In this chapter, we'll take you through the best outdoor activities for team building to try with your teams.
One of the best ways to get everyone to start bonding and getting to know each other on a personal level is to provide a change in scenery. Whether it be a trip to a state park or even national park / national forest, rock climbing, a river adventure, horseback riding; These are all fabulous outdoor adventures and activities for you and your team.
When we constantly see someone is the exact same context and situation every single time, it’s very easy to fall into the mindset that the person is defined solely by their role and responsibilities.
Just think of the first time you saw a teacher outside of school and were utterly shocked that they actually had a life outside of school grounds.
With this in mind, here are some fun team building games for the great outdoors.
If your team is working remotely at the moment then you should check out our 7000 word guide on remote team building games and activities for virtual teams. In there you'll find 40 ideas with instructions that you can try with your newly remote team.
1) Egg drop
Objective: Creative problem solving and improving collaboration
Participants: 4 to 20 people
Duration: 20 to 30 minutes
Materials: Carton of eggs and building materials (e.g., newspaper, balloons, string, etc)
Everyone loves throwing stuff out of a building, if they say they aren’t interested then they’re a liar.
A schoolyard classic, this is a fun game that tests everyone’s problem-solving and collaborative skills, and you get to throw things off the roof!
- Gather a carton of eggs and simple building materials (e.g., newspapers, balloons, string, cardboard, masking tape etc).
- Divide your team into small groups, we recommend having no more than three to five people. Evenly distribute the materials to every group.
- The challenge is for every group to construct a carrier in 20 to 30 minutes that’ll allow for an egg to be dropped off the roof of the building (or a two-story window if you work in a skyscraper) without breaking.
- Top tip: Make sure you avoid this activity on a hot day as no one enjoys the smell of rotting egg in the parking lot.
2) Team Sports
Objective: To improve communication Skills, Team Bonding, Confidence Building & Improving Collaboration
Participants: 5 to 50 people
Duration: 1 to 2 hours
Materials: Depends on the game
Ahh… the joys of school sports day.
A day with no lessons, out on the sports field, the sun shining and you’re in friendly competition with your best mates. It brings back happy memories even now.
So, why not bring this euphoric moment back to life with a friendly, fun and fast-paced sports day.
This is one of the most self-explanatory activities out there.
Simply set up your own sports day by dividing your group into different teams, and making them compete in different sports.
Whether it's soccer, volleyball or even dragon boat racing, a little friendly competition and physical activity is a great way of encouraging communication and collaboration between your great team members.
All you really need is a large enough space to play your sport of choice and it’s game on.
Top tip: Make sure you take into consideration the type of sport you choose, as well as the physical abilities and personalities of your group as people who aren't naturally athletic might feel embarrassed or humiliated, and others who are extremely competitive can make it uncomfortable for everyone involved.
3) Charity Events & Social Work
Objective: Team Bonding & Get To Know One Another
Participants: 5 - 500
Duration: Anywhere between a couple of hours to a couple of weeks
With experts in Britain and Canada notioning that people who support charities are much happier; and with studies finding that happier employees are far more cooperative within teams, we cannot recommend this team building activity highly enough.
Again, another activity with very simple instructions.
Simply, get everyone in your team to volunteer at a local charity together. It is a great way to give your team the opportunity to give back and learn more about each other in the process.
Whether it’s spending a few hours at a soup kitchen, helping out a nonprofit, or reading to kids at a hospital, volunteering not only helps your team feel more connected with each other but to their community as well.
To help you look for volunteering work that you and your team can get behind, make sure to check out sites like Idealist, All for Good, VolunteerMatch and Catchafire.
4) Scavenger Hunts
Objective: To work in teams to collect objects from around the office
Participants: 15 to 40 people
Duration: 10 to 15 minutes
Materials: A list of object that can be found in the office
If you’re able to set aside at least a few hours for employee orientation, then it’s highly recommended that you try out this fun and engaging team building activity.
We love scavenger hunt because it is a great and engaging way to introduce new staff into the workplace and get a feel for their new job.
Not only does it encourage collaboration and interaction, it’s also an activity that all personality types can enjoy.
- Break everyone into small groups of four or five.
- Give each group a short list of things to find within the office (e.g., a hole punch, tea bags, a pink pen…).
- Set the clock for 5 minutes and instruct the teams to find as many of the things of the list as possible.
- The winning team is the team who has the most stuff from the list collected.
- Top tip: In order to spice things up a little further, you should add a small incentive for the winning team.
5) Team Tic-Tac-Toe
Objective: Improving Collaboration, Decision Making, Confidence Building & Communication Skills
Participants: 5 - 10 people
Duration: 15 to 30 minutes
Materials: Eight bean bags and nine cones/hoops
Often used as a warm-up drill for sports teams around the world, this activity also has the side benefit of being an excellent team building game that gives everyone a chance to shine while working together as a team.
Personally, we love it so much because it's active and is guaranteed to get everyone's heart racing.
- Divide everyone into two equal lines.
- Set up cones in a three-by-three grid a few yards away from the players.
- Each member of the team must place their respective beanbag on one of the cones and then runs back and tags the next person in the line, who places their bean bag and runs back. And so on and so forth.
- Run as many rounds of this game as you’d like and feel free to mix it up by adding in an extra challenge like having to dribble a soccer ball for example.
6) Hole in many
Objective: Communication Skills & Improving Collaboration
Participants: 4 - 12 people
Duration: 30 minutes
Materials: A tarpaulin and some tennis balls
The aim of the game is to keep the tennis ball from falling through any of the halls for as long as possible. This is a great game as it practices your team's ability to effectively communicate with each other; which is important because studies have found that teams with effective communication are more competent.
- Find (or buy) and old tarpaulin and cut some holes in it.
- Instruct everybody to grab a corner of a tarpaulin and stretch it out between them so that everyone is in a circle.
- Place a tennis ball in the tarpaulin - the aim of the game is to keep the tennis ball from falling through any of the holes for as long as possible.
- To make it even more challenging, you can cut a few more holes in the tarp or add a few more tennis balls as the time limit goes by.
7) Fearless Factor
Objective: To promote teamwork, trust, patience and creativity
Participants: 5 - 10 people
Duration: 10 to 15 minutes
Materials: Pen and paper for each team
The ‘fear factor’ is a great team building activity because it gets everyone involved and thinking outside of the box.
We personally love it because it’s fun, tests everyone’s ability and encourages cooperation.
- Split your group into teams, we recommend having no more than three to six players per team.
- Each team must come up with six challenges that they can accomplish and win.
- The team coming up with the challenge must be able to do the challenge before they can add it to the list for another group to attempt to accomplish. We suggest encouraging challenges like this:
- Physical challenges, such as each member of the team jumping a rope ten times without tripping or stopping.
- Non-physical challenges, such as having to sing happy birthday in spanish.
- ‘Gross’ challenges, such as eating ice cream with ketchup.
- After 5 minutes, get the group to hand in their list.
- Call out challenges, the team (or teams) who did not create the challenge have a chance to do it. If they successfully do it, they get a point.
- Go through all the challenges, whichever team finishes on the most points wins.
8) Team Mall
Objective: To highlight individual strengths and creative thinking
Participants: 4 or more
Duration: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Materials: A piece of butcher paper for each team member, paint, brushes, water and newspaper
This team building activity appeals to us because it is creative, fun and allows everyone to express things they personally value. In return, it promotes trust and a sense of cohesion within teams.
- Give everyone the equipment that they need.
- Instruct them to create a storefront and in the storefront they should draw things that represent them.
- The storefront should contain items that represent their positive aspects and skills.
- Once dried, turn the room into a ‘team mall’ by hanging all the pieces of paper on the walls.
- Get each team member to explain their stall and why they put what they put on it.
9) The Emotional Bus
Objective: Learning to express emotions
Participants: 6 or more (in pairs)
Duration: 20 or more minutes
Materials: Two chairs and paper slips
This team building activity is one of our favourites because it promotes effective management of emotions; which research has shown to increase performance - especially in virtual teams.
- Before you start the game, write down different emotions on slips of paper.
- Invite the first pair up to select an emotion each (so two are selected). It is important that no other pair sees their emotion.
- Give the pair a scenario (e.g., they are waiting for the bus). The pair then has three minutes to act out a scene which must use the emotion they are given.
- The rest of the group must then guess what emotion each pair was acting out.
- Invite the next pair up and repeat.
10) What's Your Fortune?
Objective: Getting to know your team; creating an open conversation with your team
Participants: 4 or more
Duration: 20 to 30 minutes
Materials: Fortune cookies
Everyone loves to cook (well, most people do), so a nice activity for you to do is to bake some cookies for all your team.
To make it more beneficial, add writing to make them fortune cookies so that you can understand what your team members want.
- Find a cookie recipe online to complete this task.
- Add your own fortunes and positive affirmations in these cookies for the group to answer:
- What is your favourite activity with the team?
- What is your hope for the team in the future?
- How would you describe the teams function to someone?
- Where do you see the team in five years?
- When someone opens a cookie, they must answer the question.
And there you have it. Those are our favourite outdoor team building activities.
We hope you've liked our list!