Category Archives: Team Building

Team Building Activity: Straw Challenge

Straw Challenge 

IMG_1023This activity is a super simple and inexpensive way to get your group working as a cohesive team!

Time Needed: 10-15 minutes

Group Size: Any

Materials: Straws for each person in the group (ones that are NOT bendy work best)


RUS_7117 (1)Give each person a straw, have them form a circle, and then hold their straw against the pointer finger of their right hand.

Have them cross their left arm across their right arm and press the tip of their pointer finger on their left hand against the end of their neighbor on the rights’ straw. This should allow the tip of each of their pointers to be in contact with a straw. No other part of any person’s hand, other than their pointer fingers, may touch the straws from this point on.

Now have the group make a series of movements to see how few times they will drop the straws. Have the group move in a circle to their left until they are back in their original position again. Afterward, have the group move 5-15 feet (depending on how much space you have) in a direction from where they are standing, and then return to their original location.

RUS_7114If at any point someone drops a straw, the entire group must stop and allow the person who dropped the straw time to pick it up and get into position again.

There is no elimination for dropping a straw. 

Debrief Questions:

  • How did your neighbor’s movement affect yours?
  • Were you affected by movement across the circle?
  • In our group how do we affect each other?
  • What can each of us do to think about how our activities affect others, especially as leaders?

We encourage you to complete this activity with the youth you serve, staff you work with, or both! If you do, please make sure to let us know how it goes!


Team Building Activity: Balloon Tower

Balloon Tower

RUS_2777Are you looking for a fun and engaging team building activity to do with your group? Look no further than Balloon Tower! We love to do this activity to encourage teamwork and discuss conquering challenges. We would love to hear how you use it, too!

Objective: Use a bag of balloons and roll of masking tape to build the tallest freestanding tower possible in the time allotted.

Time Needed:  20-30 minutes

Group Size:  Any, split into teams of 4-6 people

Materials (per team):

  • 1 bag of balloons
  • 1 roll of masking tape

RUS_2797Directions:  If your group is larger than 6, split into smaller teams.  Give each team a bag of balloons and a roll of tape.  Challenge the teams to make the tallest freestanding tower they can using only the balloons and tape. 

Allow four minutes of brainstorming and planning. When you say “Go!” the tower building can begin. 

Let the teams build for 10 minutes, giving time announcements at five minutes, two minutes and one minute remaining. At the end, whichever team has the tallest freestanding tower is the winner. 

Congratulate all teams for creating such tall towers.


You can make it more difficult by allowing the teams to brainstorm and plan for four minutes and then not allowing them to talk while they are building.


Debrief Questions:

  1. What worked for your group? What didn’t? How did you know?
  2. What was challenging? How did you deal with those challenges?
  3. How do you feel about your finished tower?
  4. How is this activity like working on your project with your team?

Team Building Activity: The Star

The Star 

This is a quick and easy team building activity that you can accomplish with any group, made up of youth or adults. We recently used this activity with our 2014 Georgia Teen Institute Staff during Staff Development Weekend and are so excited to share it with you!

20140315_111316Time Needed: 15 – 20 minutes

Group Size: Any, split into teams of 12-15

Materials: A very long rope or ball of yarn (40-50 feet) tied to itself to form a circle


Star 1Ask everyone in the group to grab the rope and get into a circle.

Inform everyone that they cannot let go of the rope or trade places with others, but they can slide their hands along the rope.

The goal is to get the whole group to create a five pointed star with the rope (the kind with the crisscrosses in the middle).

Once they think the task is complete, ask them to slowly lower the star to the ground and step back to admire their work.

Debrief Questions:

  • Was your team successful? If so, how?
  • What did your planning process look like?
  • Did anyone emerge as a leader? What actions or characteristics made them a leader?
  • What roles did others play during the activity?
  • In what ways does this activity relate to the real world?

Star 3If you use this team building activity with your group, let us know how it goes. If you already do this activity and know of fun or meaningful variances, we would love to know about that, too. Please reach out and keep connected!

GTI 2014: Team Meetings & Family Groups

We don’t know about you, but we are still super energized from Georgia Teen Institute 2014! The summer program may be over, yet it’s still all many of us can think about. In a recent blog post, we shared with you some highlights of the week from our large group sessions. Believe it or not, we still have so much more to tell. Read below for some insight into two major components of GTI: Team Meetings and Family Groups.

Team Meetings

IMG_2972The reason Youth Action Teams have attended Georgia Teen Institute for the past 26 years is because they want to make a difference in their communities. Each team met daily during the program to participate in team building, assessing community needs and strengths and developing an Action Plan for the upcoming year. The Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) was utilized for each team to plan at least one project from start to finish that they will implement when they return to their communities. In addition, they reviewed data from the Georgia Department of Education’s Georgia Student Health Survey II and the Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS Count Data to get to know the issues that prevail in their communities. Working with their Adult Advisors and GTI Youth or College Age Staff, all 43 teams successfully completed a plan of action in response to a local issue the group decided should be addressed. Thirty teams who are funded by DBHDD addressed underage drinking as their problem and planned prevention projects related to the issue. Because GTI is a youth leadership program centered on prevention, several other teams identified underage drinking as the issue they wanted to address with their project, as well.

IMG_2965In addition to all the hard work they put into their team Action Plans, they participated in team building activities to help the team learn more about their strengths, areas for improvement and how they can successfully work together at GTI and when they return home. This year, teams completed several beach-themed activities, such as creating their own Beach House and Blimp to advertise their project. Teams also designed a treasure map, played Beach Towel Flip and went on a beach trip with the Wright family.

Each team who attended GTI successfully submitted an Action Plan. If you’re wondering what an Action Plan would include and what communities across the state of Georgia will see in the coming year, here are a few highlights from some of our teams:

  • BullochBulloch County Alcohol and Drug Council DEFY YAT identified underage drinking as a problem in their community. The team planned a DEFY YAT Drug Free Kickback in the four county middle schools to provide information on underage drinking prevention with ways to decrease negative peer pressure.
  • RUS_6027 (1)Cobb Alcohol Taskforce YAT stated their problem was a lack of awareness of the dangers of underage drinking. With the goal of raising awareness of adult influence on teens, the team planned a 5K Color Run. The Color Run will increase the YAT’s interaction with community youth and adults and educate them on substance abuse statistics.
  • Spalding Co.Spalding County Youth Action Council identified underage drinking as an issue and planned to implement the “Simply Sober, Simply Me” Campaign to help prevent and reduce underage drinking by sharing information and leveraging resources. To change perceptions and behaviors of the citizens of Spalding County, the team created “The Breakout Conference: Creating a New Cool.” They also planned a 70’s party to reinforce the 70/30 statistic. Using the data from the needs assessment and positive social norms, the party will show that 70% of teens do not drink alcohol.
  • WaltonA new team to GTI, the Walton County Youth Advocacy Board, identified two problems they would like to address: underage drinking and lack of understanding of Cultural Competency. Their goal is to redefine Cultural Competency in Walton County and promote positive messages around youth in all aspects, including the importance of remaining alcohol and drug free was the goal statement they wrote. Using the Open Minded Movement, the team planned a Cotton Café Monologue Event and the Haunted House of Addictions.
  • ParkviewParkview High School SAVE/SADD, a team who has attended GTI for numerous years, decided to take a new approach to the problem of underage drinking this year. The team wanted to increase visibility of alcohol free fun, parties and events throughout the year, while also communicating the dangers of underage drinking. Using information from their needs assessment, the team recognized that after parties with alcohol following sporting events is an issue in their community. To reduce this problem, the team planned the #DrugFreeTurnUp project. Throughout the school year, the team will attend a variety of school sporting events and distribute giveaways during the games to spread an alcohol free message to students and adults.

Now the real fun begins. Over the next year, we get to watch all of our awesome Youth Action Teams implement their projects and change their communities and the world. We can’t wait to see how they go! Thank you to all of our teams for your hard work throughout the week and your dedication to Make It Matter back in your communities! 

Family Groups

Family Groups are often the highlight for participants year after year, and it’s no surprise why. Family Groups are comprised of youth from across the state to engage in discussion, reflection, games and activities. Each session was designed to build skills, friendships and self-esteem while encouraging networking among youth from diverse backgrounds. Family Groups met daily to get to know each other, have fun and experienced how a group of strangers can become like family by learning to trust and care for each other in a matter of a few short days.

IMG_2973A long-time tradition at GTI is having Secret Pals in your Family Group, and this year they were another huge hit. On Day 1, participants picked their Secret Pal and had the responsibility of not only keeping themselves a secret, but also placing something on the Warm Fuzzy Board each day. This year, the board was filled with all kids of goodies, including hand written notes, items purchased from the GTI store, stickers, snacks and crafts made during Arts and Crafts. Each day, participants eagerly checked the board looking for something from their Secret Pal.

Sticking with the beach theme, several of our Family Group activities continued our beach journey. Family Groups created wind chimes, which were pieces of art that can only make music when all of the pieces work together. The wind chime also showed how diverse the Family Group was because no two people had the exact same seashell. Each participant was able to keep a seashell of their own to reflect on the beauty, uniqueness and importance of each person who came to the GTI beach. Any trip to the beach would not be complete without a scrapbook full of memories, and this journey was no different. Everyone was able to complete their GTI Scrapbook to remember their experience at camp.

IMG_2977Family Groups also completed several team building activities to encourage youth to practice their leadership skills with people they were not familiar with. This year that included activities such as Anti Gravity Hoop, Disaster Control and Telephone Charades. Each Family Group was divided in half and the teams had to race in order to lower their hula hoop to the ground first during Anti Gravity Hoop. As a way to enhance “Personal Power” (when a young person feels he or she has control over things that happen to them), Family Groups worked in small groups to decide what three items they would have in their flood preparedness kit, during the Disaster Control activity. Telephone Charades was also a hit, where groups had to compete to get their “message” down the telephone line, using only their finest acting skills. Each Family Group had the opportunity to bond, laugh and develop leadership skills with youth from other teams across Georgia.

IMG_2976Adult Advisors participated in a Family Group of their own, having just as much fun as the youth. Each Adult Family Group starts out with Door Prizes, and they were required to show off their best Door Prize Dance. This year, the Adults participated in activities such as Beach Ball Thumb Ball, Animated Skit, Spoonful of Questions and many more. Adult Advisors had the opportunity to network with other professionals throughout the state, which is one of the many benefits of attending GTI. Not only are Advisors sharing project ideas, but also resources and connections they have to help make Georgia a better place. Adult Advisors also participate in Secret Pals and this year they really stepped it up in the gift giving. Several adults received Secret Pal prize packs filled with treats and items to share with their team members. The incredible Adult Advisors who are a part of our statewide initiative also participated in a networking meeting. During the meeting, event reports, contracts and other logistical items were discussed. Each Adult Advisor served as positive adult role models to our youth, and this year we had the opportunity to thank them during each Family Group meeting with small prizes like notebooks, pens, and the limited edition GTI visor. 

We truly could not have asked for better Team Meetings and Family Groups this year. We are excited to see all of these incredible projects implemented and how our Youth Action Teams use the skills they built and tools received at GTI to grow and strengthen their communities over the next year. Want to know even more about what we did at GTI 2014? Please stay tuned for our next blog post, which will cover the workshop opportunities we offered participants.

Team Building Activity: Beach Towel Flip

Beach Towel Flip

This is one of several fun and meaningful Team Building activities that we used at the 2014 Georgia Teen Institute. Though this was called “Beach Towel Flip” to coincide with our theme this summer, it can be used year-round (and you don’t even need a beach towel!).

IMG_1474Time Needed:  20-30 minutes

Group Size: Any, split into groups of 8-12

Materials:  Beach towel (or a plastic tablecloth, shower curtain, or tarp), masking tape, permanent markers  


RUS_6478Lay beach towel flat on floor.  Distribute two strips of tape and a marker to each group member.  Have group members gather around edges of beach towel.

Say:  Let’s each think of one healthy behavior we would like to practice and one unhealthy behavior we would like to leave behind to reinforce our goals of living a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.  Have each person write down these two behaviors, one on each of his or her strips of masking tape.

RUS_6488Each person should place their HEALTHY BEHAVIOR onto the side of the beach towel that is facing upwards, so that the other members of the group can see it.  Take a few minutes for the group to share their behaviors with each other.  This shouldn’t take more than 4-5 minutes.

Have your group flip the beach towel over to the other side.  On this side, have participants place their UNHEALTHY BEHAVIOR piece of tape. You can allow these to be shared or not, depending on time and the maturity of your group.

IMG_1487Ask everyone to stand on the beach towel.  Once they are all on, tell them that their challenge—as a group—is to get past their barriers – their unhealthy behaviors – to their healthy behaviors.  In other words, they must flip the beach towel over…WITHOUT touching the ground underneath, around them or ANYTHING other than the towel and each other. 

Encourage participants to act with safety in mind and, as the facilitator, keep an eye on those who are close to the edge, etc. to ensure that no one falls or gets hurt.

Debrief Questions:

  • IMG_1493How was your team successful?
  • What strategies did you access to support each other in turning over the beach towel?
  • How was your communication affected by your physical closeness?
  • How was your decision making affected by your physical closeness and the task at hand?
  • How does the closeness of support impact your decision to practice helpful, healthy decision making?
  • What are the challenges that you think you face in committing to a drug-free lifestyle?
  • How can others support you in this commitment?

Team Building Activity: Life Line

Life Line

If you’re looking for some team building to use during your Youth Action Team meetings or to jazz up your National Prevention Week (May 18-24) activities, you’re in luck! This activity is more than just a team builder, it’s a great way to open up conversation about prevention, peer pressure and supporting each other.

photo 2Time Needed:  20-30 minutes

Group Size: Any, split into groups of 8-12

Materials:  Rope(s), 1 per group



Set Up

  1. Tie simple overhand knots in the rope so that there is one space between knots for each person in the group.
  2. The knots should be about five feet apart. There should be enough spaces for all the students.
  3. Spread the rope out on the floor so that there are no overlaps, etc.


“We all need sources of support to help us through life. The rope before you represents your life line. As you can see there are several knots in your life path. The knots represent times when you may be pressured to drink alcohol or use drugs or tobacco. With support we know that we can move through many challenges or knots in our path to a healthy life.”


  1. Have students stand near the rope at a space between two knots. Be sure no one is at the very ends of the rope and that there is a knot between them and the ends.
  2. Tell students that the rope before them represents their life line of support and in a moment you are going to ask them to reach down and grab the rope with one hand in between two knots.
  3. Explain that when they grab the rope their hand will be super glued to that spot so choose their and position wisely.
  4. The group’s task is to untie all of the knots on the rope without anyone taking their hand off of the rope.
  5. They can use their other hand, talk to one another, etc. They just can’t move the hand that is “super glued” onto the rope.


  1. How were you able to make decisions and solve the problems so you could untie all the knots?
  2. How important is it to stay super-glued to your life line of support when dealing with pressure to drink alcohol or use drugs or tobacco?
  3. What are some examples of when your life line of support includes the legal and responsible use of drugs or medicines?
  4. What are some helpful guidelines for deciding when people are using over-the-counter drugs or medicines as healthy supports versus unhealthy coping strategies?
  5. Who are YOUR life lines? Ask participants to think about the people who help keep them afloat.

Team Building Activity: Concentric Circles

Concentric Circles

DSC02257 (1)This is one of our all-time favorites because you can use it with just about any subject matter. If you want to allow people to get to know each other better, use it with some get to know you questions. If you want to get people talking about a certain subject, review material or focus on one topic, you can! 

Prior to the activity, develop questions based on your session content or the intent of your activity. 

Time Needed: 10 minutes+ (you can make it longer depending on how many questions you have)

Group Size:  Any

Materials: Questions you’ve developed

Directions:  Ask participants to form two equal circles, one inner, one outer, with circles facing each other.  You may form several small-mid sized groups if you have a large group. 

Ask participants to introduce themselves to their partner.  Explain that you will read the question, give the first person 1 minute to respond and then announce that it’s time to switch and let the second person answer. After each question is answered (twice, once by each partner), have the inner circle rotate by one person.  Ask participants to introduce themselves again and ask the next question.

Tips & Variations:

  • You may form several small-mid sized groups if you have a large group.
  • Have youth leaders create questions for activity.
  • Play often, perhaps at the beginning of every session or meeting, and create themes based on session content, season, academic area, etc.