Teens: that hard-to-please hormonally-challenged cynical group who generally get an unfair bad rap. It can be hard picking out team building activities for teens that will do what they say on the tin whilst appealing to a bunch that can sometimes be awkward but sometimes over confident, sometimes game and sometimes reluctant, and sometimes good sports and sometimes just a smidgen over-sensitive.
It’s a tall order, but all the more rewarding when you get it right.
So, whether you run a youth group or interest group, serve as a local sports coach, a teacher wanting to bond your class, or a parent looking for something wholesome, we’ve got a fabulous list of team building activities for teens.
It’s so brilliant that it might just be GOAT (that’s Greatest Of All Time to those not in the know).
Why bother with team building for teens?
There are heaps of good reasons why team building games and activities for teens spell good news. They build relationships, sharpen their sense of self, hone their communication skills, motivate and reward, and develop critical thinking.
Given that their brains don’t even fully mature until they are 25, yet we expect them to be fully-functioning adults before they are out of their teens, it seems only fair that we do everything we can to give them the opportunities to develop the skills they need.
So, we’ll also add learning skills like leadership, cooperation and problem solving to the list of benefits. And let’s not forget the big whammy: bonding. Teens are designed to be inherently social – it’s in their programming - they just don’t quite know how to do it very well yet. Give them an appropriate shared activity and you can help them along the way.
The lit list of team building activities for teens
Get them in the zone with a gaming bus
It may be a continual battle to get the teens out of their online world and into the real one, but don’t underestimate the team building potential of using what they love best. With a gaming bus you bring the real-world element of having them all there together alongside the world in which they feel most comfortable. Being able to game like this together, in person, will strengthen bonds, create friendly competition, and help them refine communication and strategic thinking.
Put food at the heart with pizza making
Lots of teens love to cook, but they need it to be a fun and social opportunity. Get them pounding out their teenage angst on pizza dough, laughing with each other over disastrous spinning attempts, and finally allow them to chow down together. Pizza and teens – they go together like fish and chips, wine and cheese and Tom & Jerry.
Challenge them to solve a mystery with a detective day
Teens love doing something new, as long as they are doing it together. They also love a bit of freedom to head out on their own. But hey, the adults kind of want to know what’s going on and where they are going. Lastly, there need to be elements of challenge and focus.
We’ve solved it all by creating Detective Days. One of the best outdoor team building activities for teens which actively allows them to use their mobile phone.
Let them bundle with inflatables
If you’ve ever watched a bunch of teens, they are basically over-sized puppies. They want to bundle, roll about, bash into each other and play fight. It’s some weird Darwin-esque hangover.
They are designed to bond in this way, no matter how much lunchtime supervisors wish it was different. The easiest way to give them what they want safely is to let them loose on a bunch of inflatables. They get to have fun like kids, without losing the cool factor.
You’ll be their favourite person, ever.
Let them loose with zorbing
Worried that inflatable mayhem is too open for roughness with your group? If that’s a concern, then pop them each individually into a giant inflatable ball and let them try to bash each other that way.
No one gets squished, everyone has fun, and they’ll work on their team building if you throw in some obstacles and challenges along the way.
Make their day with a theme park trip
It’s tried and tested, and has been an age-old favourite for decades, but one of the easiest and best team building activities for teens is to take them to a theme park. Always desperate to go with their mates, and struggling for transport, a trip to a theme park is going to be a winner.
What they don’t realise is that all that negotiation of what to do and in what order, managing boredom in queues, and encouraging slightly scared buddies is all valuable team building experience.
Snuggle down with a sleepover
Think carefully about your group and supervision needed, but teen sleepovers can host a string of team building games for teens. From pitching tents together to sleepover games like spotlight charades, the night will be full of opportunity. Think about the group and what will work best and, if you don’t want to be policing sleeping bags all night, divide the sexes and put the scariest supervisor in charge.
Oh, and don’t expect much sleeping to actually take place.
Take them for some park games
Team games are natural team building activities. For outdoor team building activities for teens that are free, simply grab a few sports items and head to the park. A game of rounders is sure to tick everyone’s boxes, or even good old-fashioned stuck in the mud will keep them happy, working together and thinking creatively.
Give them wheels at the roller disco
It was a hit with teens in the 1980s and it’s swung back to being cool again now – the roller disco. Unlike awkward teen disco nights which don’t benefit from the lubricant of alcohol, roller discos work because everyone’s got something to do beyond looking awkward.
What’s more, the DJs seem to have a good measure of their teen audience and have them doing challenges and games that definitely work in the team building stakes.
Let them battle it out at laser quest
Team work requires the right environment to develop. Pit two teams against each other in a fun game like laser quest and you’ll bring out the leaders, uncover the collaborators and encourage them all to work towards a common goal. It’s suitable for a rainy day and will give them memories to bond over.
Bring out the treats at a pamper party
Not necessarily just one for the girls, but have a think about what suits your group. A pamper party can be a brilliant opportunity for bonding amongst teens, vital for the effectiveness of any team.
Whether it is face masks or nail painting, or a spot of both, then teens will have a good time, chatting and spending time with one another.
Splash down for team building at an aqua park
In recent years aqua parks have been blowing up everywhere and they are brilliant when it comes to outdoor team building activities for teens.
Book them in for a session and watch as they collaborate to help their mates up the climbing wall, so that they can all launch themselves together from the top, or figure out just how many of them they need to jump at the same time to launch their 6ft friend from the air pillow.
Glue them to their phones with a selfie scavenger hunt
Let’s face it – trying to pry their mobile phones out of their hands is like trying to push water up hill. It’s not going to happen. Use them to your advantage by sending them on a selfie scavenger hunt. The idea is they need to take selfies of themselves with key things in the background.
It might be landmarks or objects, or the mission might be to strike particular poses. Put them in groups and get them working together.
Hit the target with a Nerf battle
A Nerf battle is a brilliant way to get your team of teens working together, having fun, and meeting their objectives. Best played indoors (if you don’t want to lose 5 million bullets), make it more of an experience by adding on challenges, such as Capture the Flag.
Swap the teams around to get different people working together and ensure everyone is included.
Give them a collab challenge
Teens usually have an incredible propensity to show just how amazing they are, if you only give them a chance. Set your bunch of teens a collab challenge: instruct them to create a product or project with a set budget or set number of materials. Give them a deadline and offer a reward.
You’ll develop creativity and innovation, communication, budgeting, and, of course, collaboration.
Build a human pyramid
Are you looking for a quick fire activity to get the teens focusing on their team building skills? If so, then challenge them to make a human pyramid. They’ll need to employ negotiation and verbal communication skills to safely and successfully build a human pyramid.
Get them to think about safety considerations first!
Go back to pencils and paper with Pictionary
Pictionary is a fantastic game and serves wonderfully as a team building activity for teens. If you want to really appeal to the group, make the list of things to draw related to their common endeavour.
For example, if they are a group of Scouts you could theme it around their badges, or for kids in a sports club it could be based on the sport.
Sing it out with karaoke
No teen will want to bellow out tunes alone, but put them with their friends and all of a sudden they are willing. As an activity, karaoke will encourage them to work together to overcome awkwardness and fears, and they may even be proud of what they can showcase.
They’ll definitely have lots of laughs along the way.
Help them escape with an escape room in a box
Of course, there’s plenty of fun and team building to be had by doing a real live escape room, but sometimes this falls flat with teens if there aren’t some adults in the mix. Instead, get the same experience in a way that suits your group better by doing an escape room in a box, or as a print out game.
The group will have to work together to solve the clues. There will be a shared camaraderie and sense of achievement (assuming they escape of course!).
Splatter them with paint at paintballing
Paintballing is a classic when it comes to team building and it’s an absolute winner where teens are concerned. Break the Fortnite mould and make them actually put in the legwork required to shoot their opponents. It’s challenging, it’s physical and the winning teams win because they work well together.
Go on an expedition
All teens need at least one mighty good expedition in their adolescence. Whether it’s kayaking for miles on a famous river or hiking up a mountain with a pack on their back, expeditions show teens what they are really made of, whilst enabling them to gain some independence at the same time.
What’s more, get the teens planning the expedition and they’ll really ramp up their team building.
Get them to play Silent Line Up
In Silent Line Up the over-riding rule is No Talking. The group is challenged to line up according to categories. It could be something quite visible like ‘height’ or it might be something harder to work with, like who likes chocolate ice cream best, or strawberry or vanilla.
This helps teens develop their communication when verbalising is taken out of the mix.
Let them be kids again with a game of Sardines
Teens occupy a tricky no-mans-land between childhood and adulthood. In a bid to be cool, they often can’t show that, really, they are still little kids at heart. By taking a favourite childhood game, like Sardines, you’ll find they all bond and have a great time together.
With Sardines one individual hides and then the others hunt them out. When someone finds the hider, they clamber into the hiding place too, until everyone is hidden!
Reach for the heights at high ropes
Teenagers are natural born risk takers. It goes back to the fact that their prefrontal cortex just isn’t functioning fully yet. Plus, put them with their peers and their brain is telling them that they need to fit in.
All-in-all, they push the boundaries and take risks that leave parents the world over with their hearts in their mouth. The trick is to channel the risk taking propensity in a healthier way and taking on a high ropes course is a perfect solution. Let them take risks with their friends in a way that’s less scary for their loved ones.
Build a team website
They want to be online and they are probably much more skilled at getting there than you are. Challenge the team to create a website. Let them work together to plan its structure and get the coders in the group (there will almost certainly be some!) to put it together. Together they will produce something that they can be proud of, plus boost their skills for their CV in the process.
Teens are, in many ways, the most idyllic group when it comes to team building activities. They want to be a team; they just need the opportunities.