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Group Building Activity

The Swamp (or Minefield, Sinking Sands)

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1. To let participants make contact with each other during active exercise and to verbalize some principles for effective work of our group.
2.To debrief on the important points on leadership, responsibility, roles, group work…

Description of the tool

The task is to cross from one side of the ‘swamp’ to the opposite side in a defined time (20')

The swamp will be represented by a grid made out of string/tape or chalked on the ground.
The grid with 5x6 squares it's ok. Each square should be enough for a person to stand in comfortably.

There is only one possible way to cross this swamp (there are just several squares they can stand on). Participants should stand in a line, holding hands, and once the crossing starts should be done in silence (participants cannot speak, neither do any noises, signals or mark signs in the path).

The movement through the grip is only one step forwards (not jumps more far away) horizontal, vertical or diagonal through the grid.

The trainer stands at the side and has the secret 'map' which shows which squares the participants can stand on.

When they fall off the 'path' into the swamp, or the chain of hands is broken, the trainer sounds the hooter and all participants does not matter where they are should start from the beginning again.

The participants have to work as a team to find out the good path through the swamp. The exercise finish when all participants have crossed to the other side safe and sound, or when the time is over.

1.Start explaining the situation (you may invent a nice story) and the rules of the crossing 5'
2.Allow participants five minutes to decide upon a strategy to cross the swanp (once the crossing will start no more possibilities) 5'
3.Crossing the swamp, ideally successful after some trials and getting to initial point several times 20'
4.Steam out after everybody crosses 2'
5.Debriefing: 15'
How do you feel?
How was the process?
What happen from the strategy design, who took initiative, who took responsibility, was there any cooperation, what roles were there who was/were the leaders (all in different moments). To make it easier mix with feelings and emotions: what happen when you fail/succeed in front/middle/end.
6.Link with Group building: 10'
what agreements to work together can we extract from this experience


  • Same activity as "Sinking Sands", also within this toolbox.

    Alper Akyuz , 14 September 2006 22:19:21

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SALTO cannot be held responsible for the inappropriate use of these training tools. Always adapt training tools to your aims, context, target group and to your own skills! These tools have been used in a variety of formats and situations. Please notify SALTO should you know about the origin of or copyright on this tool.

Tool overview

This tool is for

10-20paxs (for bigger groups split)

and addresses

Group Dynamics

Materials needed:

Bodies, hands, brains…, chalk or string and scotch-tape
Something that makes a loud noise (hooter?)
Better if Outdoor Activity!


45'-1:30' (depending on complexity and group)

Behind the tool

The tool was created by


(If you can claim authorship of this tool, please contact !)

The tool was created in the context of

Needs on Group Building and explore group shared responsability and leadership

The tool has been experimented in

Training Course "Introduction to International Youth Work activities" EYC Strasbourg 2004

The tool was published to the Toolbox by

Xavier Baró Urbea (on 13 September 2003)

and last modified

21 March 2011

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