Aside from practicing Instant Challenges, team-building exercises are a great way for teams to bond, learn more about each other, and learn to work as a team. The idea is not only to get your team to have as many experiences as possible, but to have different kinds of experiences.
- Cook Together: By making a sandwich or assembling a personal pizza, they learn more about one another, as well as teamwork skills. For example, maybe one team member doesn’t like tomatoes or one of them is a vegetarian. Let each member have a specific task. If there aren’t enough tasks for everybody, spilt the team between communicators and cooks. Communicators tell the cooks what to do and cooks are not allowed to speak.
- Play Sports: One of the things our team members have in common is that they enjoy playing soccer. At the end of our meetings, we would let them play soccer in the backyard or they would talk about their next games, plays that they made in their last match, etc. Find a popular sport among your team members and provide opportunities for them to play it. It can even be an indoor game like Ping-Pong or bowling.
- Encourage Conversations: Both constructed and organic conversations will help team members get to know each other better and teach them how to listen to all team member’s stories and ideas. A great game for this is The Bonfire Stories Game. Have the team sit in a circle with a container in the middle. The container should have different notes with suggestions such as “tell an embarrassing story that happened to you.” All team members must tell a story before grabbing a different suggestion.
- Discourage Cliques: Many times, there is the pair of kids on a team that tends to get along better with each other, rather than with the rest of the team. During activities and games, try to pair kids who get along the least together. This will discourage cliques and encourage all team members to have a better relationship with all of their teammates.
- Celebrate Together: You don’t have to wait until after the tournament to celebrate as a team. You can celebrate after a very productive meeting, when it’s someone’s birthday, or when there is a holiday. For example, you could have a surprise birthday party for one of your team members or have a Friendsgiving dinner with your team. Challenge your team by leaving all of the planning to them!
- Travel Together: Even if it’s just a 20-minute trip to the museum or to a park, give your team the opportunity to ride in a car together. This allows for organic conversations, car games, and can even resolve conflicts, like who gets the window seat.
- Laugh Together: Watch a comedic movie, play a YouTube video of “America’s Funniest Videos,” let each member share a video or a meme they think is the funniest, or have each team member tell jokes and then vote for the best comic. Whenever you have set that kind of mood, they will even laugh at their own fails, mistakes and conflicts. Last year, one of our team members got so frustrated that he stood up said, “I quit DI” (left the room dramatically). They all laughed at the same time, even the boy who said, “I quit DI.” To this day, that is their inside joke. Whenever they get frustrated or fail at something, they jokingly say “I quit DI” and they all laugh.
Don’t quit DI. Spend as much time as possible with your team and have a great time this season.
About the Author: Seila Saldivar fell in love with Destination Imagination when she volunteered for the first time as an Appraiser at her Affiliate Tournament. After that, she began volunteering as a Team Manager and managed a team for three years. She has had the opportunity to go to Affiliate Tournaments and Global Finals with her team.