Winter can be dreary, especially for individuals living in colder regions.
It’s easy for people to go a little stir crazy during the dark, cold days of winter, and businesses are not immune to this phenomenon. That’s why it’s important to shake things up by occasionally getting out of the office. Outdoor team-building activities are a great way to get your employees out into the fresh air and sunshine (even if it’s chilly outside).
To help you walk away from your desk and shake off the winter gloom, we put together this list of three must-try outdoor activities to strengthen your team. We know not everyone has abundant snow, so we don’t list any snow-based activities like sledding or skiing here (though they’re certainly good options if you have the weather for it). The three activities below can be held with or without the fluffy white stuff, as long as everyone’s bundled up properly. So, grab a coat and a pair of gloves and get ready to have some fun.
1) Scavenger Hunt
Required materials: Pens, paper, smartphones (optional)
Scavenger hunts are a tried-and-true favorite. First, put together a list of challenges, tasks, dares, locations to visit, and/or items to find, and write them down (or print them) on paper. These can be simple (“find the ugliest Christmas sweater and take a picture”) and localized if needed (if you plan the right challenges, they’ll never have to leave the building), or they can be elaborate and widespread, taking the scavengers across the city. Then, decide how big you want the groups to be. For small numbers, everyone can play as individuals; for larger groups, you can break into small teams (usually 2–4 members). Set a deadline to complete the task or, conversely, set a timer to see who can complete the list first. Finally, hand out the list and writing implements to the teams and set them loose. Fun and hilarity ensue.
2) Toxic Waste
Required materials: 2 buckets, 1 bungee-cord loop, 8 bungee cords, 1 rope, half a dozen or more small plastic or rubber balls (tennis balls or similar)
“Toxic Waste” requires a little lateral thinking and a lot of teamwork. To set it up, start by using the rope to make a large circle around one of the buckets. Make it big, as this is key to making it challenging. This circle around the bucket marks the “radiation zone.” Players have to stay out of this zone while playing the game. Place the “toxic waste” (the balls) in this bucket and then place the other, empty bucket 20–30 feet away. Now you’re ready to play.
Break the group into teams (preferably 8 people to a team), and give them the bungee cords and loop. The teams must find a way to use the bungee cords to carry the bucket of “toxic waste” over to the “neutralizing bucket” without touching it. Crossing the radiation zone results in team-member “injury” (usually something like blindfolding them or tying a hand behind their back), and repeated offenses result in “death” (they have to sit out of their team’s round). Apply similar rules if the “toxic waste” is spilled. If the whole bucket is spilled, the entire team “dies” and they lose. Give them a time limit (around 20 minutes or so) to complete the task.
Here’s the solution for referees (in case your teams need a hint): Attach the bungee cords to the loop and use them to stretch the loop out. Then, lower it over the bucket, and release it so it grips the bucket. Once the loop is on, use the bungee cords to lift, carry, and tip the bucket. It’s a simple solution that’s a lot more complicated in execution. Expect lots of mistakes and lots of laughter.
3) The Perfect Square
Required materials: A long rope (tied together to make a loop), blindfolds for each person playing the game
To play “The Perfect Square,” hand each player a blindfold and have them stand in a circle, with each person holding part of the rope. Instruct everyone to put on their blindfolds, set their section of rope on the floor, and take 5–10 steps away from the rope. Then, have them return to the rope while still blindfolded, and instruct them to use the rope to form a perfect square without removing their blindfolds. Set a time limit to make it interesting. For added difficulty, you can instruct some players to stay silent. See who can complete the task most effectively and in the shortest period of time.
If none of the activities above is a good fit for your team, this list should at least be a good starting point to help you find one that is. Company activities don’t need to be lengthy or expensive. You can often boost morale with simple games like these, helping to chase off the winter chill and revitalize your workforce. Get creative. A little effort goes a long way, and your crew will be grateful for the change of pace.