Team Building

The Norming Stage of group development is typically a welcome breath of fresh air after the Storming Stage. Although the staff is not yet at the highest performing level, some of the bugs are now worked out within the group, and good things are beginning to happen. This stage of group formation includes cohesion, sharing and trust building, creativity and skill acquisition. The camp director provides support during this stage.

Activity–The Blind Trust Drive

Participants are asked to choose a partner who is the same height. This activity should be conducted in a flat, open space with no obstacles. One person stands in front, arms extended as if holding onto the steering wheel of a car (the driver). The partner stands behind, with hands on the shoulders of the person in front (the backseat driver). The ”blind” driver now closes his or her eyes, while the sighted ”backseat” driver safely steers that person around the playing area. Remember, this is not a demolition derby or bumper cars, and a facilitator may act as the local law-enforcement officer, if necessary! Halfway through the activity, partners switch roles, and continue. After completing the activity, partners can provide feedback to their backseat drivers, and tell them what they liked about working with their partners, or what they would change about the guidance offered during the activity.

Performing

The Performing Stage is the fourth phase of group development and provides a feeling of unity, group identity, interdependence and independence. It is the most productive stage. Leadership from the camp manager comes in the form of delegation, for the staff has all the skills, resources and talent needed to complete the task. This stage is best explored using challenging activities that require advanced skills, but which can be successfully accomplished by the group. Activities that build enthusiasm are also helpful.

Activity–Bull Ring Candelabra

This is a variation of the teambuilding activity, Bull Ring, which will bring your entire staff together and leave them cheering at the finish! A Bull Ring is a metal ring with eight to 12 strings attached, on which the staff can transport a tennis ball. The challenge is for several groups to simultaneously deposit their tennis balls onto a PVC ”candelabra.” After working independently in small groups, this activity requires the entire staff to work together.

Transforming

The Transforming Stage is the final phase of group development. This stage allows staff members to conclude their time together, thanking each other and moving on at the completion of the summer-camp season. This stage is noted for recognition by the director, a conclusion and disengagement by staff members. Feelings of celebration and affirmation are suitable. Different team members may experience this final stage at different rates. Don’t rush for closure. For some staff members, this camp experience may have been the highlight of their life to date.

Activity–Virtual Slideshow

Ask each staff member to imagine having a digital camera throughout the summer, and when returning to family and friends, they can present a slideshow of favorite photographs. You can use an imaginary slide-projector ”clicker” for this activity, or a real remote-control clicker. Pass the clicker around, and allow staff members to talk about each photograph from their favorite memories this summer.

For more team and community building activities and ideas, visit www.teamworkandteamplay.com

References and Resources

Cain, Jim and Barry Jolliff. Teamwork & Teamplay, 1998.

Cain, Jim and Tom Smith. The Revised and Expanded Book of Raccoon Circles, 2006.

The stages of group development are based upon the research of Bruce Tuckman. For more information about this work, review the following article, written 35 years after his initial report: Tuckman, Bruce. “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups,” Group Facilitation, Number 3, Spring, pp. 66-81, 2001.

Dr. Jim Cain is the author of the teambuilding texts, Teamwork & Teamplay, The Revised and Expanded Book of Raccoon Circles, A Teachable Moment, Teambuilding Puzzles and his newest book, Essential Staff Training Activities. He is a former Executive Director of ACCT, Senior Consultant to the Cornell University Corporate Teambuilding Program and the Director and creative force behind his company, Teamwork & Teamplay. He can be reached via e-mail at jimcain@teamworkandteamplay.com

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