Adventure Games: The Mountain Treasure

Adventure Games: The Mountain Treasure

Every year, Danielle and I have the awesome job of creating custom team-building games for the camp we volunteer at, Hope’s Haven. If you’re not familiar with Hope’s Haven, it’s a camp designed specifically for kids who are or have been in the foster care system with the goal of bringing fun and healing through Christ.

Anyways, these team-building games we call the Adventure Games. It’s a multi-stage story-based team-building (that was a lot of hyphenated words…) activity that has had a lot of excellent feedback from our campers (anywhere from grades 4 – 12). Since the campers enjoyed it so much, we figured that we would share it with you!

Our camps have up to 20 campers at a time, which is a lot of people at once for a team-building activity. To make it a bit easier on us and more fun for the campers, we use the first stage to split them up into teams. From there, we send them to three different ‘stations’ that they rotate between. If you’re already working with a smaller group, this isn’t a necessary step, but if you’re trying to figure something out for a larger group, this might be a good way to to divide and conquer.

Stage 1 – The Introduction

For this particular adventure games, we split the campers into two different teams, but we felt that these team sizes were a bit large. I would recommend splitting them into three groups if you’re a larger group.

The Story

There have been stories of an ancient door hidden somewhere in the mountains that guards a valuable treasure. You are treasure hunters searching for this treasure. However, the map you brought with you has been torn into pieces and scattered into the wind. You must find the map pieces to begin your journey to the door in the mountain.

The Setup

What you’ll need:

  • A table or two
  • Two or three ‘maps’ that have been torn into pieces
    • A simple map with the typical ‘you are here’ dot, a dotted line, and a red X at the end with some details spread throughout
    • We recommend using art or Bristol board to make the piece a little sturdier
  • At least one riddle per participant

For the setup, you’ll need to hide a number of pieces equal to the number of participants somewhere around your location.

How To Play

There are two ways you can do this. The first way is to use a single map and have a free-for-all scavenger hunt to find the pieces and assemble the map at the table. Once the map is assembled, the group can then split into different ‘adventuring groups’ and begin their adventure.

The second way is a bit more complicated, but gives you more control over the groups. Instead of hiding the pieces randomly, you’ll want to hide them in specific locations that can be associated with a riddle. On each riddle, you can have a letter or a number associated with the map it goes with. When the individual finds their piece, they go to the table with their number/letter and try to assemble the map with the rest of the individuals with the same letter/number.

Like I said, the second method is more complicated and time consuming, but it worked well for us and let us tailor the teams the best we could.

Stage 2 – The Adventure

At this point, your participants should be divided into their groups (if you’re doing groups) and ready for their adventure. With this stage, there are three stations in place that the different adventure groups rotate between. This takes a bit of coordination for the people running the stations, but if it’s done right it can run smoothly. We would recommend having walkie-talkies for communication between stations and having in-between games planned for any downtime (We ran into this problem where one group finished significantly faster than the others. We either increased the difficulty of the challenge for them to try again, or had a separate game to play while we waited for the next station to open up).

This next part is entirely optional. We found that with a larger group, it tended to get a bit chaotic and difficult to work with in the third stage. After each station, we gave each group a ‘rock’ with letters on it. Those letters would form words that matched their key verse for the week. If you have a large group, we would recommend having either having fewer rocks to work with (20 kids crowding around a table is a lot…) or encouraging a turn-based system where each participant places their rock one at a time. We’ll get to the details of it in Stage 3.

Station 1 – Glacier River

This station is all about communication. The idea is simple, participants need to get from one side of the river to the other. The only catch? There’s no bridge.

The Story

During your journey, you come across what looks to be a deep and fast-moving river fed by a glacier melting higher up the mountain. However, it looks like the bridge that spanned this river has collapsed. You need to get your team from one side to the other to continue your journey.

The Setup

What you’ll need:

  • 2×6 Planks that are 3′, 4′, (x2) and 5′ long
  • 2×2 Foam squares or carpet squares (We found a bunch of those interlocking foam squares on Amazon for relatively cheap)
  • Rope

Setup for this one is straight-forward. Mark off an area about 20′ wide section using the rope. The length isn’t very important, as long as there’s enough room for the foam squares. From there, place the foam squares into a pre-determined pattern (examples below). Place the boards somewhere on the starting side of the station.

Feel free to adapt the examples however you want. I would recommend testing out the activity yourself using your set pattern to make sure it is possible though!

How To Play

The objective of this challenge is to get your entire team from one side to the other using the planks provided. But there’s a catch, you can only have two people on a rock at a time, and you can only have two people on a plank at a time! The planks must be fully placed on the rock/shore for them to be usable, and if at any time they let go of the plank for too long, it gets swept downstream and ends up back on the beginning side of the river.

Depending on your group, this can either be a very easy or a very difficult challenge. If your group communicates well and you feel they would breeze through this, feel free to add some more challenging elements. Here are some recommendations from our campers:

  • You have to bring your supplies across the river with you. Two people are needed to move the supplies, but one can hold it.
  • Have a volunteer become ‘crippled’ and unable to use a hand, a leg, or maybe even their eyes (If you want a particularly hard challenge!).
  • Have dead-end rocks with something they have to bring with them.
  • Reduce the number of planks

Station 2 – Cliff’s Edge

This station is the classic water balloon drop with a twist!

The Story

During your journey, you come across a cliff ledge. Connected to the ledge appears to be a platform with a flight of stone stairs leading off into the distance. You know you can climb down the cliff without any problems, but your equipment is too heavy to carry with you. You’ll need to find some way to get your equipment down the ledge without it breaking before continuing your journey.

The Setup

What you’ll need:

  • A pack of small water balloons (Enough for there to be three to four balloons per group) or eggs (if you don’t mind the area getting a little messy)
  • A bunch of odds and ends that might be useful for a balloon drop activity
    • Scissors
    • Straws
    • Popsicle Sticks
    • Tape
    • String
    • Bubble Wrap
    • Paper
    • Cardboard
    • Paper/Plastic Bags
    • Etc

How To Play

This challenge acts a lot like a regular water balloon/egg drop. The group of participants need to work together to come up with and assemble a solution for getting the water balloon/egg safely down the ‘cliff’. But here’s the catch, not all of the materials are at their disposal. Hidden around the area are different bundles of useful material (listed above). The participants each need to find and retrieve a single bundle that they think will be useful and bring it back to the table. If you want to make it a challenge, you can add a 20 second time limit for someone to search for their materials.

The reason for the multiple balloons/eggs is so that more than one solution can be utilized. Participants can work on multiple solutions at the same time while all still working together. Once the time limit is up or they have a solution they want to try, drop it from a high place and see what the results are.

Station 3 – Hot Potato

The name is slightly misleading. This isn’t literally hot potato. It’s just a story mechanism 🙂

The Story

During your journey, you reach what appears to be a dead end. However, on closer inspection, there is a thick sheet of ice covering a large tunnel entrance. You also see something steaming on top of a ledge. Maybe that will help? Build a structure to reach the ledge. (Complete the cup tower game, see description below). On top of the ledge you see a pile of steaming rocks. You’re not sure how they got there, or how they’re staying warm, but you know you can use them to melt the ice. You must move enough hot rocks to melt the ice barrier before continuing your journey.

The Setup

This is a three-part challenge, but the supplies are fairly simple.

What you’ll need:

  • Large Plastic Cups
  • Rubber Bands & String
  • One or Two 5-Gallon Buckets
  • Paracord/Rope
    • Several loops of 8′ or more rope
    • Several tied to the rim of one or two of the five-gallon buckets. We did this by drilling several holes around the rim of the bucket and tying the rope in those holes
  • Tennis Balls

For the setup for these challenges, you’ll want to have several loops of paracord tied together, and several sets of strings tied to rubber bands (i.e. five strings tied on different points of a rubber band. We would recommend doubling up the rubber band if you’re using the cheap ones). Everything else is used as-is.

How To Play

The First Challenge

Normally, stacking a bunch of cups into a pyramid shape is relatively simple. Not so much so when you can’t touch the cups! For the first challenge, participants need to each grab a different string that is tied to the rubber band. From there, they need to use teamwork to maneuver the rubber band over one of the plastic cups. By pulling on the strings at the same time, the rubber band will expand and let them put it over the cup. If they release the tension, it should grab onto the cup. From there, they need to move each cup to a another location, stacking them in a pyramid shape (4 on the bottom, 3 on the next level, so on). They complete the challenge once they move the entire stack from one side to the other and build the pyramid.

This challenge is easy to expand and make more difficult. If you want to increase the difficulty, increase the height of the pyramid. The higher it is, the more control that is needed. If you have a large group, you can split them up into teams and have them build two pyramids at the same time.

The Second Challenge

Once they complete the first challenge, they can move on to the next one. This one we found was relatively difficult for younger ages, so some leniency or adapting may be needed.

To do this second challenge, participants will need to pair off, each pair with a single loop of paracord. The longer the cord is, the more difficult the challenge will be. Placed in the center of the pair is one of the five-gallon buckets. Participants need to successfully move a single tennis ball from one participant to the bucket. This is accomplished by keeping the cord tight and slowly moving it up and down to get the ball to roll toward the bucket. Once the ball is over the bucket, they can release the tension on the cord to have the tennis ball drop in.

This challenge sounds relatively simple, but it’s a lot harder than it looks, especially for younger groups and if the cords are too long. If you want to adapt this challenge, you could have them attempt to bounce the balls into the bucket from a longer distance. There’s less teamwork involved, but it’s still a fun activity.

The Third Challenge

Once everyone has their tennis ball in the five-gallon bucket, now it’s time to move the bucket to its final destination. The problem is, the bucket is going to be HOT with all of those lava rocks. Using the strings attached to the bucket, the participants need to move the bucket from one location to another (adding some obstacles can make this a more difficult and interesting challenge), and then dump the tennis balls from one bucket into another.

This is another one of those challenges that sounds easier than it actually is. If you’re not careful, tennis balls can go rolling everywhere! Once the tennis balls are successfully moved, the group completes the challenge.

Stage 3 – The Door

After all of the groups have completed their challenges and received the stones at the end of the challenge, they all come to a single location for the last activity. This last activity is fairly low-key and simple compared to the other ones, but it’s a good way to wrap things up.

The Story

You’ve completed your journey! You now stand in front of a large door, covered in vines and dust. On the ground, you see square openings the same size as the stones you gathered during your journey. Stones in hand, you must figure out the pass phrase to enter the doors and retrieve the treasure within.

The Setup

All you really need is a table or some sort of flat surface. As long as the area is big enough for all participants to be around at the same time. We tend to go a bit overboard, so Danielle painted a door on some canvas and we hung that up at the ending area.

How To Play

There are two different ways you can do this. If you have a particularly large group, have them come up one small group at a time and place their pieces where they think it should go. Once they have them down, rotate between groups, placing a time limit for each group. If your group is smaller, they can all work on the puzzle at the same time.

Once the participants have all of the stones in the correct order, you can state that ‘the door opens and you find a treasure inside.’ This treasure can be anything from a trinket to a snack (our campers love snacks!)

We used our key verse for the week for the passphrase, but you can use any word or phrase you want for this. It’s fairly flexible!

In Conclusion

We hope you enjoy the Adventure Games! We had a lot of fun putting it together for our campers and for you. If you have any ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments below! We’re always looking to expand and make our ideas even bigger and better. If you have any resources for other team-building games or have an idea that you think might work for another adventure, let us know 🙂

- Written By David D.

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