Monday, 6 August, 2018 (All day)
How to help students break the ice on school camp

The first day on school camps can be a little awkward as students, particularly those new to the school, get to know each other outside of the usual school routine. However, these tried and true 'ice breaker' activities will soon have everyone relaxed and ready to enjoy the rest of the school camp.

The buses have arrived, dormitory beds claimed and nooks and crannies explored. Everyone is happy and excited. But once the dust settles a kind of awkwardness descends, and students look to their teachers for direction.

The first hours on school camps can really set the mood for the rest of the break – so it's important to start off well. But students, particularly those heading towards their teens, can pull back and become shy when they're out of their comfort zone. Everything is different on school camps, and some students may struggle to relax outside of their normal school routine.

But no fear .... these tried and true 'ice breaker' activities will soon have everyone involved and forgetting their awkwardness!

Sunshine Game

What's needed
Paper and texta pens

Group size

Ask each student to draw a large sun on their page, and then write their name in the middle of the sun. Students then pass their piece of paper around to the person on their right. That person writes something positive about the person within the sun, before handing the card on to the next person. Students don't need to sign their name to their comment – that way they're more likely to write something nice without fear of being teased. Continue the game until everyone has written something on all the pieces of paper.

Deserted Island Game

What's needed
Butcher's paper and texta pens

Group size
Five students per group

Pretend you are marooned on an island. The million dollar question is this: What five items would you have brought with you if you knew there was a chance that you might be stranded?

Remember: Only five items per team are allowed – not five items per person!

You can have students write their items on a piece of butcher's paper and then discuss and defend their choices with the whole group. This activity helps students to learn about other's values and problem solving styles and promotes teamwork.

Human Knot Game

What's required

Group size
Six to 10 students per group

Each group forms a tight circle, standing and facing each other. Everyone extends their hands into the circle and by intermingling their arms, grasps hands with other members of the group. Instruct people to 'be sure that the two hands you are holding do not belong to the same person'. The goal is to untie the human 'knot' that results.

Members of the group can physically climb over/ under/ through each other's arms to untie the knot of bodies. Note: It's rare but it is possible for a knot to be unsolvable or end in two separate circles.

Four Facts Game

What's required
Paper and texta pens

Group size
Smaller groups of four to six are best

Each person writes down four facts about themselves, one of which is not true. Each person takes turns reading their list aloud and the rest of the team writes down the one fact they think is not true. When all are done reading the lists aloud, the first person reads their list again and identifies the untruth. The team sees how well they did.

Banana Relay

What's required
One banana per student

Group size
The more the merrier!

Ask students to write their name on a banana and then hide the bananas all over camp. It doesn't matter if students are looking on. When it's time to play the game, divide students up into four teams and make sure they know the name of all their team mates. At the signal, students need to find their banana, and help their team mates find theirs. The catch? Students can only pick up the banana with their name on it. Students are free to call out to a team member if they find that team member's banana, but they can't pick it up and take it to them. The first team sitting with their bananas wins!

Human Treasure Hunt

What's needed

Group size
The more the better

Organise students into groups of six to 12. Ask each group to stand or sit together in a place that is separate from the other groups but of equal distance from the teacher selected to be the 'leader' of the game. He or she should stand in the centre of all the groups.

The leader reads one item from the list at a time. The team who sends up a person or group of people to you first that fits the description you have just given earns a point. For example, you might say "two people with a parent born overseas" and within each group the members must talk, find out if any two have a parent born overseas and then quickly send those people up to you.

The first group up to you wins a point for their team.

The group with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Other suggested human treasure hunt challenges could include:

  • Two people who have the same first and last initial
  • Three people with different coloured eyes
  • Two people with the same middle name
  • A group of people whose ages add up to 100
  • Two people with the same birthday month.