Team Building Games and Ideas


As part of my travels I once got involved in a help exchange project in a Malaysian rainforest, one of the last untouched few in South East Asia, to develop a team building program for local factory and other workers. The below notes are what I have compiled so far, as that project ended. They are a synopsis of many webpages, much of which I have saved in this team building folder for your perusal, which I have also saved as a compressed zip file (37MB) for your offline perusal. This all should give you many ideas for games and how to organize such a project yourself.

HelpX approach letter:

we operate a Rain Forest Island Resort which is 7 acres in size. Our island is in the middle of a 15000 hectors man made hydro electric dam in the state of Perak, our island is part of the 150 million years old rain forest of Malaysia.

we have chalets on our island and also has 3  houseboats parking close to our island, kayak, sailing boats ( catamaran ) and power speed boats are some of our recreational facilities.
Our business is running an eco lodge providing meals and outdoor adventures activities to our guest.
we are embarking in several conservation projects with the intention to enhance the eco system in and around our island.

Right now we are in need of people with teambuilding experience, as we would like to incorporate this service with the eco-tourism concept.
We are also seeking experienced nature guides who could help us set up such a program.

Additionally, we need volunteers with knowledge and experience in building fresh water marine reef around our island to create an environment for the native fish species to multiply. ( marine biologist ) is preferable.
we also need volunteers who is knowledgeable in organic agriculture, to carry out organic planting.
we need volunteers ( biologist )to assist in specific program like birds feeding, creating artificial nesting site for hornbill, improving our island land scape and expand our fleet of non motorise water sports like sailing and kayaking. training our foreign staff as nature guide.
The exact location of our island resort is Tasik Temengor Latitude 5,48109 Longitude 101,35849 on the google map.
The minimum duration for this volunteer programme is 2 months. please feel free to contact me if interested,

Thank you,
Steve Khong


5 Critical Issues


Social cohesiveness refers to the bonds of interpersonal attraction that link group members.

– developed with fun games

Task cohesiveness refers to the way in which skills and abilities of the group members mesh to allow optimal performance.

– To develop task cohesiveness, activities that allow the group members to assess one another’s talents, strengths and weaknesses are useful

(continue reading from “Roles and Norms” at _articles\fiveissues.pdf – below file references will always be preceded by ” c:\Users\goof\Documents\Downloads\erase\rainforest place in Malaysia\_TEAMBUILDING\”, whereby the contents of this folder have been uploaded to the above-mentioned team building folder.)


– explains rules of game well, but in a nurturing and not autocratic way. Important that everyone understands what’s at play and that it is all fun.

– ME: if get a group, try to get a report by its employer etc. to identify what weaknesses/problems it has (certain individuals or anything) in order to plan for a strategy and pick out appropriate games etc.

– for emotionally troubled or sensitive cases or bruised groups/relationships, teambuilding might be detrimental and cause people to bottle up and become defensive, cause teambuilding implies they have some problem. Better to help them or apply workshops or other means: If you focus on the problem it will become a battlefield. Instead focus on fun, new positive experiences and self-fulfilment. Encourage them to suggest their own fun things to do.

General Notes onTeamBuilding

– trail up to tower, they have five minutes to devise a strategy, then they are timed to see how long it takes until all of them are at the top of the tower. Make a spreadsheet for each team: how many people, average age, oldest person, time, number of guys&number of girls, special notes like if someone is in a wheelchair etc. Compare all this at the end against previous groups, print it out as part of package at end

– create groups of four for certain events. At the beginning ask everyone to answer the top four people they’d like to be in a group with, and the bottom four. Then shuffle it up appropriately. Tell them the story of when I was planting and got closer to people in smaller camps, and with people I wouldn’t normally hang out with. Learned to be less judgemental on first impression. Goal of weekend is for them to find some important things they didn’t know about members of this group and try to get to know them better. At end there can be a prize for the group that improved the most. Take picture of them as a group just as form them, and at the end, to show a comparison in the end video.

– team must decide on a name for themselves at some point

– think of conferences as well, since they have the projector upstairs. Perhaps can combine with my or another’s computer somehow. More pleasant environment for business people to generate creative thoughts, and can relax during the daytime with pleasant activities.

– throughout the weekend or whatever encourage people to offer their feedback to help me improve it. Bottom line is they should enjoy their time here while being challenged, develop and learn something valuable. Need to have a tightish schedule to pack in the weekend, but have enough R&R periods so people can do own shit and enjoy themselves.

– consider reading up more on the psychological aspect of all this <Jung’s Man and His Symbols>, and perhaps offer some brief seminar at the beginning so that everyone knows what is at play and the overall purpose of the exercise (to increase productivity at work and personal work enjoyment of every member of the team).

– for each group, add to Excel file their names, age, their company, and the games applied to them, if they ever decide to come back. Perhaps some brief psychological profile of each person. Mention this in the sales website as part of promotion, and to convince the employer to send them back, so that can “continue with their development”.

– will obviously need to bring with me a notepad and pen etc. to make notes for further development of each person and other ideas (also for future teams). Consider getting a nametag for each person??

To do:

– clear an area at the top of the island by the water? Need room for a lot of this stuff.

– work on making a trail etc. on another island etc.

– put a lot of this stuff on the web later, to show what we offer???

– check out games and stuff at




– think of one with roles, props and a task. People must vote to decide who takes which role/function, and then work together to accomplish the task. Think about looking up some murder mystery games for that purpose? Voting forces groups to agree on some consensus – need to come to some agreement and learn how to work together etc.

– can expand into some sort of a play, people choosing roles that help them develop their weakness, dress up for, create their own script? Or supply them with some script ideas to help save time (give them time limit to prepare..).

– look up “survival games”. Learn how to think together to decide. Some examples here: c:\Users\goof\Documents\Downloads\erase\rainforest place in Malaysia\_TEAMBUILDING\\01_activities and exercises\_Survival Scenario Exercise\

– group decision exercise where each member first decides on their own and then group comes to a consensus and then can compare the two to show everyone the power of group decisions to the extent of each person has some knowledge, so combined is stronger. Illustrate this advantage to teach them to value the group more.

Possible Debrief Questions

  • How were decisions made?
  • Who influenced the decisions and how?
  • How could better decisions have been made?
  • Did people listen to each other? if not why not?
  • What roles did group members adopt?
  • How was conflict managed?
  • What kinds of behavior helped or hindered the group?
  • How did people feel about the decisions?
  • How satisfied was each person with the decision (ask each participant to rate his / her satisfaction out of 10, then obtain a group average and compare / discuss with other groups’ satisfaction levels)
  • What have you learnt about the functioning of this group?
  • How would you do the activity differently if you were asked to do it again?
  • What situations at work/home/school do you think are like this exercise?

– look up “problem solving puzzles” for groups, where they are provided with certain props and a problem to solve. Learn to brainstorm and work together. If fail or whatever open up discussion later to analyse it all and learn from it.

– possibly a good idea to always sit down after every game and discuss how it went and brainstorm about what happened and how it could have been improved; everyone’s natural role and so on; weaknesses/strengths

– in certain games can try to set it up like a tender, meaning that the group has to guess how long it will take them (possibly other factors) and try to accomplish their estimate (to imitate bidding on a project). Can even try to think up scenarios where the different groups bid and compete against one another for a project. Afterwards discuss everything and compare bids. Perhaps think about preparing a presentation and give that in front of the other groups. Presenters can be voted in by each group. Don’t mention “price”. Group discussion later analyzing each presentation and offer. Get higher marks if their tender price is higher but presentation and arguments made are good enough to win. Groups must submit all their points in writing first and their presentation stick to that, so that other groups cannot steal their ideas.

– have one game which develops presentation skills. Perhaps like Sonya’s debating class thing. They choose their own topic and have to sell the group on it.

– see if can develop own “Zoom” game, where you hand certain pictures to people, each member (or small subgroup) holding the picture must conceal it, and then the rest have a discussion about what they saw to eventually decide what order the pictures should be in to complete the story. Try to make own and more interesting version of this and build on this concept.

– to get ideas, can ask groups to come up with their own team-building exercises. Explain that the purpose is to work on their weaknesses, develop certain skills, and build the team as a whole. Can use previous ideas they have heard of or took part in, but should try to develop it further. Will first want to discuss their weaknesses, and what they like etc. So can tailor-design the games/exercises for their group only. Afterwards present it before all the other groups and then open to discussion: criticism/suggestions etc., and if any group wants to try it. If like it make notes yourself for future teams. Can call it “milking your brain”, for fun. Groups get evaluated on: how well they identify their weaknesses; creativity in coming up with a solution; presentation of their concept. Perhaps ask them to present their concept in written form as well (so I can steal it for future teams, heh heh).

– (sub)groups should get assessed for each activity and then the relative total scores compared at the very end. At this point can open up discussion of why they won, what everyone learned, ideas for improvement etc. When forming groups should match up people to address their weaknesses, such as person A doesn’t get along with person B etc., so will need a period of research beforehand. Get input from the employer, than combine with some personality tests etc. Issue prizes at the end based on landmark accomplishments, as already mentioned somewhere on this page (most personal development; most advances in overcome relationship obstacles with certain people etc.)

– in addition to some game where each person identifies their weaknesses (could be good at the beginning for me to get an idea what I should focus on, but to introduce those weaknesses to others – help in group bonding) with suggestions how to deal with it (always get them to write up a report so that I can analyse and use it later, but also about weaknesses concerning others and how they might solve this (perhaps allow this second part to be submitted anonymously – or people can check a box if they would be happy to mention it themselves, or me). For the report about themselves, the written one can be deeper and more extensive than what they present later…

Strings, washer, ball, cup

– good game but needs space – best if groups can compete against one another at the same time

1. Form the participants into teams of 5 –7 each.
2. Give a washer with strings to a team and instruct each team member to hang onto a string.
3. Place a ball on the washer. If the ball falls off the washer they must start again.
4. The team must work together to place the ball in the cup, can, etc. on the other side of the room.
5. One or more teams can do this at the same time as a timed event or one team at a time with observers. Teams can try again if they want.
6. Observers should watch for communication, leadership, and team work skills.

Grapefruit Neck Race

Good acquaintance game where you have groups in a row who pass grapefruits down the row, racing to see which group gets it to the other end first. Needs to be equal boys/girls.

Asshole – the card game – call President and Coffee Boy

– puts different people in different roles/hierarchies of the company to get a feeling what its like. Download < instructions. The president can tell the bottom dude to bring coffee etc?

– think about having different chairs with different roles/hierarchies and play around with a bit

– for example, one role in the company might be the psychologist or something who has to reveal something embarrassing about themselves at the beginning of each hand

The Tallest Tower

standing tower they can with the supplies given.

The Tallest Tower helps illustrate the importance of collaboration and communication and often ends with an aha! moment when teams realize they are not collaborating as well as they could be.

You will need some low-cost building supplies such as: paper cups, plates, popsicle sticks or coffee stirrers, and tape, and there is some setup required before you begin.

For details on how to lead this activity with your team, see the full instructions at: The Tallest Tower Team Building Activity

Lowering the helium stick :

a group is required to use they’re index fingers to lower the stick to the ground. It is a rather tricky as the stick tends to rise rather than go down. It requires team work and strategic planning in order to achieve the goal.

I guess try to get the stick to touch the ground, along its entire length, at the same time.

Under attack by aborigines

ME: take them on a nature walk to neighbouring island. Make some sort of scenario with actors and story, and after horrifying ordeal and back at comfortable, safe surroundings, have a discussion: who instinctively acted as leader; discuss strengths and weaknesses of each person. Give them some sort of task to resolve on the adventure island. Make it fantasy and get them to live it. Perhaps dress them up in certain ways. “Warn” them about potentially scary animals on the island etc (also seriously).


Split into teams etc.

Blindfold hunt :

This can be executed as an indoor or outdoor activity. In this various object are scattered around and one participant is blindfolded and his/her partner is guide him/her to the objects, verbally.


Short, fun, physically engaging energizer and laughter-generating activity
Pick your time, place and group.  e.g., works well half-way through a backpacking trip with female adolescents
Everyone lays down so that their head rests on another person’s tummy; the group should all be interconnected by heads and tummies.
Set a mock “serious” tone
Optional: Eyes closed
The challenge is NOT to laugh
The other part of the challenge is for the first person to say out loud “Ha!”  The second person says “Ha-ha”, and so on
The groups tries to see how far the “Ha” gets along the line before someone laughs
After a few attempts, this generally descends into a crescendous wave of uncontrollable laughter

Multi-Way Tug-of-War

Refer to

– important that teams can cooperate to gang up against other teams etc. Change tact at any time. Tell them they can have secret codes for themselves and plan in advance. Best of three or whatever, and let them rest and strategise in between.

Chair Game

Active, physical engaging variation on “musical chairs”; can entertain a group for hours
Place chairs in a tight circle, with the chairs touching  each other.
Have 1 person stand in the middle – there is now a vacant chair
The person in the middle tries to sit in an empty seat
The group prevents the person by someone moving seat, creating a new vacant seat
The game moves fast — due to the strategic “bum-shuffling” by the group, the place of the empty seat is in constant movement, like a Mexican wave, changing directions, tempting, then moving fast – or instantly appearing on the other side if a bold cross is made by someone
Eventually the person in the middle makes a successful lunge for a seat (it can get very dramatic), the group member who was aiming for the seat (group consensus) now goes in the middle
And so on….

Wobbly Broomstick

Dizzy shit dude! file:///C:/Users/goof/Documents/Downloads/erase/rainforest%20place%20in%20Malaysia/_TEAMBUILDING/

Giants, Wizards & Elves



– can think up some games where people are put in teams of two, one is blindfolded and they try to achieve some tasks. Perhaps several such teams compete at once, all going in one direction to get a certain object for their team, crossing the paths of the others, and get back to their partner (or other destination) as a finish line. Give everyone a certain amount of time to work out commands. When you say “go” perhaps each seeing person can turn over a card so they know what object their team needs to get. Perhaps the card will also state the end destination, different for each team (the distance traversed should be the same for each), always trying to cross the paths of others. An alternative is to do it in a circle, crossing from one end to another. Can put objects in the way, possibly make the minefield like a penalty (glass bottle that when knocked over must be put back up and person must hop on one leg and count to something etc. Less if just touch it?).

– could combine with obstacle course type thing where have to crawl under/over horizontal ropes and other stuff.
– hanging ropes or things can also serve as mine (don’t touch) etc.
– will obviously want to switch roles between walker and controller at some point.
– when teams are preparing, tell them they need special signals and to recognize each others voices, assuming will have everyone jumbling at once, heh heh.
– perhaps could combine it in some way with strings on the ground and obstacle course. If someone is so fast that they catch up and touch the person ahead of them, they have to switch place with a certain gap (so that the person behind has to work a bit to catch up).
– when blindfolding, might want to wear shades or something to protect eyes from poking sticks etc.

Bamboo Ball Obstacle Course

– cut a bamboo lengthwise in half and then into smaller segments. Give each smaller segments to each member. Then there is a small ball which rolls down this half pipe and the members must roll the ball along an obstacle course. Each person must plant their feet firmly and not move them while they are in control of the ball. The members must take turns in succession, so a line is formed and they go to the other end of the line as soon as they’re done with their turn. Maybe make a big circle obstacle course so that each team starts somewhere else and all teams must complete the circle, making it fair. Or one team does it and the others watch, to make it more fun. Perhaps do it to follow some string in the forest, over various stuff. If the ball falls the person how made it fall must walk five feet lengths backwards along the path and continue from there. Another person of their team (the previous person in succession) must always drop the ball into the bamboo gutter pipe.

– for added fun, perhaps the other teams could try to distract them and stuff.

String Spokes

– say the strings cannot touch the ground, to prevent the less competent from not taking part and letting the more competent to steer everything.

– make up some task that have to pick up something and move it somewhere else. Maybe a separate string closes something in order to pick up an object, and then release it elsewhere.

Group Mandala

– a psychological exercise in placing personal objects and moving them around and discussing how each person feels about the position of their object within the group (of objects). More at file:///C:/Users/goof/Documents/Downloads/erase/rainforest%20place%20in%20Malaysia/_TEAMBUILDING/, where should download< the links from within for further reading.

– interesting psychological study of dynamics of people within a group environment and should be studied further.

Balloon Frantic

Two to three inflated balloons per person are needed and a stopwatch.  Each person has a balloon, with the rest in a nearby pile.  Everyone begins bouncing their balloons in the air.  Every five seconds, another balloon is added.  See how long the group can keep the balloons bouncing before receiving six penalties.  A penalty is announced loudly (to create stress!) by the leader when a balloon hits the floor, or once on the floor, if is not got back into play within five seconds.  The leader keeps a cumulative score by shouting out “one”, “two”, etc.  When the leader gets to “six”, time is stopped.  After some discussion, the group tries to better its record with another attempt.

– can also have fun when blowing them up. More ideas at file:///C:/Users/goof/Documents/Downloads/erase/rainforest%20place%20in%20Malaysia/_TEAMBUILDING/


Survival Games

– The purpose of this is to show people that there is greater strength in a group working by consensus than as individuals choosing their own way. We all have some knowledge and if we pool that all together, we stand a better chance of survival in tough conditions.

– As you might imagine, decision by consensus is usually difficult to attain and will consume more time than other methods of deciding an issue. (As a group, try to make each ranking one with which all group members can at least partially agree. Learning to ‘give and take’ about the decision is also an important outcome.) As the energies of the subgroup become focused on the problem at hand (rather than on defending individual points of view), the quality of the decision tends to be enhanced. Research indicates, in fact, that this approach to problem solving and decision making results in a significantly higher-quality decision than by implementing other methods such as the use of majority power (voting), minority power (persuasion), and compromise.

– give 10 minutes for each individual to decide what order, 20 minutes for each group to discuss and choose the best option. Then use a point system to see how far they deviated from the US Coast Guard’s recommendation (one point for each that is away from their choice – so the lower the score the better). Show all and compare the individual scores against the group scores (assume group scored better) and have open discussion on the benefits of group discussions/consensus.

In the decision-by-consensus process, each subgroup member is asked to:
1. Prepare his or her own position as well as possible prior to meeting with
the subgroup (but to realize that the task is incomplete and that the missing
pieces are to be supplied by the other members of the subgroup).
2. Recognize an obligation to express his or her own opinion and explain
it fully, so that the rest of the subgroup has the benefit of all members’
3. Recognize an obligation to listen to the opinions and feelings of all other
subgroup members and to be ready to modify one’s own position on the
basis of logic and understanding.
4. Avoid conflict-reducing techniques such as voting, compromising, or giving
in to keep the peace and to realize that differences of opinion are helpful;
in exploring differences, the best course of action will make itself apparent.

– c:\Users\goof\Documents\Downloads\erase\rainforest place in Malaysia\_TEAMBUILDING\\01_activities and exercises\_Survival Scenario Exercise\ – Prisoner’s Dilemna – interesting case where two groups are separated and must decide if they will tell the truth or not, after they are told that their accomplice fully testified and that both will be let off easier if tell the truth. Pg. 10 – interesting case of order of importance of survival gadgets. The next case is also interesting but not so much. Two good survival tests.

– for the first survival test, after the group chooses the order of importance, if it is far from what order the US Merchant Marine chose, tell them how far off they were and then to do it again, but this time to analyse each item and think of what it could be used for, besides the obvious or what they are used to using it as in civilization; after discussing about that then think of what is the most important survival factors and consider which item would best serve those goals. Think out of the box… Prepare a speech before starting that some people are natural leaders, with confidence and it is easier for them to assert their assert their will; while others may be shy and rather step aside and let others make the decision, and not make waves. But “might does not make right” and it is better to pool ideas. Every idea and perspective counts to increase the chances of a group’s survival. Just because someone is confident does not mean they are right. In fact, their confidence can be a cause of their blindness, and asserting their opinion means they are serving their own pride than the interests of the group. So explain to them that it is in the interests of theirs and the group’s survival for such natural leaders to encourage the more shy to speak their minds (which applies in the work environment as well), while it is better for the shy people to try and assert their opinions more, because the increased chance of the group’s survival inevitably means the increased chance of their own survival (and asserting their opinions more at work will improve their chance of career advancement, as well as help the company be more competitive – ingenuity of thinking, more productive group work). Explain how it is not about competing against one another, or simply voting or stepping aside not to make waves, but about everyone working together as a team, encouraging one another, so that all ideas are put on the table to help the best decision to be made. Maybe take them out in the jungle somewhere to provide a setting to create an environment of survival and help them get into the right frame of mind. {This can also be mentioned for promotion – the fact that we have such environment at our disposal.}

– A function structure chart might be a “middle-of-theroad” approach to function analysis for many people. It is a good motivator because it directly demonstrates the usefulness of function analysis for completely understanding and solving a problem systematically, front to back, back to front, top-down and bottom-up. Talked about more in …

– c:\Users\goof\Documents\Downloads\erase\rainforest place in Malaysia\_TEAMBUILDING\\01_activities and exercises\_Survival Scenario Exercise\MoonExercise.pdf – another survival test, ranking 15 objects of what need most and decided by NASA

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