Lost At Sea Challenge

Classes need a constant drip-feeding of team building games in order to keep everyone together and to appreciate different strengths and weaknesses.

They tend to be given at the start of the year and then aren’t touched again until the start of the next academic year but that is madness.

During the year, students change their outlooks and mindsets, their skill sets change and as people they grow so the picture is forever changing.

Every class needs constant input when it comes to working as a team as personalities naturally evolve and change. Team building games give everyone an opportunity to interact and overcome obstacles as well as learn more about their own psychology and that of their peers.

Survival challenges work well as team building exercises because they teach students how to work together in a time constrained environment, they promote collaboration and students get to experience pressure when making decisions. They also help students appreciate a diversity in thinking and how to be respectful of different views and opinions.

There is one challenge that is well worth doing with a class and it’s a classic ‘survival’ ranking challenge.

Here is the scenario:

You are with three friends on board a yacht and you get lost at sea in the Pacific Ocean. You get caught in a storm and your vessel starts to take on lots of water and you begin slowly sinking. Lots of vital equipment gets swept away leaving just  15 undamaged items.

What do you consider to be the most important items for helping you to survive?

Ranks these in order of importance from 1-15, with 1 being the most important to 15 being the least important for survival.

Instructions about what to do can be found in the following link which goes into everything you need to know with print-outs and suggested answers:

Download (pdf) the complete ‘Lost at Sea’ team building game.

With scenarios such as this, there are stressors deliberately included (e.g. resource constraints, time limits, etc)  to help make the scenario challenging, fun, and educational.

According to the US Coastguard, the basic supplies needed when a person is stranded mid-ocean are articles to attract attention and aid survival until rescue arrives. Here are their ranked suggestions:

1. Shaving mirror

Of all the items, the mirror is absolutely critical. It is the most powerful tool you have for communicating your presence. In sunlight, a simple mirror can generate five to seven million candlepower of light.
The reflected sunbeam can even be seen beyond the horizon.

2. A 10 litre can of oil/petroleum mixture

Critical for signalling. This mixture will float on water and could be ignited with paper and a match.

3. A 25 litre container of water

Necessary to replace fluids lost through perspiration.

4. One case of army rations

Basic food intake.

5. 20 square feet of opaque plastic

Can be used to collect rain water and provide shelter from the elements.

6. 2 boxes of chocolate bars

Reserve food supply.

7. Fishing kit

Ranked lower than chocolate because there is not guarantee that you will catch any fish, while you already have the chocolate on hand.

8. 15 ft of nylon rope

Could be used to lash people or equipment together to prevent it being washed overboard.

9. Floating seat cushion

A life preserver if someone fell overboard.

10. Shark repellent

Has been shown to be effective only 50% of the time.

11. One quart of 160% proof rum

Contains 80% alcohol, which is enough to be used as an anaesthetic for any injuries, otherwise of little value. It would cause dehydration if consumed.

12. Small transistor radio

Of no use without a transmitter. You would also be out of range of any radio station.

13. Maps of the Pacific Ocean

Worthless without navigation equipment. It does not matter where you are, but where the rescuers are.

14. Mosquito netting

There are NO mosquitos in the mid-Pacific. 

15. A sextant

Useless without the relevant tables and a chronometer. 

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