River Crossing

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Revision as of 21:08, 17 January 2008 by (Talk) (Materials)

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Communication | Collaboration | Team Strategy

Group Size


  • 1’ x 1’ squares of cardboard (half as many squares as people in the group)
    • you can also substitute 8.5x11" pieces of paper
  • 2 pieces of rope (or masking tape)
  • Several Blindfolds (optional)

Set Up

Create a river by marking two river banks with the rope. Make the river wide enough to be a challenge for the group to get from one side to the other (look at about 15 – 25 ft.). Distribute the cardboard squares – 1 piece for every 2 people.


The object of the activity is to get all members of the group safely across the river. Participants cannot touch the water (floor/grass) and therefore must use rafts (cardboard squares) to cross. The water is filled with piranhas (which eat people) so any time a group member touches the water there will be consequences (consequences can include starting the whole group from the beginning, the loss of eyesight (blindfold), the loss of voice, standing on 1 foot, etc. No scooting or sliding on the squares. This can be a safety issue and it emphasizes individual work versus teamwork. Rafts must be in contact with a human at all times or they will be swept away with the current. Once the group has started the process, your role is to take cardboard squares that are “swept away by the current” and to watch for safety issues. The facilitator can take away (or give back) cardboard squares back arbitrarily.


  • Participants must stay in constant contact
  • Each raft represents a symbol named by participants
  • River Sections
  • The tiles can only go forward. They cannot move backwards
  • No one can finish until everyone has left the “bank” of the river
  • Choose to add challenges like muting individuals, using only 1 arm, eyes closed/blindfolded, no one can talk
  • Give group an object that they need to carry with them to safety and discuss what that might represent
  • Create situations for them to draw from that are connected directly to their group

Debrief Questions

  • What happened during the process? What worked? What didn’t or what hindered the process?
  • What leadership was demonstrated during the process? How so? What did you observe?
  • What were the individual roles people played? Were members were comfortable with their roles?
  • Who knew what the process for crossing was? Who didn’t? How did you communicate the plans to group members?
  • What might the different aspects of the exercise represent in your group: the squares, the river, the loss of squares, the facilitator, etc?