What is Adventure Team Building?

Adventure Team Building is a social and emotional learning program where participants solve highly engaging challenges together. For example, how do 15 teens organize themselves to get each member of the group through a turning jump rope without touching the rope and only allowing one turn of the rope between each person? The trial and error nature of such a challenge requires communication, planning, responsibility, trust, support and patience. The activity provides the opportunity for participants to act in pro-social ways and experience themselves as helpful, supportive people who can trust and be trusted.

This program at Wagon Road Camp uses the Project Adventure, Inc. approach to adventure. That approach is based on three main concepts. The first is The Full Value Contract (FVC). This is a statement of ground rules that values each participant at full value. All are important. The Full Value Contract is put simply as positive statements to guide a group’s interactions. The six parts of the FVC are:

Be Here • Be Safe • Be Honest • Commit to Goals • Let Go and Move On • Care for Self & Others

These ground rules are given to groups at the beginning of their work to set the context of the team building. Then as they work together, participants add concepts that the group members find important. For example, a group may add “positive attitude” as an additional ground rule to encourage participants to stop making sarcastic remarks about new ideas. In this way, the FVC is a living record of a group’s development.

The second concept is Challenge By Choice. This respects the individual’s personal decision to find his or her level of participation in the activities. It is critical to learning that the individual make a decision to engage in the work. This opens up the mind to new possibilities and learning. Coercion removes the focus from learning and places it on powerlessness.

The final concept is Experiential Learning. The activities in Adventure Team Building are designed for participants to have the opportunity to try an activity and then reflect on that attempt. That reflection or debriefing of an activity is the important moment of learning where group members can share observations and make changes in behavior so that success is more likely. This is trial and error with an opportunity to learn and plan.