3 Team Building Ideas!

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Team Building is important to your participants and staff. We may get new teammates added to our staff, or we may just need some new games for your participants so they feel more connected to each other. Here are three fun ideas that John Collins a colleague of mine did at a meeting recently. Pipeline, Zoom, and Tennis Ball Balance. All of these team building games get your groups working together and talking to each other.

Pipeline: A fast-paced game that uses body coordination, teamwork, communication and planning.  Pipeline is easy to modify, which helps to motivate the team, develop communication skills, solve group problem practice, and practice goal setting. You want to get the ping pong ball from one end to the other without it dropping, not going backwards, or stopping. Great game to work on communication and patience with each other.

Zoom: Open this wordless book and zoom from a farm to a ship to a city street to a desert island. But if you think you know where you are, guess again. For nothing is ever as it seems in Istvan Banyai’s sleek, mysterious landscapes of pictures within pictures, which will tease and delight readers of all ages. Tear these pictures out of the book, mix them up, and have your team put these in chronological order.

Tennis Ball Balance: Your group will be given one rubber band, pre cut yarn strings, and one tennis ball. The objective is to move the tennis ball from one side of the room to the other just using these items. The ball can’t fall, and if it does you must start again. Once you get to the other side, you must put the ball on top of the cone.

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When you finish each of these activities, bring your group together to process how the game went. Ask questions like “What was hard about this?”, “Who was the leader, or did you have one?”, “Did everyone participate, if not, why?” Great way to have discussion so you can learn from each other and see their personality in action. I have more fun ideas in the Resource Zone on my website. Feel free to steal and share!


This Makes The “Happy Folder”…

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You may or may not have seen this story this week about a 6 year old boy saying thank you to his coach after a YMCA Flag Football game? If you haven’t yet, or want to see it again, check it out below. This is a great video and message to share with your staff or volunteers to show why you do what you do. When you volunteer or work with children, you never know the true impact you may have on them. This can get lost sometimes in the day to day work of getting jerseys, trophies, fields lined, equipment, and monitoring your budget. Youth programs are created to make memories and teach character development. Slow down and take the time to reflect on what is going on during the season and after the season. Ask the question, “Are my programs making an impact”? You definitely need to be organized in youth programming, but you also need to reflect and pause for the special moments that are created.

When I first started my career, I was struggling with a few things at work and even questioning my decision making. I was wondering if this is the right job for me. I had someone share with me one time about creating a “Happy Folder”. This is simply creating a folder in your desk drawer, and putting the thank you cards, nice notes, pictures, or anything that you want to save and look back on. You can do this with emails too. When you are having a bad day, open that desk drawer and pull out the “Happy Folder” and give yourself a reminder on why you do what you do. When you know your purpose, it becomes very powerful, and helps you wake up each day for that job. I love to do this when I am having a rough day or week. It will bring perspective to your current issue, and remind you that you are doing a great job. It will also push you to pay it forward, and write handwritten notes to staff or volunteers. I love a hand written note, because it shows that the person took the extra time. Texts are great, but nothing beats that hand written note. I will include this devotion and the “Happy Folder” into the Resource Zone. Check this out on my website for more fun ideas.


Goalcast – Lynn Gribble


I recently saw a great Goalcast video on my timeline of Lynn Gribble talking about your cell phone and how it increases your anxiety. It caught my interest as I am on my computer or my phone almost all the time. I need to do a better job of balancing my time with this. I definitely think using your phone and social media is not a bad thing, you just have to set limits. Just like anything in life, it can become an addiction if you don’t. I have also noticed recently that movies, music, and entertainment have lost creativity. We rarely sit in our thoughts to actually think. Most of the movies that are in the theaters are just remakes or comic books. I am desperately waiting for someone to come up with something creative like Forrest Gump or Jurassic Park. A movie based on a creative idea and is brand new! I think besides us as a society not sitting in our thoughts, we have also lost our imaginations along the way. We see everything right away, we don’t have to wait, and we are programming all of our day with actual activities or not giving our minds rest as we scroll along mindlessly everyday. Check this video out, and see how it challenges you or makes you think. This is a great devotion or community builder to do with your staff teams. If you have never heard of Goalcast, check their videos out at Goalcast.com for more awesome devotions and community builders.

I will add this video to the Leadership Tools section. Check out my website for more awesome ideas.


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I recently came across this awesome game called ProjeX! This game looks like it would be tons of fun to play at any youth program. ProjeX is an affordable projection arcade game that you can play inside and outside. You can turn any wall into a projection screen. To play outside you can put up on your garage, side of house, or setup a screen using a bed sheet! This game is portable and battery operated. The other great thing is that you don’t need any sensors, it is connected to the game! The digital scoring will keep track of your hits. They have three different target cartridges. They are basic targets, UFO’s, and ducks. You can team up with a partner or go head to head. I see this being a game in a youth program where you setup a tournament, and you would be able to rotate participants in and out.

Where can you buy this game? It is currently available at Target and Walmart. The cost of this game is only $49.99! That is about $10 less than a PS4 or XBOX One video game. If you want to learn more, go to https://projexgame.com/!

Check out more game ideas in the Resource Zone on my website!



Cosmic Dodgeball

Have you ever wanted to play Dodgeball in the dark? Give “Cosmic Dodgeball” a try. I did a post back in 2018 around this game, but wanted to elaborate a little more and bring this idea back to you. I received a question from Ireland this past weekend. Shout out to Hannah from the University of College Cork! I also just played in a Dodgeball Tournament this weekend that had a DJ, Last Man Standing Contest, and trophies for the winners. We had a great time even though we only won 1 game! Creating a fun atmosphere is key in to making Dodgeball so much fun. You may have read articles or seen different people talking about how Dodgeball is a “Bad” game or a game that creates bullying. They say kids feel bad about themselves after playing. Now this is just my personal opinion like everything on my website, but I disagree completely with this. I have lead Dodgeball with kids for over 20 years, and I think any game can get out of control if it is not staffed correctly, and there is no group control during the game. There are many creative ways to play Dodgeball besides just lining kids up on a wall and pegging them with a ball. Like I mentioned before, you create the atmosphere, the rules, and how you want the game to go. If played correctly, you can teach teamwork, sportsmanship, and teach a variety of movement skills. They are catching, throwing, dodging, and blocking. Check out my game Pin Blaster Dodgeball in the Resource Zone, a great game that teaches throwing accuracy, with the goal of trying to knock down bowling pins on the other team’s side to win the game. You can debate me I am sure, but Dodgeball is great. So what is Cosmic Dodgeball?

Cosmic Dodgeball is a game that is played with balls that glow in the dark. You can purchase these on S&S Worldwide. You will also need a playing space that can get somewhat dark. I have used Christmas lights to outline the court, some people use black lights and use reflective tape to outline the space. You definitely want to have some lighting so you can somewhat see the balls being thrown at you. You also definitely need music and a “DJ” to play fun music during the game. As you create the rules,

  1. Head shots don’t count
  2. if you catch someone’s ball they are out.
  3. Iif you drop a ball you are trying to catch, you are out.
  4. You must stay in bounds while playing.
  5. Time limits for games (3 Minutes) is a good time limit.
  6. If a ball hits you, and then bounces and hits another player, the ball that hit you counts. The other person is in.
  7. If you try and catch it, but miss, and the ball goes in the air, and someone else catches it, you are still out.
  8. You can’t block balls with balls.

There are many ways to play, these are my suggestions for rules that have worked for me. Go have fun and play Dodgeball. Email me with any questions. Tons of great games in the Resource Zone on my website. Check them out and feel free to steal and share.

Hell’s Kitchen and More Ideas…

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I am gathering my notes from the 2019 YMCA Youth Development Summit that I attended last week, and during my workshop I did the exercise of balling up a sheet of paper, writing an idea, and throwing it across the room to someone else. One of my favorites I heard was Hell’s Kitchen and teaching communication/team building. So we probably have seen one episode of Hell’s Kitchen? If not, it is pure chaos in the kitchen and probably something you wouldn’t want to imitate in youth programs? WRONG! You could definitely alter this show/game into an activity for your staff or participants. So how would you do this?

  1. Definitely clean up the language and focus on how to communicate while trying to make a dish. No yelling, but pick someone that is going to be the main chef that is giving feedback.
  2. Make cooking fun and easy for the kids and staff. If you are running on a tight budget, don’t let this stop you either. Some simple things I have done before are bringing in griddles. We made a variety of things on here. You can make quesadillas, pancakes, grilled cheese, and a breakfast platter of eggs, bacon, and sausage. I have even gone very basic, and had the kids make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and judged on how neat the sandwich was cut, made, and prepared. This is hilarious to watch!
  3. Break the participants up in teams, give them all specific tasks, and have a contest. Bring in some judges. If you work at school, invite the principal, teachers, custodians, gym teacher, let the school see your fun after school. If you are at a Y or Church, invite members in to judge.
  4. When the contest is over, eat the food. Sounds simple, but kids love to eat. Staff do too! Remember food allergies of course and use gloves!

Here are some other ideas that came from the exercise of throwing the idea across the room. These ideas come from YMCA professionals from all over the country. I told them I would submit their ideas that they wrote down!

Ideas for youth programs and working with staff…

  1. Facilitate more personal development/identity. Workshops for students and adults alike.
  2. Providing transportation to after school programs.
  3. Parent/Child events. Daddy/Daughter, Mom/Son, etc…
  4. Specialty camp programs that travel across the city. One set of staff deliver the program in multiple locations.
  5. Include youth and board members in club decisions and trainings and events.
  6. Cook simple meal that a family of another race/religion would eat. Discuss what’s available for them. Understanding culture and each other.
  7. Shadow peers. See what other programs are doing around you beside your own program.
  8. Satellite YMCA programming in parts of the state that don’t have access to YMCA’s.
  9. Meeting rotations. Change up where you meet.
  10. Making the programs more accessible to all economic backgrounds.

One of the main themes of their ideas, were making programs accessible to ALL. How can you help your community? Partnerships are key and important to helping grow. Check out the Resource Zone for more ideas. Remember, about 98 percent of my content is not original. My goal is to help your programs and to make sure I share these cool things that I hear at conferences or find day to day.

Makey Makey – STEM Ideas

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I had the opportunity to attend and present at the YMCA Youth Development Summit this week and went to a workshop about facilitating quality STEM activities that will support Character Development. There a tons of activities that you can implement with your participants and staff. Our workshop facilitator used fruit to control his power point presentation. I easily get distracted and thought it was so cool that you could use fruit for circuitry and coding. The circuit board is from a website called Makey Makey that has a blog with tons of ideas to help you with STEM. This circuit board is currently $31.78 on Amazon. This is a very affordable activity for your participants!

When working with STEM, you are able to see and teach many important lessons. I also love that you can dive deeper into a certain topic. For example if you are working on transportation, ask your participants tons of questions around this to get their minds moving and excited. During the activity your participants are able to learn scaffolding techniques, relationship building as they work in groups, utilizing different roles to promote responsibility, and supporting youth with managing emotions. When working with staff, use STEM activity for an ice breaker. This will be a fun way to introduce STEM to them and also give them hands on learning so they can lead their participants. I think visually giving them an activity is the best way to teach STEM. Notebooks are great, but you have to apply the learning.

During the activity there are 4 strategies you should do…

  1. Ask Open Ended Questions
  2. What’s Working, What’s Not
  3. Support Youth Investigation
  4. Allow Time To Discover Strength

Then when the activity is over, it is important to do these 3 strategies…

  1. Debrief
  2. Reflect – Great way for your participants to recognize each other
  3. Make a connection

When you develop these skills with your participants, this can lead to increased excitement in working in this field. In May 2016, there were 8.8 million science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs, representing 6.3 percent of U.S. employment per report in July 2017. The future is STEM, and teaching your participants and staff this skill is important. Science and Math are cool again! I will post this activity in the Resource Zone. Feel free to steal and share ideas.