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top 5 team building game for youth

Top 5 Team Building Games for Youth

By Doug Franklin November 6, 2019

Use these five fun, interactive team building games for your youth ministry to help your students engage with one another and build trust in a real and memorable way.

For each team building game you will find:

  • A short description
  • What equipment is needed
  • Instructions for setting up the game
  • A list of ground rules
  • Instructions for introducing the game
  • Questions for debriefing

You can download the full PDF HERE.

1. Trust ladder

SHORT DESCRIPTION:

trust ladder youth group game

For this team building game, the team must successfully get all team members to cross over the trust ladder to the other side.

EQUIPMENT:

One dowel rod for every 2 people Several blindfolds (optional)

SETUP:

Find a space large enough for half the group to form a straight line with room at each end. Break the group into pairs. Have the team form two straight lines with pair partners standing face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder with the person next to them. Give each pair one dowel rod.

(Optional: To increase the level of challenge, blindfold several team members.)

GROUND RULES:

  1. Each person must hold his/her end of the dowel rod to form a horizontal ladder.
  2. Each set of partners (one at a time) must successfully cross over the trust ladder to the other side.
  3. If someone falls off the ladder, the entire team starts again from the beginning.

INTRODUCING THE GAME:

Say something like, “Your team was hiking through the Rocky Mountains when you came to a deep ravine. There is a rickety ladder that connects one side to the other. Your team must cross the ladder in order to continue its hike and reach your destination.”

QUESTIONS FOR TEAM DEBRIEFING:

  1. What have you learned about your team’s willingness to trust one another?
  2. When did your team struggle? do well?
  3. Did you trust your teammates to help you, especially if you were blinded-folded?

2. Log Rolling

SHORT DESCRIPTION:

log rolling youth group game

The team must arrange itself in a particular order without falling off the “log” for this team building game.

EQUIPMENT:

One or two 2×4 boards Blindfolds (optional)

SETUP:

Place the board on a flat surface where it will be visible if someone falls off. If you are using two boards, place them so that the ends are touching. Have every member of the team get on the board.

GROUND RULES:

  1. All team members must be on the “log” (board) at all times.
  2. Team members must line up in a given order. (e.g. birthday, height, or last name)
  3. If anyone falls off the “log”, everyone must go back to their original positions.

(Optional: To increase the challenge use blindfolds on some participants or instruct the team to accomplish the challenge without talking. )

INTRODUCING THE GAME:

Say something like, “You have been sent on a dangerous mission by your government to explore new lands for conquest. You need to cross a deep and narrow chasm before you can continue your journey. A large log spans the gap. Halfway across you realized that everyone is in the wrong order. You need to reorder yourselves while on the log without falling off.”

QUESTIONS FOR TEAM DEBRIEFING:

  1. What challenges did you face in this team building game?
  2. What led to your team’s success?
  3. How easy or hard was it to trust your teammates?

3. Magic shoes

SHORT DESCRIPTION:

magic shoes youth group game

The team must cross a “hot desert” using only a set of “magic shoes.”

EQUIPMENT:

Rope or cones to mark boundaries

SETUP:

This works best in a large room, a hallway, or outside. There should be about 15 large steps between the start line and finish line.

GROUND RULES:

  1. Each person in the group can only wear the “magic shoes” one time, going in one direction.
  2. The “magic shoes” can’t be thrown or separated.
  3. No one can touch the sand.

INTRODUCING THE GAME:

Have the entire group stand behind the boundary line and say something like: Your team has been wandering through the desert for weeks. You are stranded at an oasis where the water has been completely used up. You can see an oasis across the way but the sand is too hot to walk on. Unfortunately, the hot sand melted all but one pair of shoes. These invisible magic shoes have some special properties and will allow your team to cross the desert. Each person, however, can only wear the “magic shoes” one time, going in one direction.

QUESTIONS FOR TEAM DEBRIEFING:

  1. What were some of the obstacles you faced?
  2. How did you overcome those obstacles? If there were any obstacles you didn’t overcome, why not?
  3. How important was planning ahead? How important was making changes?
  4. In other groups or areas of leadership you are involved with, what obstacles are you facing?
  5. What changes can you make or what plans can you put in place to overcome those obstacles?

4. Electric wire

SHORT DESCRIPTION:

The team must pass under an “electric wire” without touching the wire or compromising their integrity.

electric wire youth group game

EQUIPMENT:

String (the best is elastic string from the fabric store, but yarn or any thin, but visible string will do) and two chairs (or two stationary objects for string to be tied to like a pole or table leg).

SETUP:

Tie the string between the two chairs (about 10 feet apart). The string should be taut and only 1.5 to 2 ft. above the ground (i.e. right at the crux of a folding chair). The entire team begins on one side of the string.

GROUND RULES:

  1. Nothing can touch the ground except the bottom of your shoes (not even pants, socks, or hair).
  2. Nothing can touch the wire (string) or the chairs at any time.
  3. The whole team must pass under the wire in order to succeed.
  4. If any of these rules are broken, the whole team must go back to the beginning and start over.

INTRODUCING THE GAME:

Say something like: Brinks Security System has been working on some new high-end security measures for museums.They have just finished working on an electric wire system and are now in the testing phase. They have hired your group to test it out. Your goal is to get the whole group under this electric wire and to the other side without touching it. But it’s not as easy as it looks. There are a couple things you need to know in order to avoid triggering the alarm.

QUESTIONS FOR TEAM DEBRIEFING:

  1. What was necessary for your team to accomplish this task?
  2. Why were these (the above mentioned) important and crucial to your success?
  3. What was your team’s greatest moment? When did your team seem to be the most frustrated?
  4. How did integrity play into the success/failure of this initiative? How does integrity play into the success/failure of your leadership?

5. islands

islands youth group game

SHORT DESCRIPTION:

A team must cross a “dangerous swamp” while remaining connected to one another and using only a set of carpet squares or wooden blocks.

EQUIPMENT:

Island Blocks (carpet squares, small towels, bricks, 1×6 wood boards) Rope for boundaries, Optional blindfolds, Stopwatch or timer

SETUP:

Set the blocks out according to the diagram below. Identify the starting and ending lines with rope (about 15 feet apart).

GROUND RULES:

  1. The initiative begins when the entire team is connected (holding hands), and they must remain this way the entire time.
  2. If any member of the team touches the “swamp” at any time during the initiative the entire team must start over at the starting line.
  3. Once the team has touched an “island”, a member of the team must always have contact with that “island” (a foot on it) until the last team member passes that “island.”
  4. The team successfully completes the initiative when every team member makes it past the finish line using only the “islands”- with no “swamp” touches, “island” misses, or disconnections.
  5. Rules can be added, modified, or changed at anytime.
  6. To make this activity more challenging or to add variations, consider placing blindfolds on different islands. As the team reaches that island a team member must put the blindfold on. Make a loop shape with the islands or even limit who may speak.
islands team building game for youth

INTRODUCING THE GAME:

Say something like, “You have come to a deep swamp filled with dangerous leeches that have giant appetites. Luckily there is a line of islands that reach across the swamp. Your team must cross the islands to reach the other side. There are a few catches. Your team must hold hands while any one is on the islands to make sure no one falls in and after a foot touches an island that island must have a foot on it at all times until the last team member removes his foot. On the other side of the swamp is your source of transportation home.”

QUESTIONS FOR DEBRIEFING:

  1. What was difficult about this activity? Why?
  2. How did evaluation and goal setting help the process?
  3. Where in your life might evaluation and goal setting help you become more successful?

With these team building games, you group will learn to work together as a team and have fun while doing it! Team building games are a very important teaching tool in the leadership development process, but what makes them transformational is when they’re guided by great debrief questions. Check out this article on how to ask debrief questions for team building games.

You can also check out these other awesome games from Youth Group Games for more ideas.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More