For those of you who aren’t familiar with a Ropes Course experience, this is a great detailed explanation of what happens…
Sample Low Ropes Program
Part 2: Facilitator
The following story is the second half of a two-part discussion regarding low ropes sequencing and programming. Like the first story, this story is written in first-person but from the perspective of a facilitator this time as he leads the low ropes program for the group introduced in Part 1: Participant. In other words, this is Jim’s story.
My first contact with Ronald came in the form of an inquiry via email. He had heard of other companies using our programming to implement group cohesion and bonding and was interested in sending one of his marketing groups through our program. I work at a specialized, team-focused adventure center that caters programs to the needs of clientele groups by offering alternative team building experiences by use of high and low challenge course activities. He liked the productivity of his group but wanted a…
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Last week, Cohort 9 of the CSU Stanislaus EMBA program took a trip to Fresno State to complete a ropes course. Initially, I couldn’t figure out why were there…but it quickly became apparent that we had to rely on one another to complete the obstacles and as a result, we gained trust with one another and had an opportunity to become close, very quickly. Before I knew it, we were blindfolded and trusting our teammates to guide us to complete a puzzle; hanging off of one another to overcome the cable-walk challenge; and challenging our own fears to take on the high obstacles. It was a very fun day – but I didn’t think it was possible to take a very diverse group of people and allow them to be so comfortable and vulnerable with people they barely knew, in just a few hours.
I am not one to take risks myself; I don’t do roller coasters or other adrenaline based activities. But, my goal for the day was to walk away without regrets and I knew if I did not push myself to just try a high-element challenge, I would be disappointed. So, I began my climb up the telephone pole; I felt my body shaking the whole time. I trusted the equipment, I just wasn’t sure if I could psychically convince myself to complete the task. So it got up to the top, and once you’ve made it this far, the hardest part is to turn around and face the task in front of you (for me it was to walk across another telephone pole about 50 feet in the air). I was clenching the pole I had just come like a bear hug, I took a deep breath and opened my eyes, and there was a sign stapled to the pole, it read, “Does your mother know where you are right now?” I laughed at the thought that she had no clue that I was doing such a crazy thing, but it was enough to relax me and get me to move on and I completed the obstacle (PHEW!). Thanks, Mom!
Great Team Buildings Apps for less than $5
(Disclaimer – the links provided here, link to the iTunes store but my understanding is that may are available for androids as well.)
Goose Chase is a FREE app that allows you to develop a scavenger hunt for your team.
Group Games is an app that puts 50 game ideas in your hands to build trust amongst team members. It costs $0.99. Note: If you get to the App Store and find an icon that has a white “X” with colored circles at the ends, you’ve found the right app (looks like they may have changed their icon recently).
Trainer Activities is a $1.99 app that puts 30 ideas to create positive group atmosphere.
Scavenger Hunt Anywhere is a FREE app that allows you to create a scavenger hunt for your team using their smart phones.
iCreativity is another FREE app that allows teams to compete and find new ways to communicate, in a fun game atmosphere.
Team Building Quotes is a FREE app that shares quotes about team building.
Reverse Charades is a FREE app that allows your team to act out words or phrases, while one person guesses.
Heads Up is a $0.99 game that allows your team to play the real charades from any iphone or ipad, with a variety of categories – and allows you to take a team photo at the end.
Icebreakers is a FEE app (also called “The Great App of Icebreakers”) that provides a variety of energizing icebreakers for your team.
Free Icebreakers is a FREE app that provides a variety of questions that you can ask of your team (you may have to replace “family” with “team”, and some questions may be too personal for work.
Here’s what my boss calls a “data dump” – the list of a variety of links that lead to descriptions of team building activities… have fun, get lost!
- Teampedia: http://www.teampedia.net/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page
- Here’s a great blog: http://www.huddle.com/blog/team-building-activities/
- Here’s a PDF: http://cchealth.org/tobacco/pdf/activities.pdf
- And another PDF (more for youth – but can be adopted for adults): http://4h.uwex.edu/clubs/documents/TEAMBUILDING0231.pdf
- Here’s a variety of links (scroll down to get to the good stuff): http://www.businessballs.com/teambuildinggames.htm
- One pager PDF: http://www.onlineexpert.com/elearning/user/pdf/NatSem/ManagingDiverseWorkforce/Team-BuildingGamesActivitiesIdeas.pdf
- More links to some cool ideas, and frequently updated: http://www.wilderdom.com/games/
- Specifics for the work-place: http://humanresources.about.com/od/teambuildingactivities/qt/15-team-building-activities-for-the-workplace.htm
Wow – Some of these are just WRONG..but they’ll make you LAUGH too! (CLICK ON THE LINK ABOVE TO GET THE FULL DETAILS).
But the moral of the story is to be sensitive and consider the limitations of the people in your team, when doing team-building activities.
Here are some take-aways from the website linked for this post:
- Consider people’s dignity, personal space, and privacy – NO, it’s not appropriate to have to be naked with your boss!
- Athletic-type activities can be very miserable for some. For others art activities make them cringe and edgy. Also, be aware of physical limitations (especially when they’re related to worker’s comp injuries)!
- If the activity is competitive, be sure to split up groups fairly.
- The top complaint about team building exercises is that they don’t relate to the work we do – so make it relevant and explain the importance of working as a team. Be sure the team has buy-in – and at the very least, it’ll be a day away from the office.
- Team building may not be able to repair morale or communication issues, that’s when personnel interventions are needed – and they take TIME!
My most horrifying team building experience was called “Land Mine”. I had to work with a partner to guide my steps (while i was blindfolded) across a tarp covered in thumb tacks. I made it through okay, but when we had to change partners, I could see the pain and anguish on his face when he would step on a tack. OUCH!
Have you ever watched Minute to Win it? What a great concept, and it’s easy to do! This is a great energizer activity to get people motivated for the day ahead… Here are just a few ideas…
- Johnny Applestack: Have team members compete to stack 5 apples like a tower, they can race against the clock, or eachother – you can even create a bracket type competition. Here’s a link to a video and description: http://www.nbc.com/minute-to-win-it/how-to/episode-238/johnny-applestack/
- Office Tennis: In pairs, have teams volley a wadded up piece of paper using clipboards across a room and into a waste-basket. This is a great way to build bonds between two people. http://www.nbc.com/minute-to-win-it/how-to/episode-223/office-tennis/
- Caddy Stack: Have individuals stack three golf balls on top of each other (similar to Apple stack). http://www.nbc.com/minute-to-win-it/how-to/episode-231/caddy-stack/
And for those who need a bracket chart – here’s a sample that can be downloaded here: http://www.baggo.com/pdf/bracket.pdf
So, what a neat concept, although there are team-building events that can get quite competitive, when it ends with a charitable donation, everyone wins. Here are some similar ideas, similar to the bike-build idea (from a previous post). All of these have teams work together to assemble products to later be donated to a charitable organization. Here’s a link for some more information on these ideas: http://www.teambuilding-unlimited.com/charity.html
- Rocking Horse assembly
- Red Wagon assembly
- Tricycle assembly
- School backpack assembly & decoration
Here’s some other variations on the same concept…that may be a bit more fun and creative:
- Collect non perishable food items before your team build activity. Challenge teams to create a put-put golf hole using the food products they are allotted, then donate the food products to a local food bank. Give prizes for the most creative, or add a theme element.
- To encourage teams to examine their creative genes, give teams several blank canvases where they can paint groupings of paintings. Then donate these groupings to a local charity to auction off at a fundraising event.
- Have your team explore the mission of a local charitable organization, ask them to develop a pillow-case sized representation of their vision. Have the pillowcases sewn together to create a mural project. The local organization can hang the mural in their lobby or conference room as a decoration.
Here’s a charitable team-buidling event: The Best Corporate Events and Team Building hosts a bike-build challenge. Using iPads teams are developed from the organization to answer challenging questions and then are tasked with building a bike, riding it on an obstacle course, and then the bikes are donated to a local charitable organization.
Brown Bagg’n It!
Here’s a great get-to-know-you team building exercise. Coming in as a new manager or after you’ve been with the company for a suitable amount of time where you can begin to get a little more personal…
Either ask your team in advance to prepare for the assignment, or you begin by doing this as a manager on your own…so that the team can get to know you. Bring in at least 5 personal items that describe your background, interests, representations of who you are, hobbies, passions, etc.
A fun variation of this is to ask people to do this on the fly with what they’ve brought with them to the meeting (i.e. purses, wallets, key chains, lanyards, laptops, etc.).