What if there was a way to make team building activities even better? Well, there is. Try doing them outside! Planning fun, outdoor team building activities is one of the best methods you can try for engaging your team and fostering camaraderie. A healthy dose of sun and serotonin helps maximize the power of team building as your group solves problems, practices communication skills, and builds trust. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of outdoor team building. We also share 16 fun ideas and walk you through how to plan your next event step by step.
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What Are Outdoor Team Building Activities?
Outdoor team building activities are the things and games you do with your people while outside to build a strong team and improve the way they work with one another. These activities might involve conversations, parties, workshops — and especially — games.
There are truly thousands of different team building activities to do with your team. But no matter which you choose, outdoor team building is a great way to change the pace and instantly boost your employee engagement levels.
How Do Outdoor Activities Improve Team Building Skills?
When you’re outside with your team, you intensify all the benefits of team building activities by capitalizing on the mood- and health-boosting effects of being in the sun.
The benefits of team building are similar to the benefits of getting your daily dose of Vitamin D. Here are some things we know about being outside in the sun regularly:
Sun exposure increases serotonin, the bodily-produced chemical responsible for satisfaction, happiness, optimism, sleep, digestion, and more. So many of us spend more than seven hours inside looking at a screen each day. Studies show that little sun exposure can lead to more mental health distress.
When outside, people experience a mood boost and are more likely to be active and engaged participants in your team building activity and in the workplace.
Improves Physical and Mental Health
It’s long been known that outside activity is good for you! And research suggests that experiences in nature are associated with psychological well-being.
The better your people feel, the more likely you are to get their best effort. It’s well worth the investment to encourage people to get outside and provide opportunities for them to do so.
The outdoors also helps your body regulate melatonin — a key factor for reducing stress levels and getting quality sleep. Getting your team outside can be a quick and efficient way to help lower stress levels and increase overall job satisfaction.
16 Fun Outdoor Team Building Activities To Try
Getting outside opens the door (literally) to a wide variety of activity options that virtual team building can be limited by. The advantage of the open space and being in person creates the perfect storm for some serious excitement! Virtual team building is great for teams and comes with its own host of benefits, but keep reading for some fun outdoor activities you can try with your team.
Charitable Outdoor Team Building Activities
- Plan a 5K Run or Walk
Combining exercise with a communal effort to raise money for a cause is a great way to get active with your team! Your team can plan a philanthropic 5K run/walk or find one of the hundreds of races that support everything from breast cancer awareness and children’s hospitals to military veterans and people with disabilities.
Encourage your team to help raise money by donating to the cause and tapping into their social networks for additional donations. You can even make it a competition! Split your team into groups, encourage them to pick a group name, and see who raises the most for the cause.
- Plant Some Trees
Enjoying the trees while in nature is part of what makes outdoor team building activities enjoyable. Why not gather your team and give a gift to the next generation by planting trees? Your team can find a local organization like MillionTreesNYC, for example, and support the effort to create more green spaces in local parks, communities, and near schools.
Your team will connect over the shared satisfaction that their tree-planting efforts are helping to:
- Reduce climate change
- Purify and clean the air
- Provide a habitat for local wildlife
- Fight soil erosion
- Provide cooling shade
- Organize a Local Neighborhood or Beach Clean-Up
Littering, or improper disposal of waste products is a pervasive issue in many communities and on beaches. Studies show littering harms local wildlife, negatively impacts the environment, lowers property values, and makes enjoying nature much more difficult.
Team building activities give your team a chance to work together and cooperate towards a common goal. Giving back to a community by organizing a clean-up is a great way to rally your team to work together to help mitigate this environmental concern that impacts everyone.
- Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen
Millions of people go hungry every day. Soup kitchens aim to help with that problem by providing hot meals to people without housing. Helping those in need produces the kind of team satisfaction that money can’t buy. Your entire team will bond over making a meaningful difference in people’s lives.
- Do Random Acts of Kindness
Looking for a team building activity that is socially conscious, and available to do anywhere, at any time, for a group of any size? Try doing a random act of kindness challenge!
How it works:
- Split your team into smaller groups
- Compete as you complete a series of tasks designed to make strangers in your community smile
The team that completes the most random acts of kindness within the given time frame wins! Your team challenge might include acts for strangers like:
- Give a compliment
- Buy someone a cup of coffee
- Pick up 10 pieces of litter
- Hold the door open for someone
- Help a senior citizen carry groceries to the car
- Buy an ice cream cone for a child
- And more!
You can make this an hour-long event or even a week-long initiative! Encourage groups within your team to snap a photo of the random act. At the end of the activity, have folks share the reactions they got and how the experience impacted them.
Physical Outdoor Team Building Activities
- Go On a Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are an excellent outdoor team building activity to get your people excited and engaged. When you take them outdoors with your team, the possibilities are endless!
Here are a couple ideas:
- Make it nature themed: Split your team into groups and have them race to snap a photo of various items found outdoors like pinecones, dandelions, local trees, plants, and wildlife.
- Make it historical: Every town, neighborhood, and city has a history. Encourage your team to bond as they race to snap photos of local landmarks, buildings, and historical sites. You can also try a museum scavenger hunt!
Apps like GooseChase make planning this outdoor team building activity super easy! As the host, you’ll be able to see real-time game action with a live leaderboard and activity feed. Your team members will also enjoy the fun, user-friendly app.
You can also consider virtual scavenger hunts for any team building moments that might need to occur virtually.
- Practice Archery
Improve focus and have fun while playing a round of archery with your team! Most adults sit all day. Archery will help improve upper back strength, hand-eye coordination, and balance, all while participating in this entertaining outdoor activity.
Arranging archery for your team is as easy as finding a local archery club and scheduling a group event.
- Try an Escape Room
While not technically outdoors, escape rooms are incredible team building activities that happen out of the office. As a team, you’ll work to solve problems in an immersive, challenging, and fun group setting. Your team will practice communication skills, build trust, and bond over an exciting shared adventure.
- Throw Some Axes
Axe throwing is exactly what it sounds like — throwing an axe at a board made of wood! The goal is to hit the bullseye with your axe to score points. Your team will remember axe throwing for years to come because this out-of-the-box activity is a blast and sure to earn laughs. You can sweeten the deal by offering the winning team a prize.
- Play Hide and Go Seek
Adults can enjoy a game of hide and seek too! Split into teams and have one team close their eyes as others run and find a spot to hide. This game is simple to explain, and most people already know the rules. To increase the pressure, you can set a time limit for teams to find the other group.
This childhood classic is a great way to bring some nostalgia as teams hunt for their opponents. Sometimes, team building activities are just about having fun and sharing laughs to foster deeper connections. Hide and seek is the perfect, quickstart game to get folks excited about the outdoor team building activities you have planned.
- Try Geocaching
Have you heard about geocaching? It’s the world’s largest treasure hunt. Geocaching is an outdoor adventure that encourages your team to use the geocaching app or a GPS device to find hidden containers called geocaches.
Today, there are more than three million geocaches just waiting to be found. Have your teams race to find geocaches and share their experience hunting them down! Geocaches can truly be anything, so what your teams find will run the gamut. Common geocache content includes foreign currency, disposable cameras, keychains, ornamental buttons, and books.
- Play a Round of Mini Golf
Let’s face it, playing 18 holes of real golf is time consuming. But mini golf allows you and your team to have a fun outing that won’t take all day. Mini golf courses are everywhere, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one. Courses are often themed like glow in the dark, monsters, outer space, and even shipwrecks!
You can encourage your people to partner together and bond with coworkers they don’t always spend time with. However, your team will experience all the team building effects from mini golf no matter what.
- Play Freeze Tag
Freeze tag is another classic children’s game that’s sure to remind your people of simpler times. Freeze tag is different from traditional tag in that once someone gets tagged or touched, they can’t move unless another player helps them.
Here’s how to play:
- Select some team members to be “it”
- Set a time limit for these players to chase everyone else
- Make sure they yell “FREEZE!” when they tap other players
- Players who are not yet frozen can work together to tap frozen players to unfreeze them
- End the game when all players are frozen, or the time limit is up
- Take a Hike
Explore nature by walking a trail with your team. Hiking is excellent for health and overall well-being. Hiking will help your team connect as they lower the risk of heart disease, build strength and improve blood sugar all by walking in nature.
Here’s an idea:
Mix, match, and combine your team building activities by pairing a hike with a scavenger hunt. Before starting your journey, make a list for your team that includes the things and animals one might expect to encounter. See who can find everything first!
To make this activity more collaborative, you can make players work in teams of two and three to spot and identify checklist items.
- Host a Field Day
Hosting a Field Day is the perfect way to get some exercise, encourage wellness, promote health, and have fun while playing various sporting activities with your team.
Split your team into small groups and keep score after every activity. Announce the winning group at the end! You can make it extra special by hosting an official award ceremony, complete with first, second, and third place trophies or medals.
Try these games at your next Field Day:
- Sack race: Race to the finish line while hopping one-by-one in a potato sack.
- Three-legged race: Two people tie themselves together at the ankles and race to the finish line against other three-legged opponents.
- Tug of war: Two groups of people do a test of strength by trying to pull the other team to your side.
- Blindfolded obstacle course: Can your people navigate a course blind? Foster trust and build communication skills by having your employees take turns directing their blindfolded partners.
- Egg and spoon race: Race to the finish line while balancing an egg on a spoon. Don’t let it fall!
- Face the cookie: A hands-free activity that asks players to use nothing beyond facial muscles to move a cookie from the forehead to the mouth.
Laid Back Outdoor Team Building Activities
- Plan a Beach Day
Give your team a chance to kick it at the beach for a great outdoor event, sure to lower stress and promote happiness and well-being. Teams can lounge in the sun while using fun icebreakers to spark conversation that build connections and trust.
Bring a volleyball so people can play a game or two on the beach. You can also pack a game of Kan Jam. Kan Jam is a fun beach-friendly activity that asks players to throw flying discs to hit or enter a goal for points.
Consider bringing sandwiches, snacks, and drinks to ensure your team is well fed and hydrated while relaxing.
- Have a Barbeque
Fire up the grills and spend the day sharing and connecting through food. You can make it a potluck and invite your team members to bring a dish to the party! Give everyone a chance to share why they selected their dishes and what it means to them.
Try these conversational games at your barbeque:
- This or That: Take turns presenting two, confliction options and have players guess which you’d prefer or identify with.
- 20 Questions: Guess what object, person, place, thing or animal your opponent is thinking of by asking only yes or no questions.
- Two Truths and Lie: Can you spot the lie when players share two facts about their lives and a lie?
Don’t forget to make a playlist and bring speakers!
Get Your Free Game
The 3-Minute Non-Cringey Ice Breaker for Your Next Meeting
How to Plan for Outdoor Team Building Activities
Outdoor events are super fun but can sometimes be overwhelming, especially when you want everything to go according to plan. But don’t fret; below are 16 steps to plan your next outdoor team building extravaganza.
- Pick Your Activities
Selecting activities is the fun part. It can be helpful to first decide how you envision the day unfolding. What activities in the list above sound like a good fit for your team? Once you make a shortlist of your proposed activities, see what folks are interested in!
- Send a short survey and gauge interest in various team building activities. What you select can (and should) be heavily influenced by your peoples’ preferences.
- Your more introverted team members might appreciate a mix of high energy and low energy activities. Your itinerary should also include regularly scheduled breaks throughout the day.
- Location, Location, Location
Once you know what activities you want to include, it’s time to pick the place! If you’re doing activities that are contained to one location, like sports and games, you might pick a park or open field. But make sure your location is walkable if your activities encourage folks to explore the neighborhood, like a scavenger hunt or random acts of kindness challenge.
- Be sure to investigate the need to obtain any permits or permissions for use of any public property.
- You may want to rent an outdoor tent to provide a backup option in case it rains. If it doesn’t, your tent can provide some much-needed shade under the hot afternoon sun.
- Safety is paramount. Pick walkable areas that have lots of sidewalks and traffic lights for pedestrian crossing.
- Picking places close to your office or selecting an employee’s local community might be a good way to engage team members.
- Choose a Date and Time
When you have a location, your next task is picking a date and time. Getting on everyone’s calendars is tricky but tools like Doodle make the process a bit easier.
- Local parks or fields might be extra crowded on holidays like Memorial Day or Labor Day.
- Think through what times of year are busiest for your team and avoid those days, weeks, or months.
- Remember Food and Drinks
Whether team members are lounging on the beach or having a full Field Day, food is a great way to keep energy levels high.
You can explore a range of food options including:
- Hiring a caterer
- Ordering food from a delivery service like DoorDash or Uber
- Asking team members to each bring a dish
- Cooking together on-site via grill or outdoor kitchen
- Be sure to take note of any allergies on the team. To make things easier, do a quick survey of attendees to learn what they like, dislike, or can’t eat.
- Check that your location allows you to bring food.
- Not every park includes grills to cook food. If you intend on preparing food at the location, make sure you have the items necessary to cook and serve food.
- Have a lot of water on hand to help prevent dehydration from being outdoors and active.
- Inevitably, a lot of waste comes with food and drink. Remind your people not to feed wildlife and to clean up after themselves to promote a healthy environment.
- Invite Your Guests
When inviting your team, try to provide as much information as possible so they can plan and dress accordingly. Include a note that helps the team get excited for what’s ahead!
- Share the event location
- Include an overview of the activities
- Ask for volunteers to be team captain for any group competitions. You can even communicate what the groups will be ahead of time to allow them to pick a name and develop some team pride before the event.
Team building activities are a must for every team. But outdoor team building activities are one of the best ways to improve how your team works together and relates to one another. The good news is that outdoor team building activities are incredibly fun and your team will love it. But it’s not just more fun. Being outdoors provides a whole host of health and mood-boosting benefits that make your team building activities even more effective.