Monday, 30 April, 2018 (All day)
Students enjoying activities at a school camp

School camps are not just a source of fun; they also play an important role in developing life skills. Teachers have long known that the most effective way to teach students lessons about life is through fun and games. Chosen carefully, a simple ball game or outdoor activity can become a lesson in trust, strategy, team building and leadership.

Being part of a team and working together to achieve a shared aim is a valuable skill for students to learn – not only for their school years, but also for adulthood and their working life beyond.

Team building teaches students to recognise the value of their own contributions in life – as well the contributions of those around them. Many a camp-goer has discovered that the class clown may actually be a serious strategic thinker; or that when faced a challenge, the shy person that sits behind them in class has the capacity to become a decisive and effective leader.
School camps are an ideal setting to introduce and develop a range of life skills that encourage initiative, confidence, team building, caring and leadership. Activities such as raft building, rock climbing, ball games and orienteering can encourage personal development through communication, learning to trust and be trusted, and working productively with others. Team building exercises also help students develop capacities they may not know they even had – in a safe and nurturing environment.
The challenge for teachers and camp leaders is to tailor activities to promote desired outcomes. For example, if the aim is to foster leadership, cooperation and communication among students, camp leaders may consider activities as diverse as orienteering or raft building. Looking for kids to be challenged? Consider rock climbing or abseiling.
Team building games on School Camps
Games are a great way to encourage team building. Team-building games not only provide students with important practical learning experiences, but are also a source of great fun for everyone. Try these ‘tried and tested’ favourites on your next camp:
The Blindfold Hunt
REQUIREMENTS Blindfolds, a range of objects (e.g. plastic containers, erasers, a scarf, a pair of old sunglasses, an empty box of cereal etc)
SKILLS LEARNT Trust, effective communication and team work
The blindfold hunt is a simple and fun game that can be performed either indoors or out. Divide students into pairs. Ask one student to cover their eyes with a blindfold. Scatter various objects in the blindfold hunt area. The ‘seeing’ student must then guide their ‘blind’ partner to pick up the various objects using only their voice as a guide. Set a time limit for older students to increase the level of urgency – and need for cooperation.
REQUIREMENTS A large thick piece of rope
SKILLS LEARNT Strategy and team work
A classic team-building exercise that requires creative thinking, strategy and strength in equal portions. Split students into two equal groups. Ask students to stand in single file, one behind the other, facing the other team. Mark a spot in the ground between the two teams. This is the ‘danger’ line that each team must not cross over. Place a long, thick rope between the two teams. Tie a bright scarf at the exact centre of the rope. The aim of the game is for each team to hold onto the rope and ‘tug’ the other team across the danger line. The first team that crosses the line is the losing team. The game encourages students to think about strategy: students will learn that the team most likely to win will put stronger people at the front and back of the line and those less strong in the middle.
Ball Toss
REQUIREMENTS Soft balls of varying sizes
SKILLS LEARNT Team work and cooperation
A fun and fast-paced game that can be played indoors or out. Ask students to stand in a largish circle, leaving some elbow room between each student. Give the ball to the ‘leader’. The leader starts slowly, throwing the ball across the person standing directly opposite to them. That student then throws the ball back to the person standing to the left of the starter. Continue play, with each student throwing the ball to the person to the left of the person they got the ball from, until all players have caught the ball.
Once everyone understands the game, and a pattern has been established, the game can begin in earnest. Going a little faster now, continue to throw the ball around the circle in the same way, with each person always getting the ball from the same person, and throwing the ball to the same person. Once the group has found its rhythm, add another ball into the mix without breaking the momentum. Once they get the hang of that, add another ball of a different size, and then another. See how long the group can continue without dropping the ball. Harder than it sounds!
Marble Run
REQUIREMENTS Assorted small balls, from marbles to tennis balls. Lengths of plastic ‘half pipe’ tubing (wide enough for a tennis ball to roll along)
SKILLS LEARNT Teamwork and strategy
The marble run is a fun, fast-paced activity that can be modified to suit the skill level and age of students. The aim of the game is for students to transport a marble or ball from one point to another across a room or oval, using only the lengths of half-pipe tubing. Students roll the ball down their piece of tubing to be ‘caught’ by another student, and so on until the ball reaches the other side. The team that drops the ball is out.
Rainy Day Picture Game
REQUIREMENTS Several sets of sequential picture cards
SKILLS LEARNT Patience, communication and understanding another person’s point of view
An ideal game for a rainy day. Divide students into small groups. Give each student a sequential picture, but ask them not to show anyone else in their group. The aim of the game is for each group to create a unified story from their set of pictures. Students must work out in what sequence the cards go by talking through how the story might go. 
Team building activities on school camps
What activities teach what skills? Match the activities at your next camp to the life skills you wish to develop in students. For example:
• ORIENTEERING fosters leadership, effective communication and cooperation.
• OBSTACLE COURSES rely on contribution and co-operation.
• HIGH ROPE ACTIVITIES promote trust and individual achievement.
• RAFT BUILDING fosters consultation, co-operation and friendly competition
• CAMPFIRE COOKING helps students develop self reliance and initiative.
• ROCK WALL CLIMBING encourages trust and interdependence.