Team Building Activity: Adventure Races

Want to incorporate a little competition into your next team building session? Look no further than Adventure Races! Designed for small teams to compete, these quick and exciting challenges are perfect for encouraging active participation and teamwork among groups. Adventure Races are ideal for groups who will be spending an extended period of time together, because they are short challenges that can be completed throughout the day (or across a few days) to help give breaks from other work.

To begin the activity, divide your group into teams of 3-7 people each, and let them know that sometimes adventure means taking on new, exciting challenges. It’s important that, as a team, they face them together, and it’s often easier to complete tasks as a group rather than as an individual. Let them know they will be competing with other teams during the Adventure Races.

Explain that they will have three challenges to complete with their small group, and for each challenge they will receive points. As the facilitator, you will be responsible for keeping track of everyone’s score. The team with the highest score after all three challenges is the winner!


Pasta Challenge

Time Needed: 10 minutes

Materials: A package of dry spaghetti (NOT angel hair) and a bucket for each team

Directions: Set up for this activity by giving each team a package of pasta and putting a bucket on the floor 15 feet away.

Teams should be given five minutes to move as many pieces of pasta as possible to the bucket. The team will need to work in pairs to move the pasta to the bucket by holding the pasta end to end between their index fingers. Each pair may only move one piece of pasta at a time. Once the pasta is between the pairs’ index fingers, they can’t touch the pasta with any other part of their bodies. If the pasta breaks, they must get another piece and start over. If the pasta falls, they must pick it up and start over as well. The team will receive one point for each piece of pasta they place in the bucket at the end of the allotted five minutes.

After five minutes, end the game and add up all the points.

Debrief Questions:

  • What happened during this activity?
  • What were some of the challenges?
  • How did your team communicate?
  • What could have been done differently to make it go smoother?
  • How can you apply this to your team project?


Hidden Treasure Challenge

Time Needed: 15 minutes

Materials: Drawing of hidden treasure, several sheets of blank paper and a pencil for each team

Directions: Set up for this activity by hiding a drawing of a hidden treasure in a spot close to where your group is gathered. Make sure they do not know where it is and cannot easily see it. Provide each team with a blank piece of paper and a pencil.

Let the teams know that there is hidden treasure somewhere in the room, but we don’t know what it looks like. Tell them that the goal of the activity is to find the secret drawing of the treasure, and replicate the drawing. The challenge is that only one person can look at the drawing and describe it to their team (this person will be the reporter). Assign each team a reporter. The reporter will be the one to go look at the secret drawing in its hiding place and report back to the team regarding what they saw. The reporter is not allowed to draw; they can only describe what the other drawing looks like. The other team members are responsible for following the reporter’s instructions and replicating the drawing on their own paper.

The reporter can only look at the drawing for up to 30 seconds at a time to memorize and report back. The team will have a total of ten minutes to replicate the drawing.

To score this challenge, the team will get five points if the drawing looks similar and five points if they finished the task in the ten minutes allotted.

Debrief Questions:

  • What process did your team go through to complete the task? If you weren’t able to complete it, what were some of the issues you encountered?
  • What did this teach you about problem solving?
  • What were some of the emotions that came up for you? Did you get frustrated or excited?
  • How does this activity relate to communicating with your team?


Paper and Straws Challenge

Time Needed: 10 minutes

Materials: One drinking straw for each participant, one sheet of paper and flipchart paper. On the flipchart paper, draw three circles in the shape of a bullseye, and designate 500 points for the small inner circle, 100 points for the medium-sized middle circle and 50 points for the large outer circle.

Directions: Set up for this activity by taping the flip chart paper flat in the middle of a table and making ten dime-sized balls by wadding up bits of the sheet of paper provided. Each team member should be given their own drinking straw.

Place two of the balls on the outside edge of the paper, and keep the other balls hidden. Let team members know that the goal of the challenge is to blow into their straws to push the balls onto the paper and in one of the circles. Once the team gets both balls in a circle, add two more balls to the outside of the paper, and tell the team that they must move the balls into the circles without moving balls that are already in place. Do this three more times until all the balls are in play.

End the game once all the balls are on the paper and in a circle or when five minutes are up. Add up their points according to where their balls are positioned on the bullseye.

Debrief Questions:

  • What was your experience during the activity?
  • What did you learn about your team through this activity?
  • How’d your plan work to get the balls where you wanted them?
  • What would you do differently if you had more time to plan?
  • How can you apply this to working on your team project?
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