River Crossing Team Building Activity


In this activity, the team has to ensure that each member crosses a river safely, without spilling water in their bucket!


  • 2 long pieces of rope, at least 1m long
  • 1 long piece of rope, at least 2m long
  • A small bucket
  • Water, approximately 1 litre

Space Required: Medium. Outdoors, near a tree or somewhere where you can hang a rope from.

Group Size: 6 – 10 participants

Total Time: 30 – 40 minutes

  •    10 minutes to brief and setup
  •    10 – 20 minutes for the activity
  •    10 minutes to review and debrief


  • Lay out the 1m ropes on the ground parallel to each other, 4m apart. They represent the start and finish lines. The area between the ropes represent the ‘river’ that the team must cross.
  • Tie the longer 2m rope on a tree branch that is in the middle of the start and finish lines. Check to ensure that the rope is secure and that the branch can hold at least the weight of one person hanging on it.
  • Fill the bucket halfway with water.

Running the Activity

  • Explain the activity: The team is lost in the jungle and must stay together in order to survive. They have one bucket of water and must not spill it. They have reached a river and the whole team (and their bucket of water!) must cross the river safely. First they have to get the hanging rope that will help them cross the river, and then each member must cross the river one at a time.
  • They are given 5 minutes to plan their strategy.
  • The team is given their bucket of water, and they can choose who will transport it across the river and the method of doing so.
  • The activity begins with everyone standing behind the start line. The facilitator will time how long it takes to complete the task.
  • The activity ends when the entire team has safely crossed the river, without spilling any water in their bucket. If time permits, you can run the activity a second time and challenge the team to lower their time.


  • The team must start the activity with all members behind the starting line and end the activity with all members standing behind the finish line.
  • Each team member must cross the river one at a time.
  • If any team member falls into the river, the team must restart the activity.
  • If any water spills out of the bucket, the team must restart the activity.

Suggested Learning Outcomes

  •    Communication
  •    Teamwork
  •    Strategy
  •    Planning

Activity Guidance and Notes

This activity can be physically demanding, so it’s important that you judge the physical limits of all team members before conducting this activity.

If you think that the team can further improve their time after their second attempt, you can give them a third try at the activity.


  •    If the team finds it easy to complete the activity, challenge them not to talk during the actual river crossing.
  •    To increase the difficulty, you can increase the distance between the start and finish lines.


Suggested questions to ask:

  •    How did the planning time help you execute the activity?
  •    How did the team solve the problem?
  •    What problems did you encounter during the challenge?
  •    What roles did different team members play during the challenge?
  •    Why was communication important in this activity?
  •    How did the team act differently in the second round?
  •    What did you learn from the challenge?

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