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Introduction to Experiential
Games & Activities
Curriculum for a 2-3 Hour Group Workshop

James Neill
Last updated:
16 Nov 2004


  • Most of these "Project Adventure" style activities can be covered in a 2 to 3 hour "Introduction to Experiential Games & Activities" session.  The purpose could simply be to provide a series of interesting experiences to help a group learn about one another and trying out different challenges together.  It can also be a fun way to introduce basic principles of experiential education and adventure education, such as to trainee teachers.

Instructional notes

  • Most of these activities require no props, few logistics, can be done indoors or outdoors, and can apply to people from a wide range in age and background.  Most activities have a physical element, but participants should be thoroughly instructed to only participate within their physical capability, e.g., if the instruction is given to run, only run to the extent that one is actually fit enough to run.  In other words, the responsibility for physical safety is very much on looking after oneself. 

  • Note also that the trust activities in particular involve trusting others with one's physical and emotional safety.  These activities should only be used to the extent that the group is mature enough and the instructor skilled enough to ensure positive experiences for taking risks of trust.  To do trust activities successfully there needs to be a serious, concentrating, caring atmosphere, otherwise trust activities should not be allowed to proceed.

List of games & activities

Techniques possibly used/discussed

  • Environmental ethics (e.g., picking up litter, LNT)

  • Challenge by Choice

  • Group management

    • A well formed circle

    • Importance of learning names and providing conscious, positive, individual reinforcement to each person as early as possible, even if doing so is a little systematic

    • Dealing with distractions in nature (i.e., stop everything, pay attention, then start activity again)

    • Dealing with weather and environmental conditions in nature (e.g., help empower everyone with confidence by providing clear ways to in maximally comfortable gear for outdoor activity and make agreed on contingency plans with the group for likely changes in conditions)

    • Ensure the group are well hydrated and reasonable fed to allow maximum concentration on activities

    • Voice projection

  • Importance of physical movement and exercise

  • Demo of different group discussion models, e.g.,

  • Theoretical models

    • Positive Reinforcement

    • Experiential Learning Cycle

  • Debriefing

    • Set the tone early by debriefing the first activity or two - or capturing some other moment to stop the group and have them each express who they are and their viewpoint

    • It can then be OK to do a couple of fun activities, but the tone is set that if issues arise or events occur, it is possible to stop what's going on and have a critical discussion

    • Use a variety of debrief models, to avoid falling into a tedious pattern, e.g.,

      • One person at a time around the circle

      • Voluntary contributions

      • Finger voting

      • Line-ups

    • For trainee instructors and teachers, after each activity, ask if people know of variations or ways to use, adapt, apply the activity (or the learning from the activity)