Custom Built Team Building and Leadership Initiative Training

Posts tagged “Initiatives

Gridwalk – A Group Problem Solving and Team Building Initiative

Great team-building and problem-solving initiatives are sometimes hard to find. Look no further, because this classic leadership activity is perfect for small groups looking to accomplish a task while working together.



Number of Participants: 5-25
Time:  15-30 minutes
Activity Level: Low-Moderate
Props: Gridwalk Tarp and Gridwalk Map

Objective: For the entire group to cross the grid following the pre-determined path.

Setup – Get a tarp (preferably), a sheet, or just some tape on the ground and make a 7×7 grid of squares with each square being 1 square foot.


  1. One participant on the grid at a time.
  2. If the participant steps on the wrong squares (not in the direction of the path), the entire group must start over.
  3. After stepping on a wrong square, the participant must leave the grid in the exact order in which they entered the grid (basically walking the path backwards).
  4. If a person does not follow the path correctly, they lose their verbal communication for the rest of the activity.
  5. After a participant crosses the entire path on the grid and gets to the other side, they lose verbal and nonverbal communication abilities. We do this so that those students who do not pay any attention must pay the consequences.

The goal for the group is to cross the grid as quickly as possible by following the path on the Gridwalk map.


Have you used Gridwalk with your team? What variations have you implemented to best suit your teams needs?

If you have any questions on how to add this to your program’s curriculum, just let me know!

Ryan Eller
Founder, Paradigm Shift







Trashball – A Leadership Team Building Activity Focused on Integrity

Have you ever had a group find the “gray area” of the rules? A group that tries to skirt around the edges of the activity to get a competitive advantage?

I come across groups and teams like this all of the time, and it always comes back to integrity…doing the right thing when no one is watching. This activity is perfect for processing and encouraging integrity within a group. Don’t give the group any instructions except what is written below, and then let them play. Let the play go on longer than they expect, and then call it when things get intense. Typically I have groups who will continue throwing even after I ask them to stop.

It is after this when I can discuss integrity and following the rules with the team. Try it out and let me know what you think!



Number of Participants: 5-75
Time:  5-10 minutes
Activity Level: High
Props:  Throwables, Boundary Line

Objective:  To get as many pieces of trash in your neighbor’s lawn as possible.

Divide the group into two teams and scatter an equal amount of throwables on their side of the boundary line. Tell them that the other team is up to no good and keeps throwing trash on their perfectly manicured lawn.

Their goal is to throw as much trash from their lawn onto their neighbors before the end of the activity. Don’t tell them how much time they have to complete this activity.

The issue is that the neighbors dislike each other so much that they have placed a 20-30 foot tall fence in between the two lawns, and the teams must throw the trashballs over the fence to get to the other side.

Sources: The Bottomless Bag Again by Karl Rohnke – pg. 73.

What types of integrity activities do you use with your group? Have you ever played Trashball?

Snakes – A Trust Team-Building Activity That Focuses On Non-Verbal Communication

Number of Participants: 2-30
Time: 10-15 minutes
Activity Level: Low – Moderate
Props: Blindfolds, Throwables, Buckets, Rope/Tape for barrier

Objective: For every member of the team to place a throwable into the bucket.

Set Up: Create a large circle barrier with the tape or a rope. Place a bucket in the middle of the circle. Toss the throwables randomly inside the barrier.

Ryan Eller


*****It is very important to ensure and instill a sense of trust within the group before attempting this activity. Please do not try Snakes before building trust on a smaller/safer level. Sequence several build-up trust activities prior to Snakes.

Depending on the amount of people in the group, ask the participants to get into teams of 5-7 people. Ask the participants to stand in a single file line and place their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. All participants will be blindfolded except for the person standing in the very back of the line. This is a no-talking activity, but allow the group to take 1-2 minutes to pre-plan.

The person in the back of the line will guide the participants around the circle barrier by simply tapping the shoulders of the person in front of them, who will tap the shoulders of the person in front of them, and so on, until the person in the front of the line will move towards a throwable. When a throwable is approached, the person in the front will grab the throwable and then be guided to the bucket where they will drop the throwable.

When a participant drops the throwable into the bucket, they will then remove their blindfold and move to the back of the line and become the sighted team member. The person who was in the back of the line then puts on a blindfold.

Continue this process until all team members have placed a throwable into the bucket. If there is more than one team, the first team to finish is the winner and then should encourage the other teams until they are finished. If the teams are uneven, the team with the least amount of members will continue to rotate until they have dropped as many throwables into the bucket as the largest team would have to drop into the bucket.

Check out the video below to see the activity in action:

Have you attempted this activity? What are your thoughts on using trust activities as a team-building exercise?

Fill The Bucket – A Fun Team-Building and Leadership Activity

Fill the Bucket is a collaborative team-building activity that requires participants to plan ahead to achieve a group goal. I first learned this activity from the great and wonderful Diane Walker. We consistently used Fill The Bucket as a planning and goal setting initiative.

Ryan Eller Ryan Eller

Fill The Bucket

Number of Participants: 7-25
Time: 15-25 minutes
Activity Level: Moderate
Props: 3 Buckets, 30-40 throwables (yarn balls, Beanie Babies, etc.), and tape/rope/webbing to mark the boundary

Objective:  To hit the team’s goal by scoring as many points as possible during each round.

Set Up:
Place the tape/rope/webbing in a straight line about 20’ – 25’ long. Place one bucket 5 feet from the line, another bucket 10 feet from the line, and the third bucket 15 feet from the line. The buckets need to be 5 feet apart, thus creating a staggered line of buckets. Lay all of the throwables along the line on the opposite side of the buckets.


  • 5 points for throwables tossed into the closest bucket
  • 10 points for throwables tossed into the middle bucket
  • 15 points for throwables tossed into the furthest bucket

This game is comprised of four (4) one-minute rounds. Each round has different rules, but before each round the group declares a group goal score. Also, before each round suggest (or require, depending upon the group) a two-minute planning period.

Round 1:
Instruct the participants that their goal is to score as many points as possible by tossing the throwables into the buckets.


  1. The participants cannot cross the line.
  2. Once time is up, the participants cannot toss any more throwables
  3. The participants cannot retrieve any throwables from across the line.
  4. If the group throws all items before a minute, the round is over.

At the end of the round, encourage the group to help you add up the score. See if their score matches or exceeds their goal score.

Round 2:
Follow the rules for Round 1, but challenge the group to reevaluate their approach to the activity and see if they need to make any changes. Ask them to give you a new goal score for Round 2.

When the minute is over, ask them if they set an appropriate goal.

Round 3:
Follow the rules for Round 1, but this time give the team a new resource. Invite three participants to become “runners,” teammates who can cross the line and retrieve throwables that have not landed in the bucket.

Runners can only retrieve one throwable at a time, and must hand the throwable across the line, not toss it. Encourage the team to pre-plan and then ask for a new group goal score.

After the round, ask the group to evaluate their progress and determine the validity of their group goal score.

Round 4
Follow the rules for Round 3 (including the runners), but this time give the group another resource, “Backboards.” Three participants will serve as backboards that will straddle the buckets, sitting on their knees with their back to the bucket.

Ask for a goal score, and complete the activity. After they are finished, process the activity with a creative and insightful debrief.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What was one word to describe Round 1? What about Round 4?
  2. Did the group allocate adequate time for pre-planning the activity? What pre-planning steps did the group take?
  3. What ideas did the group find to be the most successful to complete the activity? Which participants developed the ideas?
  4. How did the new resources change your plan? What action steps did you take to implement the new resources?
  5. How did the group communication during the activity?
  6. Did any members of the group take charge? Who? How?

Facilitator Notes:

  1. It helps to record the group’s scores after each round on a white board or flip chart. This allows the team to see the progress over the rounds.
  2. Some groups need instruction on how to communicate during the planning period. Either provide that instruction or build up to that point throughout the day’s activities.

Have you used this activity? Do you have any fun variations for Fill The Bucket? Where did you learn Fill The Bucket?

Dream Catcher – A SMART Goals Initiative

This activity is meant to help your participants discover and develop their dreams and goals. Dream Catcher is based on the SMART goals theory that goals and dreams must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Jerrod Murr

Number of Participants:  Any size
Time:  15-45 minutes (depending how in depth you would like to go with your group.)
Activity Level:  Moderate
Props: A bucket to act as the Dream Catcher and a throwable for each participant to act as their dream (If you do not have enough throwables, have the participants wad up a piece of paper)

Objective: For every member of the team to toss their dream (the throwable) in the dream catcher (the bucket) as quickly as possible

Set Up:
Organize participants into a circle and place the bucket in the middle of the circle.

While the participants are in the circle, challenge them to think of their dream. During each round the participants are trying to complete the round as quickly as possible and help each participant “achieve” their dream by placing it in the Dream Catcher. This activity will have three timed rounds:

  • Round 1: The goal is for each participant to say their dream and place it in the “Dream Catcher” as quickly as possible.
  • Round 2: Challenge the participants to restate their goal, making it more specific and time bound. The team still has the same goal for    this round: Each participant says their dream and places it in the “Dream Catcher” as quickly as possible.
  • Round 3: This time the group gets even more specific and has the same goal: Each participant says their dream and places it in the “Dream Catcher” as quickly as possible.

In between each round, challenge the participants to really think about their dream and start to “own it” by declaring that they will achieve their dream each time they share it with the group. The group always has the goal of completing the activity as quickly as possible while every participant “achieves” their dream. They may start out by tossing their dream into the Dream Catcher or even running to the middle to place their dream in the Dream Catcher. There are no rules on how their dream gets into the Dream Catcher, and they can even pick it up and pass it around the group.


  1. You can use this activity just as a dreams activity without the actual initiative involved.
  2. Do the activity with five rounds and follow the SMART goal steps.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Were the participants inspired by each other’s dreams?
  2. Were there any ideas or options to help them more quickly “achieve” their dreams?
  3. Could they have moved the bucket? Are there any things in their actual life that could help them achieve their dreams?

Facilitator Notes:

  • Use the processing time as an opportunity to help the participants plan out ways to achieve their dreams.
  • Challenge the participants to come up with a dream that is actually achievable or attainable.

Leadership Man…or Woman

Leadership Man/Woman is a perfect way to implement a Full Value Contract with your group while discussing leadership characteristics, group social norms, and expected group contributions. I love to start a day off with this interactive and engaging activity.

Paradigm Shift
Paradigm Shift
Paradigm Shift

Number of Participants: 7-15 per piece of butcher paper
Time:  20-30 minutes
Activity Level: Low
Props:  7-8 feet of butcher paper per group, and colorful markers

Objective: To discuss and write down the leadership characteristics the group finds important in a “perfect leader.”

Set Up:
Cut a piece of butcher paper long enough for any participant to lie down upon. Provide markers for the group to write on the paper.


  1. Trace the outline of one of the students.
  2. Name the leadership man.
  3. Talk about the leadership traits the group wants to demonstrate throughout the camp, afternoon, week, workshop, summer, etc.
  4. Have each member write the trait inside the leader in the spot that the trait should be located (courage in the area of the heart, knowledge by the brain).
  5. Explain that these are the traits we want to display throughout the camp. Each group will then will take an oath to try to model these traits for the next few days.
  6. Encourage each member of the group to sign the leadership man.


  1. This can be done on an individual basis (especially with small groups with limited space). The individual can share with the entire group.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why did you write down your certain terms and characteristics?
  2. Where there any characteristics you disagreed with?
  3. What opportunities have you had to experience these traits?
  4. Did you think of a particular leader when you thought of these characteristics?

Facilitator Notes:

  • I often ask the group to find one or two characteristics that they would like to model for the rest of the workshop, and then try to emulate those traits.
  • This pairs up very well with Character Card Matching, or any other leadership activity.

Have you used Leadership Man/Woman? What types of Full Value Contract activities do you use with your group?

Ryan Eller
Founder, Paradigm Shift

SMART Goals Paper Fold

Paradigm Shift

Almost everyone has a goal or a dream, but many do not know how to make their goals SMART Goals. This activity will help participants make their goals more specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

Number of Participants: 1-Unlimited
Time:  15-25 minutes
Activity Level:  Low
Props: A piece of paper per participant (any size will work, but the larger the better) & writing utensils.

Objective: Use this interactive activity to help participants make their goals SMART goals. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound)


  • Give participants a piece of paper and ask them to fold the paper in half 5 times.
  • Instruct the participants to write their goal on one side of the paper. They can write it out, illustrate it, or be as creative as possible.  (Example goal: Go to college)
  • Ask the participants to unfold the paper once, flip it over, and write down a goal that is more specific. (Example: Go to college and major in Nursing)
  • Encourage the participants to unfold the paper again and make their goal measurable. (Example: Go to college, major in nursing and graduate magna cum laude)
  • Invite the participants to unfold their paper one more time, flip it over, and make sure their goal is attainable by writing down examples of things they know they can do to achieve their goal. (Example: I have graduated HS, I excel in science and math, etc.)
  • Ask the participants to unfold the paper once more, flip it over, and now make sure their goal is relevant. This is the “why” of the SMART Goal…why would want to achieve this goal? (Example: Write reasons why they want to accomplish this goal: More money for my family, better career, etc.)
  • Ask them to once again unfold their paper and make their goal time-bound. (Example: Go to college and major in nursing, and graduate magna cum laude by May 1, 2016)
  • For the last step, ask the participants to unfold the paper one last time, flip it over, and write their new SMART Goal. Ask them to sign the paper and date it.

After the activity, the participants should now have a piece of paper with their SMART Goal, some factors that say how they could achieve the goal (attainable), their reasons for attaining that goal (relevant), and a date to accomplish the goal (time-bound).


  1. Encourage participants to draw or paint their goals, this will help them become more realistic.
  2. Bring old magazines and newspapers, scissors, and glue to let the participants make their last page into an art masterpiece.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What did it feel like once you had a SMART Goal?
  2. Do you feel like you are closer to achieving your goal now?
  3. What is the next action step now that you have a SMART Goal?
  4. What were some of the things on your relevant page? Why do you want to achieve this goal?
  5. Who can help you achieve this goal?

Facilitator Notes:

It is usually very beneficial to combine this workshop with a brief introduction to SMART Goals. It works to explain SMART Goals either before the activity, or as a step-by-step guide during the initiative.

Let me know if you have any questions on how to implement this into your program or have any ideas on how to use SMART Goals Paper Fold.

Ryan Eller
Founder, Paradigm Shift

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