as follows.
- How do you feel you did in this challenge?
- Who seemed to act as a leader(or encourager, or an antagonist) in this challenge? (Ask that person) Why do you think you took that role?
- What do you think you can learn from this challenge? Why
- How do you think this applies to your relationship with God? Why? What can you learn for the future through this challenge?
We pray this helps your group grow together as you use this and other team building activities. Remember to follow us on twitter @StealOurStuff and like us on Facebook. If you have something you want to let other people steal, send it to StealOurStuff@gmail.com