This updated Outdoor Team Building Activities guide contains hundreds of activities with step by step instructions to develop leadership and teamwork skills. Outdoor team building activities are a great way of finding out how well you work as part of a team. But why should you bother?
What are Outdoor Team Building Activities?
Team building games and activities are designed to create a challenge that enables you to show how you work in a team. Do you lead, or are you a team player?
Part of the challenge is to actually get on and work out how to solve the problem given to you. In the early stages, help to encourage all members of your team to come up with ideas on how to solve the task given to you. If you pay attention and listen to what they say, you will be able to work out what strengths each member of the team has.
Taking part in outdoor team building activities and working as part of a team helps you to develop personal skills, leadership skills, team skills, communication skills and problem solving skills.
Outdoor Team Building Activities Ideas
This is just a brief introduction to outdoor team building. For a complete guide, I have set up a website dedicated to team building. You can find over 100 ideas for outdoor team building activities and free guides for team building activities for kids, teens and adults.
Why Bother With Team Building Activities?
Life is full of challenges, and one the biggest challenges is to work with others in society. To get the best from your working life, you will need to work out how to work in a team. So, when those team building activities are thrown at you, rise to the challenge and show them what you’ve got.
Successful Team Building Activities and Games
Define the Purpose of the Team Building Activities
The team building challenge should have a clearly defined goal to strive for. To be worth doing, the goal should be challenging but achievable. If the goal seems too impossible, it stops being challenging and becomes demoralising.
Team building activities should be relevant to the team.
There needs to be some motivation for undertaking the challenge. A reward, a prize, the thrill of doing it (fun stuff and adventure), or the satisfaction from achievement and winning.
Fun should be a primary factor in all team building activities for teens and adults. These free fun team building ideas are proven to develop teamwork. Some team building courses focus on taking people out of their comfort zone to see how they perform under stress. They end up alienating people who then disengage from the team building process.
A lot of people need an incentive or motivation to participate in a team building game. Some are shy, or just not outdoors people. Not everyone enjoys physical exercise, especially if it exposes your weaknesses.
Work to Your Strengths
These team building activities for teens will help teens to identify their strengths and also how they can improve. If there are problems in the team, then the team should be mentored to demonstrate how things could be done. Rather than point out mistakes and weaknesses, advice and guidance should be given. This should be done positively, and help to show how things should be done and how it is achievable by working as a team.
Outdoor Team Building Activities Ideas
Team Building Ice Breakers
The aim of ice breakers is to enable team members to get to know each other better. Sometimes you may go away on team building days or team building weekends where you have never met anyone in your team before. This can be a bit daunting. Fear not, there is a simple way to do it.
During the ice breaker, go up and introduce yourself and then encourage the other person to talk about themselves. Everyone loves talking about themselves. If you can ask the right questions, you will soon get to learn a little about what they like. You may find you have something in common. You could ask about music, TV, computers, hobbies, sports, or even what they think about team building ice breakers. Just make sure you listen to what they say, and don’t criticise them.
As you talk, you may pick up on skills that they have that will help in your team building activities. Can they tie knots? Are they good at swimming? Can they do first aid? Are they fit? Are they clever?
Read the full list of Ice Breaker Games.
Ideas for Team Building Activities, Games and Challenges
Whether you are looking for team building activities for adults, teens or kids, this list gives you a selection of the best team building activities, games and challenges that will develop of teamwork skills.
Read through the list carefully to see which team building activities are best suited to the particular aspect of teamwork that you are aiming to develop. The most popular team building activities tend to focus around team coordination, trust, leadership, communication and team bonding.
For a more specific list of team building activities, you should look at:
- Ice Breaker Games
- Quick Team Building Activities
- Team Building Activities for Kids
- Team Building Activities for Teens
- Team Building Activities for Adults
- Leadership Skills
- Problem Solving Activities
- Physical Team Building Activities
- Team Bonding Activities
- Outdoor Team Building
- Corporate Events
- Corporate Retreats
- Team Building for Sports Teams
- Military Team Building
Team Building Activities Ideas
- Human pyramids – How high can you build a human pyramid or tower?
- Egg Toss – How far can you throw a raw egg to a partner who successfully catches it?
- Obstacle courses – Create an assault course or obstacle course and get the teams to race over it. Get them to carry a bucket of water adds to the fun.
- Toxic Area Canister Retrieval – This is one of the most popular team building activities. With equipment provided, rescue a container from a taped off area. Rather than moving toxic waste, I prefer to fill the container with a reward such as sweets, or even dinner that has to be cooked over an open fire.
- Bucket Swimming relay – Get the team to do a swimming relay collecting things from the other end of the pool wearing a bucket on their head, which is actually a real challenge to swim with as it fills up and slows you down.
- Blanket Volleyball – Set up a volleyball court using blankets or large tarps for the net. The teams on either side cannot tell where the ball is coming from, so have to work together to win.
- Crate Stacking – You need proper climbing gear for this one. Rig a safety line and pulley high above the place where you will be stacking your crates. The stacker has to stack the crates into a tower as tall as they can, whilst balancing on the top.
- Bucket on a rope water obstacle course – Get a very long piece of rope or string and weave it across a series of obstacles. Up trees, through bushes, across mud, over walls. Then, feed one end of the string through the handle of a bucket that is full of water. The team then has to get the bucket of water to the other end of the piece of string without spilling any water.
- Firemans relays – Each team has to form a relay chain to get all of the water from one big barrel across an obstacle course and into another barrel at the other end. The race is timed of course.
- Target Practice – Use any projectile to hit a target. Water, paint or flour bombs are the best. The team has to build their contraption for launching their ammo. See which team can fire it the furthest, or get closest to a target.
- Chariot racing – The team builds a chariot and then races across a course.
- Sedan Chair Racing – Sedan chair racing is the same principle as the chariot race, but the team have to carry the sedan chair off the ground with their rider sitting on it.
- Orienteering – The team has to work together to navigate a course finding markers along the way. They have to keep together. The fastest team wins.
- Go Karting – The team can make go karts, or just go somewhere and race proper go karts. They work as a team to see who is fastest.
- Geocaching – Using a GPS, you can find hidden caches all over the world using the geocaching.com website. A hitech treasure hunt.
- Scavenger Hunts and Treasure Hunts – Give your teams a list of items or tasks they have to complete in the time given. To make your teens think, make the description of the items cryptic. A picture of Thomas Jefferson ($5 bill), or a portrait of the Queen (a stamp or money). If completing tasks such as visiting places, they can take a picture to prove they were there.
- Sailing – One way to get the team to work together is to send them on a sailing day. The skipper will teach them how to work as a crew, and they will not only learn how to work together, but also learn a new skill.
- Drops – Drops are where you drop off the team of teenagers somewhere. They then have to work out how to get to a given location in a time limit.
You can make it easier by getting them to travel to a tall building that they can see from the start point. Or you could make it harder by blindfolding them when taking them to the start, so that they don’t know where they are.
- Soap Box Cart Gravity Racing – Use a wooden soap box crate, stick some pram wheels on and race them down hills.
- Now Get Out Of That Challenges – Now Get Out of That was a UK TV programme where teams had to navigate to a given location. There they would be given a puzzle or challenge to solve. Successful completion would give the teams the clue to the next location. The team challenges included river crossings and working out how to boil some water using only a sheet of paper and a candle.
- Swamp Crossing – Create a swamp, and then the teams have to cross it without touching the ground. They can be provided with a variety of useful and unhelpful equipment. Planks and bricks are commonly used. You can also get the teams to make a bridge.
- The Great Egg Race – Invention to solve a problem such as build a device to carry an egg the furthest over a course, or a rocket/parachute that can bring an egg back safely to earth.
- Monopoly Runs – Monopoly Runs are a race around a virtual Monopoly board. This is easy if you are in London. The team has to visit all of the places named on the Monopoly board as quickly as possible. If you aren’t in London, you can create your own board with place names of where you are.
- Balance on a brick – How many people can balance on a brick at once? You can use any surface to hand, such as a milk crate. Or how many can you get in a phone box or in a car.
- Blindfold tent pitching – This is straightforward, but is prone to lots of cheating and peeking.
- Blindfold instructions – This trust building game involves a member of the team being blindfolded and guided by voice around an obstacle course. If more than one team goes at once, this adds lots of confusion as the people who are blindfolded are not sure if the instructions are for them or not.
- Construction – Get the team to build something. Anything.
- Lego structure copy – Make a Lego structure out of different coloured bricks and place it in the next room. Each team is given a set of bricks to build an exact copy of the Lego structure.
- Follow the plans – Give each team a set of plans that tell them how to do or build something. What you don’t tell them is that you have not given them a full set of instructions. Take one page from each set of instructions and put it into the instruction for another team.
- Be dramatic – If you live in NYC or San Francisco, there are some great theatre improvisation sessions that you can go to. The team building sessions get everyone working together, having fun, and even performing some comedy.
- Human Marble Run – Give each member of the team a length of gutter or drainpipe. The team has to convey a tennis ball or golf ball from one place to another by rolling the ball from one piece of gutter to the next.
- Learn a new sport – Sharing the learning experience is a great way to get a team to bond.
- Chocolate making or cooking– Make a giant bar of chocolate
- The Search Party – Practice carrying out a search party. You could even get the real emergency services involved for the practice and education.
- Raft Building – Give them lots of poles, ropes and large barrels to lash together to form a raft. Then have a race or get them to cross a river.
- Egg Tower Construction – Yes it’s the “build a tower using drinking straws and tape to support an egg.” No need to say any more.
- The levitating Stick or Helium Stick – This team building activity involves the team getting into two rows facing each other. Everyone holds out their index finger and you place a lightweight cane or stick so that it rests on everyone’s fingers. The team then have to lower the stick to the ground whilst keeping their fingers in contact with the stick. What happens is that someone will usually apply more pressure on the stick and it will go up a bit. Someone else realises that their finger is not longer touching the stick so they raise their finger. The stick then ends up magically levitating up into the air as everyone lifts their fingers.
It takes coordination to get the stick to the ground.
- Bridge Building and other river crossings – Create a virtual river using two long pieces of rope. Give the teams equipment to make a bridge. If you are feeling adventurous, do it over a real stream or river.
- The Wall – Find an assault course that has a ten foot wall in it. The team has to get everyone over the wall.
- Water Barrel Swap – Tie a pulley to a tree branch and pass a rope through it. Tie a barrel to each end of the rope. Fill one barrel with water. Then fence off an area around the barrels. The challenge is to swap positions of the barrels without anyone touching the floor inside the fenced off area, or touch the barrels.
- Human Knot – Everyone crowds together and randomly holds someone else’s hands. They then have to unravel themselves without letting go.
- Circle Lap Sit – Get everyone into a circle. Everyone then turns to face the person to their left. They all then sit on the lap of the person behind. If done at the same time, everyone ends up sitting on a lap self supporting. If not, people fall on the floor.
- Parachute Games – Take one large parachute and play team building games with it.
- Location Hunt from Photo – Give the teams a set of photos of places in the area. They then have to go to those places and prove they were there.
- Dragon Boat Racing – Get the team working together to paddle a dragon boat in a race. Rowing is another idea.
- Canoe catamaran trust – Using two canoes, balance beams between them and the team leader sits on the beam. Teams then canoe a course around the lake
- Canal Lock Navigation – Guide a canal boat through a lock
- Technology Transmissions – Get the teams to use technology to solve a puzzle or challenge.
- Group plank skiing – You need two planks with loops of rope attached to them. The team stands with a foot on each plank holding the rope. They then have to walk the plank skis to the end of the room or field.
- White water Rafting – Send your teens white water rafting. They need to listen to the instructor and work together to paddle in the right direction.
- Paintball – Paintball can be a great way to get teams to work together. They will need to formulate plans, adapt them during the game, and work together to win.
- Water Fights – Using water fights as a team building activity gives you plenty of scope to adapt to your environment. You can use rivers, lakes, boats, or just two large barrels of water at each end of a field for them to refill from.
- Wide Games – Games played over a wide area, usually at night. The most popular is capture the flag.
- Balance Board – Balance a ball on a large sheet of hardboard. As a team carry it around a course without the ball falling off. A bit like egg and spoon races.
This outdoor team building activities list is an ever growing free resource, so bookmark this page for when you need ideas for more team building.