Team-Building Exercises and Survival Scenarios

Updated February 21, 2017

The ability to work as a team can be very important in situations ranging from business success to physical survival. A group of people who recognise that their individual interests can be best served by working together will fare better than a collection of people who are all out for themselves. Burnout is less likely to occur when individuals can share burdens with others. Teamwork allows complex tasks to be completed efficiently and quickly.


Simulations of survival situations are used as exercises to help groups of people learn to work together. Without actually putting their lives at risk, groups are put into situations where they are asked to imagine events such as plane crashes, natural disasters or animal attacks. The group must then work together to solve their problems. The skills and methods of cooperation that people learn in these exercises can then be applied to social and business environments.

Real Life

Although far rarer than planned simulations, situations in which groups must actually work together to survive do occur. In these crisis situations, people who have had training in how to work together are far more likely to thrive under less-than-ideal conditions. In war situations, hurricanes and other extreme situations where the normal order of things is disrupted, teamwork can provide the mental and physical security that are essential for survival. Because each individual possesses a particular set of skills, the combined skills of a group of people are bound to be more comprehensive and useful than the skills of one person alone.

Team Building Exercises

Exercises for building teams can range from simple activities that take place in an office to weeklong wilderness experiences. Ropes courses and trust activities are popular methods of building team spirit. Ropes courses involve physical challenges and obstacles that require a group to work together to overcome them. Trust activities are designed to strengthen individual confidence that a team can be relied on for support.

Survival Scenarios

Survival scenarios move beyond the symbolic representation of risk and challenge people with life-and-death situations. Without training in how to work as a team, people may respond to danger and personal threat by competing fiercely for scarce resources. An understanding of the importance of teamwork allows people to overcome their panic and see that the chances for individual survival increase when everyone works together and combines their strengths. Whether lost in the wilderness or trapped at home during a natural disaster, groups who share food, shelter and skills increase their chances of emerging unscathed from an emergency.

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About the Author

Jagg Xaxx has been writing since 1983. His primary areas of writing include surrealism, Buddhist iconography and environmental issues. Xaxx worked as a cabinetmaker for 12 years, as well as building and renovating several houses. Xaxx holds a Doctor of Philosophy in art history from the University of Manchester in the U.K.