Camp staff training can be a fun experience. Returning staff are excited to see their friends from last summer and everyone is eagerly anticipating the summer camp season ahead! From ice breakers and team building exercises are always a fun part of staff training. Here are some great training activities that might help you plan out this season’s staff training days:
Wrapped Around my Finger
This “getting-to-know-you” activity is a great way to break the ice and help staff get acquainted with each other. Use about 15 feet of unknotted twine or string and have your staff take turns wrapping the string around their index finger. While they’re wrapping they must be giving the group information about themselves. They can talk about where they’re from, their family, school experiences, pets, goals, favourite activities, etc. The idea is that they keep talking until the entire length of the string is wrapped around their finger. Then they unwrap it and pass it to the next person in the circle.
Although it might seem like a pretty simple activity, there is actually a multiple intelligence learning possibility that happens here, according to an educational theory mentioned by Jim Cain in Camping Magazine. Having a physical activity combined with a verbal activity can actually help people who are shy or nervous about speaking in public do so. The act of wrapping the string distracts the part of the brain that controls nervousness, frees up the activity happening in the speech centre and allows a nervous speaker to share more.
This is a high energy staff training exercise! Give each participant masking tape, have them fold the tape into a circle so it’s sticky side out and place it on their nose. Two camp staff go first, facing each other. They must make contact with their noses and as they pull away, the person who captures both pieces of tape wins. The loser automatically becomes the cheering squad for the champion and the winner is allowed to adjust the tape for the next round. The cheering squad stands behind the winner with their hands on his or her shoulders. As the champion continues to win, their cheering squad gets larger and larger always remaining attached. If they beat someone who has a large cheering squad themselves, then the entire attached squad of the opponent moves over and attaches themselves to the champion.
Finally, one person will win the game with a massive glob of tape on their nose.
It’s cool to see how the staff members quickly and enthusiastically become the cheering squad of the participant who beat them and eliminated them from the competition. It encourages good sportsmanship and builds character. It also is a huge self-esteem boost for those who make it far in the game, connected to a long line of encouraging cheerers. In the end everyone will be cheering and chanting the names of the final champions, creating a very positive and fun energy in the room.
Your entire staff has been captured by aliens and will only be released if they help the aliens drop their eggs on Mars without breaking them! Just in case the captured try to escape or call for help, the aliens have made some of the staff speechless while the others are totally paralyzed or deaf! Working together the team must carry the egg from A to B, wrap the egg in a protective layer, and drop it from a determined height (from the porch, on top of a ladder, etc) into the ‘drop zone’.
This team building exercise gives staff the opportunity to use different skills and work together towards a common goal. First divide the group into three equal groups based on what you know of participants: the noisiest/outspoken staff, the quietest staff, and the rest. If you have a large group of participants you can play the game in multiple groups.
- The noisiest people are not allowed to talk throughout the game. They are also not allowed to physically help. They must give their ideas on how to protect the egg only through body language.
- The quietest people are allowed to talk...but they are not allowed to physically move!
- The rest will be blindfolded and they are allowed to talk and move.
- All groups must be physically separated so they are out of arms reach.
The noisiest people in the group will have the most ideas, but are not allowed to talk or help with the egg, so the only way to present their idea to the quietest people is through body language. The quietest people in the group will have their chance to speak a lot, they are not allowed to help with the egg but they can tell those who are doing the wrapping of the egg what to do. The blindfolded people will do all the wrapping of the egg, they can't see what they are doing but they can listen to instructions given by the quietest people. The quietest people will tell the blindfolded people where are all the items are, and how to wrap the egg.
Everyone works together!
Debriefing is an important part of all staff training and team building exercises. It allows the staff to digest what just happened, express what was difficult or easy, and brainstorm how they can apply similar actions to regular camp activities working as a team. Spend at least 10-15 minutes after each activity to talk about how it went and how it can be applied in real life.
Check out our blog archives for more ideas on ice breakers and staff training!