Charles St. John
I use "Acid River" as an outdoor opening activity to warm up the group and as a foreshadowing of our work on The Five Practices. It also requires people to get into each other's personal space which helps open them up and begin to connect with each other more quickly.
This activity can be used to stimulate insights around problem solving, strategy, challenging, collaboration, teamwork, communication, mutual support, encouragement, and celebration.
Gather everyone on one bank of the river and have them divide into teams of 4-8 people each. Give everyone a "stepping stone" — a manila folder. Tell them that the objective of the exercise is to get everyone in the group safely across the imaginary river without anyone falling in. The river, of course, is full of hungry competitors, piranha, difficulties, and that the resources the company needs to survive are on the other side of the river. In order to insure the company's continued success, a creative solution must be generated that will get everyone across the river and have everyone step onto the opposite bank at the same time.
Tell them that they are individual teams but they are all part of one larger organization. Describe the rules of the activity (see below) and answer any of their questions. Teams have 5 minutes to brainstorm possible strategies for crossing the river. They may practice, if they choose, on the starting bank but not in the river (between the two rope/tape lines). Call time after 5 minutes of planning, bring the teams to the starting bank, remind them of their objective (to all step onto the opposite bank in unison), tell them they have 15 minutes to reach the other side and start them on their way.
Debrief: Some thoughts for your debrief
Try the "Acid River" and have fun!
Contributed by Charles St. John