The Human Knot

The human knot is a simple game that can be played to help teach a group the value of working together to solve the problem. At YSuperstars we belive that every problem has a solution, and we have a saying here: “Work the problem.” Which means we are currently thinking and discussing ways to solve a problem, instead of wasting time on complaining about things we cannot control.

Start this game with everyone in a circle. Have everyone grab someone else’s hand in the circle with each hand. The only rule is that they cannot grab someone’s hand who is immediately to their left or their right.

Now the goal of this game is to “untangle this human knot” without letting go of each other’s hands. At the end of the activity everyone should be in standing in a circle again with their hands holding onto the people next to them.

As a facilitator of this activity some useful observations are:

1. Who are your leaders? Who are the ones who immediately step up to try and solve the problem? Who are the ones who immediately jump in and start to act? You might be surprised who your leaders are. Some of your natural leaders may not be the ones who were hired to be leaders!

2. Who are your followers? It has been said before that those who are great leaders also know how to be great followers. Being lead is a hard skill that not everyone possess. Who are the great number twos who are supporting the natural leaders, and who are the ones who are great at supporting someone who instantly comes up with a plan?

Questions for Reflection:

1. How did this exercise make you feel?

2. What did you like about this game?

3. What made you really frustrated about this game?

4. How can this game be a metaphor for how we work together as a team in our camp setting?

Counting to Ten

Counting to ten is a fun teambuilding game that can also be used as a great icebreaker for a camp staff training or a meeting.

Start out by explaining that we are trying to count to ten together as a group. If we are sitting or standing in a circle we are not allowed to go in order from right to left and count to ten. One person can only say one number at a time. So the same person cannot count on their own one to ten. And we are not allowed to plan out how we count to ten together.

If anyone says the same number as someone else we need to start the game over again. Consider only giving them a limited number of tries to raise the stakes slightly.

Then the leader should start off counting one, and then see if the group can count all the way to ten together. If the group has a hard time doing this task consider giving them a hint to look at each other’s body language and try to communicate with each other using their eyes.

Discussion Questions:

1. How was it completing a task that you could not plan out ahead of time?

2. Did you find it difficult not being able to talk to each other?

3. How were you able to complete this task, or why were you not able to do this as a group?

4. How can we relate this game to what we do at camp?

Magic Carpet

This game is played with a piece of newspaper, a beach towel, a table cloth, or small blanket.

Whatever you choose to use explain to everyone that this is a magic carpet and we are going to use this magic carpet to go on a journey together.

Variation One:

Start out the game by having everyone standing on magic carpet. Whatever you are using should be big enough that everyone should be able to stand on the surface easily. Then fold the surface in half, and explain that everyone needs to get on it again. Keep folding the magic carpet again and again.

Let them use their brains and creativity to solve this project. By the end of the game you will see people carrying each other, and people on each other’s back.

Variation Two:

Another variation of this game is to explain that the magic carpet is flying through the air, but that the steering wheel for the carpet is on the other side of the carpet so that they need to figure out how to flip the carpet over without getting off of the carpet, because you know then they will fall to their deaths.

So the object of this game is to flip over the surface without anyone being allowed to step off the surface. If someone does accidently step off, even with their littlest toe then the entire activity needs to starts over.

Discussion Questions:

1. What was hard about this game?

2. What was the biggest challenge that you overcame?

3. How did you eventually solve the problem?

4. How can you use what you learned in this game to work out solution to other problems you might find while working in camp?

Tower of Balloons

This is a great game to do with a bunch of very competitive people. However, it is important to set up the game as if this is a competition, but make sure you never explicitly say to anyone that this is a competition.

However with this game it can only really be done once with a group of people, before it loses most of its magic. This is good for a group of people who you have never done this game with, but struggle with being a little too competitive with each other.

In this game make sure you break up your group into at least two teams. For larger games you can have more than two teams, just use whatever makes sense for the group that you are working with.

Give each team a pack or two of balloons, and a roll of tape. Then expain to them that you are giving them a certain amount of time to make the biggest and tallest balloon structure that they can make.

Let the time run out while the teams are making their towers. Most people will instinctively assume that this is a competition, and will be trying to out do each other and make their tower the biggest and the tallest.

After the time has run out make everyone stop and inspect their balloon towers. Do not declare a winner, but ask them if they assumed it was a competition, and why they thought it was a competition.

Have a discussion on why not everything in life is a zero sum game, and sometimes the object of a task is to literally do the best you can without worrying about what someone else is doing.

It is also good to discuss what we can do to be better supporters of each other, and why we as people can often feel threatened by the success of others. What can we do to be better cheerleaders for each other? And why it is so important to cheer each other on?

How can we use what we learned in this activity to be better teammates for each other this camp season?

Lava Cross

This is a great team building game where groups need to work together to try and solve a problem. This is best to be used as a relay race type of structure.

Set up the playing field by having two safe zones, the starting area, and the finish area, that are the only safe places to step. Between the starting area and the finish area is a lava field. If even the smallest part of your body touches the field you will burn up and have to start the game over.

In the first round give them four stepping stones that the participants can use to get the entire group from one side of the field to the other. Use pieces of paper, poly spots, small matts, or something else to make the stepping stones. Make it harder by giving them a time limit to get this done.

Also, consider using three or two stepping stones as well to make this task more difficult.

Discussion Questions:

1. What did you find challenging about this task?

2. How were you able to solve this task?

3. How can you relate this task to problems you might face in a camp setting?