Portable Teambuilding Activities: Games, Initiatives, and Team Challenges for Any Space

ISBN: 978-1-939019-14-1
SIZE: 7.75 x 9.25
PRICE $32.95

An evocative list—FUN, choice of challenge, discussion, compassion, self-efficacy, respect, acceptance, integrity, discovery, teamwork—all integral parts of experiential/adventure education. Did you notice the bold first word in this magic list? Fortunately, Chris Cavert, is a dedicated FUN magnet, and your welcoming guide to active participation (from the Foreword by Karl Rohnke).

This book is filled with a variety of teambuilding activities with a range of challenge levels.These activities can be used with middle and high school students, college students, and adult groups of all ages and backgrounds. Most of the challenges require easy-to-find props and equipment, others require some extra effort before you play. All the activities can be resources to add to powerful and positive pro-social development programs.
If you can answer “Yes” to any one of the following questions, then we can confidently say, “This book IS for you.”
• Are you an educator or counselor of middle or high school students interested in building a stronger community in your classroom, gym, or school?
• Do you work with adult populations helping them build stronger teams, communities, and workplace relationships?
• Are you an adventure education facilitator working with groups of all ages on challenge courses, teambuilding programs, and wilderness trips?
• Do you want to make a positive impact on the social development of the people you teach and the people with which you work?
• Are you interested in making the space around you, and even the world, a more peaceful place to live?
• Are you willing to “approach each new person you meet in a spirit of adventure?”


“This book will help take your skills to the next level and give you lots of new and fresh ideas to make your facilitation fun.”
—Will Wise, Director of Team Development Center at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, Penn State University, and founder of We!

“WOW. I am sooo excited about this book. I want a group to play with right now. I love the ideas and the variations.”
—Kathy Haras, PhD, Vice President, Adventureworks!, Ontario, Canada

“I read through the instructions, seeing new activities, and saying to myself, ‘I’ve got to go try these!’”
—Sam Sikes, DoingWorks, Inc., Liberty Hill, TX

“Chris is the ultimate teambuilding resource. This book is a must read for anyone looking to improve group performance. You can always count on Chris for the latest in games, initiatives, and team challenges! Thanks, Chris!”
—Michael Wax, Director of Programming, Beber Camp, Mukwonago, WI

“These initiatives are fun, exciting, and extremely creative. I am so excited about this book. Chris is, by far, one of the most gifted and talented leaders in this industry.”
—Kimberley Self, Physical Education and Adventure Instructor, Parish Episcopal School Midway Campus, Dallas, TX

“I love it! What is really special about this book is that Chris is willing to share his thoughts and experiences when explaining how to do the activities. Chris is a master facilitator.”
—Rich Keegan, 2013 Connecticut Experiential Educator of the Year, author of Global Games for Diversity Education

“This book is a comprehensive resource for facilitators seeking fresh new activities as well as those who are building customized programs for virtually any audience, in any space, at all challenge levels.”
—Scott Goldsmith, MS, LPC, author of Experiential Group Counseling Activities for Enhancing Emotional Intelligence

Excerpt from the Book

Activity Objective: The group is challenged to properly move the “Noodle Poppers” from one point to another.
Facilitated Objective: cooperation, planning and implementation, resilience, active engagement/participation (differences in…), goal setting, resource management, community, self-talk (as the work is being done), and strategizing
Needs & Numbers: 50 to 60 poppers are needed for a group of 10 to 20 players—the more poppers the longer the activity (a popper is a 1-inch slice of a pool noodle cut in half).
Time: 20 to 40 minutes (depending on the distance to be covered)

Set out all the poppers in one place—point A. Show everyone how to properly pop the poppers—hold the popper as shown in the picture and then squeeze the index finger and thumb toward each other until the popper launches itself, with a pop, away from the hand. Give players time to practice before beginning. Let everyone know where they need to end up—point B. Allow a designated amount of time for players to devise a plan before you start the migration. The objective is to move, only by popping, the poppers from point A to point B.

I first tried this activity with a group of high school students attending a leadership camp. One of the program goals was to help them prepare to work together throughout the coming school year. My facilitated objective for Migration was to simulate a long-term project/task and help them discover the aspects (and emotions) involved. I set out all the poppers in a line across a sidewalk. The activity objective was to move the poppers (the grasshoppers in my story, needing help with their long journey) about 50 yards. It was a timed event. As with any new activity, I never really know what will happen. As we learn in adventure education, even if we have done an activity 100 times, we are bound to see something new. For this group, it was an interesting discovery. What I observed could be interpreted as how each person in the group might work on a long (time consuming) task. The participants made a plan to just form a line across the width of the sidewalk and pop as they go—bend over, pick up a popper, and pop it along the course. Soon after the plan was put into action, a participant (P1) said, “This is going so slow, I just want to get one across to the end!” P1 proceeded to pick up a popper and pop it to point B. P1 then continued this process one popper at a time. Meanwhile, the main crowd of poppers were sitting down, continuing to pop away—talking amongst themselves as they popped. Two other participants eventually broke from the sitting group, gathered about a dozen poppers, and worked by themselves to move their poppers forward—they were mostly “duck-walking” down the sidewalk, popping. Then about five other participants worked together to move a couple dozen poppers; some bending down and others squatting as they stayed together talking and popping. The five remaining sitters continued to slowly “sweep” the poppers left behind by those in front of them. Another interesting dynamic was that, even with all these different styles of working, everyone in the group finished at the same time.
I shared my observations with the adult leaders and group members. It was interesting to see how the participants’ response to this activity could be applied to a long-term task. One needed immediate success and was willing to work on her own to get it. Two were after success faster than most but were willing to sacrifice some time for more productivity. Five worked together, stuck with it, socialized a bit and moved a good number of poppers. The remaining five were willing to stay engaged, but conserved energy by sitting down. They were not focused on the speed of the task, they were more interested in, what I like to call, socially tasking. We were able to debrief the experience and make some transferable connections to their future work together. Metaphorically, to some degree, the group experienced their working needs, gaining ideas about how to delegate long-term task assignments.

The only limitation I placed on the group was proper popping form. “The grasshoppers” I noted, “really appreciate the extra pop they get in their travels, but, they become disoriented when they are thrown—go figure.” So, I did a little policing and reminding when throwing behaviors popped up (sorry!).

• How would you categorize this task? What one word could you use to describe it?
• Did the task capture your interest? Why, or why not?
• As you progressed through the activity, what are some of the things you remember thinking along the way? Does this thinking process occur to you during other (long term) tasks in your everyday life? How does this work for you? In what way could this be different for you?
• Did you get bored during the activity? Why or why not? What are some ways to make something less boring? What are some of your strategies to make things/tasks more interesting? How do these behaviors serve you in positive ways and negative ways? How might you change some of your behaviors for the better?
• Thinking back on the activity, what were some of the observations you made about the process? About your group members? About yourself? What would you consider to be some of your learnings from these observations? How can these learnings help you?
• What long-term tasks are you bound to face in your future? What do you want to remember when it comes to moving through these types of tasks?

Varying the distance to be covered can truly change the dynamics of the task. I’m guessing there would be less sitting with a shorter distance. I would also assume, going in, that more of the group would stick together. (I’ll have to experiment with this. If you collect some data, let me know.)
Playing cards (I have used two decks) are an interesting prop to use for Migration. I do ask my groups to keep the cards in their original shape as they migrate—cards are “flicked” instead of popped during this variation. Migration is another good transition activity for moving your group from one program area to another (see Breather and Jigsawed for other transitional activities).

Table of Contents

Section One: Initiative Tests
Getting Names
Liner Quotes
The DaKine Game
Statue Tag
Noodle Lock & Key Tag
Figure 8
Boogie Ball
Pressure Cooker
Fast Ball
One More Chance
Surfing the Web
Target Dilemma
Word Circle Puzzles
Trilogy 1
The Crossings
There & Back
Pressure Play Too
Quinn-tessential Challenge
Knot Around Here
Trilogy 2
Coiled Rope
5-Point Star
Shooting Star
Fill In
Group Poem
Calvinball Challenge
Group Jump
Section Two: Notable Variations
Drop Stop
What Can You Make of It, Too?
Noodle Speed Rabbit
Pro-Noodle Tag
Eye Contact Partner Tag
Ship to Shore
Team Flashback Tag
Flashback Tag Unlimited
Limb-itless Moonball
Luna Launching
Sound Movements
What Are Your Chickens
Falling Star
Number Cards
Bull Ring, Clipping In
Traffic Jam: Puzzling Norms
Section Three: Portable Elements
Blue Portal
BT Shuffle
Flip the Tube
Find Your Island
Railroad Crossing
Traveling Puzzle
The Great Hole Tarp
Leaky Pickles
PVCystem Portable Elements Kit Make It in 4 Steps
Blind Roll
Overhead Crane
Electric Amoeba
Razor’s Edge
Lines of Communication
Body Parts
Object Pass
The Web We Weave (a.k.a., Rope Pass)
One Way (a.k.a., Spider Web)
Double Pass Spider Web
Horizontal Spider Web
House Trap
Appendix A: Facilitated Objectives
List of Activities/Alphabetized
Appendix B: Equipment Needs
Appendix C: Calvinball
About the Author
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