Impacted by the AAU and select teams that compete during the summer, most camps don’t draw the way they used to.
So, if you host summer camps, you’re probably looking for a way to make yours stand out from the rest.
When I worked at Penn State, a team building component helped create an unforgettable experience for the campers.
The majority of campers said the other camps they attended didn’t offer this.
Becoming a great athlete certainly requires skill development. But there’s so much more to it! Why not reflect that in your summer camps?
Our team camp had divisions with about 10 teams each. Each division was scheduled for one hour for optional team building. Most of the teams came. It gave an opportunity to rest their bodies, while participating in a fun, productive activity.
The following are terrific problem-solving activities that you can use at camp and even with your own team:
This was my favorite activity—props to my former co-worker, Maren Walseth (now head coach at North Dakota State) for sharing it with me.
- 2 construction cones placed 10+ feet apart (If you work at a university, call the physical plant to ask about borrowing cones. It won’t work to use short pylon cones as they are too low. You need the height of construction cones)
- a circle taped around each cone (about 8-10 feet in diameter)
- 4+ ropes placed outside the circle (give each team a different number of ropes of various lengths)
- Place a basketball on top of one of the cones (you could try a volleyball or soccer ball, but the lighter weight will increase the difficulty; we put a Gatorade cup upside-down on the top of the cone to make the top level so the ball can rest on it more easily)
- To transport the ball to the opposite cone using only the ropes
- No one on the team can enter into the circle (even to get set up)
- Must use all the ropes
- Every person on the team must be touching a rope
- Ball can’t touch the ground (if it falls they must put it back on the cone to start over)
Here’s what it generally looks like when the teams figure it out
- What were the most important skills required to accomplish the objective?
- What kinds of communication were important?
- Was the strategy you started with the one you ended up using? If not, how did it change?
- How does what you learned apply to your team on the basketball court?
This one is much less complex. All you need is masking tape, a stack of newspapers and a measuring tape.
Each team gets:
- a stack of about 20 newspapers (the local newspaper gave me a stack of old ones)
- a roll of masking tape
Objective: to build the tallest structure possible using only the newspaper and tape.
Give the teams 5 minutes to strategize. Then send them to different parts of the gym with their newspapers and tape.
Give them 15 minutes to build the tallest tower they can.
Here’s what it usually looks like when the teams complete the task:
Once you declare a winner, use these questions to debrief with the whole group:
- what worked well?
- what challenges did you encounter and how did you overcome them?
- did you build the tallest tower you could? why or why not?
- what roles were important? (leading, listening, following)
Energize your campers’ experience by injecting a team building experience that will help them gain insights into how to work more effectively with others. Let me know how it goes!