Team building exercises are exercises developed to strengthen teams of individuals, or to encourage bonding among people who are in school together or cooperating on a project. In some cases, a group may have a budget for team building exercises which includes special trips and retreats: in others, the exercises may be simple games that are carried out in the “home base” environment to foster friendships. In all instances, team building exercises require cooperation between participating individuals, which encourages team work and allows strangers to get to know each other better.
The most common types of team building exercises are those which are designed to be done in an office or classroom environment. These types of exercises might happen in the early weeks of school, or when a group of people is preparing to collaborate on a project or training. Many of them include simple logic puzzles, word games, or other activities that require physical or mental cooperation. In addition to getting a group thinking of a team, these team building exercises also serve as ice breakers, letting people learn interesting things about each other and shed some of their natural shyness.
More advanced team building exercises involve going to the outside world on a trip or retreat. Corporations often do this, and some colleges and institutions do as well. Examples of outdoor team building exercises include orienteering, scavenger hunts, ropes courses, and camping trips. These team building exercises usually require an even greater level of trust and cooperation between the participants, and in some cases may last a week or more at a specialized retreat. Usually the participants return with deeper connections to one another that serve them well in the months or years to come.
Simple team building exercises to try with a class or office include trust falls, in which participants are asked to stand with their back to the group and allow themselves to fall backward, relying on other members of the group to catch them before they hit the ground. Scavenger hunts are also popular, and can be restricted to a small area or expand over an entire city, depending on the level of participation desired. A popular way for people to learn more about each other is “Walk Across the Room,” an exercise when the facilitator reads statements such as “I have no siblings,” or “I am from a small town” out loud. If the statement is true for a participant, he or she steps forward: if it is false, the participant remains in place. By looking around, people can acquire basic facts about each other.