Tips for Successful Raft Building

Sink or swim? Learn how to avoid doing both by building a robust raft that floats and provides team stability. Raft building is a great activity for groups of 4 or more people. It is perfect for stag or hen parties, families, work colleagues or any group of friends.

What Does Raft Building Involve?

Raft building involves using a selection of materials provided to build a floating raft or platform on which you can stand or sit. The aim can be just to successfully build something that floats, get to the other side of a lake or river, or to race against another group.

The construction of a raft involves tying or lashing wooden poles, barrels and other materials together with rope. The knots you use for raft building will ensure that everything stays together, or perhaps not.

Raft Building Designs

Woman with child on a wooden raft

The design of your raft will depend on the materials you have been given. You will usually get some wooden poles for the frame. Barrels are used to provide containers of air that float. These provide the buoyancy you need to keep afloat.
When you are arguing, I mean discussing your raft design, stability is key. Just because it floats doesn’t necessarily mean that you can all stay on top of it. The higher the raft is above the water compared with how wide it is will affect stability.

Rafts come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s up to your imagination and creativity to explore what can be built.

Raft Building Games

Teams raft racing with one team falling in the water
Raft racing challenges the team’s coordination, creativity and balance
The most common raft building game is to race other teams across a lake or river. You can place a buoy in the water so that the teams have to paddle their rafts out to the buoy, go around it and come back to shore. Sometimes you can get the teams to carry an object, or collect something.
Water fights are always a great raft building game.
You can make the construction into a game by limiting the amount of time the teams have to build their raft.

How to Use Raft Building for Team Building or Activity Days

Raft building can be used for team building to develop team work and leadership, or just for having fun. Raft building is often done as a half day session, or combined with other activities to form a full day session.
Most outdoor activity centres provide raft building. You can go raft building at Center Parcs with your friends or family on the lake.

Raft Building Tips

My top tips for raft building are:

  1. Build a sturdy frame for the raft first, but position barrels in each corner so you know where they will fit.
  2. Use a barrel in each corner for stability
  3. More barrels make it float better, but doesn’t make it more stable
  4. Make the frame as wide and long as possible for stability
  5. Don’t use too many planks or poles for the frame, because it makes the raft heavier
  6. Make sure you have somewhere to sit on your raft
  7. Remember to have something to paddle with or use to push yourself along
  8. Always wear buoyancy aids
  9. Make sure your barrels are tied on very tightly. I have seen barrels come loose and everyone get dumped into the water
  10. Wear something on your feet to avoid standing on sharp objects in the water when you have to get off the raft

If you think raft building is a bit too sedate for you, how about getting wet and wild by going white water rafting?





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