Updated: February 12, 2024

20 Top Survival Team Building Exercises for Work

You found our list of fun survival team building exercises.

Survival team building exercises are activities that foster teamwork and prepare individuals for emergencies. For example, these activities could include a wilderness scavenger hunt, a survival cooking contest, or an emergency evacuation drill. The purpose of these exercises is to strengthen team bonds while giving them vital survival skills. These exercises are also known as “survival games for teams” and “wilderness team building games.”

These survival team building exercises are examples of problem-solving games and are similar to teamwork games, virtual campfire ideas, and team building camps.


This list includes:

  • survival games for teams
  • informational survival games
  • games that teach survival skills
  • wilderness team building games
  • group survival games
  • outdoor team building activities

Let’s get to it!

List of survival team building exercises

From Wilderness Puzzles to Leadership Training Tasks, here is our list of the best survival activities for teams.

1. Survival Relay Race

A Survival Relay Race is a fun team activity. Groups work together to complete survival-themed challenges. To host this experience, plan unique survival games for the race. For instance, folks could build shelters, start fires, or find food and water. Players will take turns completing tasks. Whichever team finishes the relay first wins!

This race is a great way to promote teamwork and communication. Folks must rely on each other’s strengths to succeed. In addition, players can practice their survival skills.

2. Emergency Evacuation Drill

An Emergency Evacuation drill is an important activity that helps teams prepare for unexpected events. During the drill, employees practice leaving the building quickly and safely. Workers can practice drills in case of a fire, natural disaster, or other emergencies.

To run a good drill, explain the purpose clearly to team leaders. Next, make sure folks know how to use emergency exits. Once teams gather safely outdoors, ask for feedback to improve the policies. These drills are essential for keeping workers safe.

For similar activities, check out workplace safety games.

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3. Group Shelter Building

Group Shelter Building is one of the top games that teach survival skills. This exercise helps improve collaboration, problem-solving, and communication skills. During this experience, gather your team outdoors. Next, provide limited supplies like ropes, tarps, and branches. The aim is to build a strong shelter to protect employees from the elements. You can gamify this activity by giving prizes to the team that builds a shelter the fastest.

This exercise has many benefits for work environments. By working together and using each individual’s strengths, teams will overcome challenges and reach a common goal. In addition, folks will learn to create a structure in a survival scenario.

4. Fire-Making Challenge

The Fire-Making Challenge is an exciting teamwork activity that improves problem-solving skills. Participants have to start a fire using only wilderness materials. Folks work together to gather materials, build a fire pit, and light the flames. You can offer a prize to the worker who starts the fire first!

This challenge tests teams’ ability to adapt and communicate under pressure. This exercise also encourages creativity as teams find new ways to start a fire. Safety precautions are important, so experienced leaders should supervise participants. Overall, the Fire-Making Challenge is a fun way to build teamwork, problem-solving, and creativity skills.

5. Scavenger Hunt

Hosting a Survival-Themed Scavenger Hunt is a fun way to challenge participants. Plus, this exercise encourages teamwork and outdoor exploration. Parks, forests, and trails make for suitable outdoor locations.

Hosts should create a list of survival-themed items or tasks for teams to find or complete. For instance, gathering specific leaves, finding edible plants, or building shelters. Teams should get the list and a map of the area. Hosts can set a time limit and give prizes to the group that completes the most tasks. This scavenger hunt is a great way to boost outdoor skills, teamwork, and a sense of adventure.

Here are scavenger hunt apps that can help.

6. Survival Cooking Contest

A Survival Cooking Contest is one of the top outdoor team building activities that mixes survival skills with cooking creativity. To run this contest, give teams basic survival tools like fire starters and utensils. You can provide ingredients or have participants look for edible plants. Folks will start fires and make creative survival dishes. Judges can taste each dish and give prizes to the best meals.

This activity promotes teamwork and problem-solving while letting individuals show leadership. Plus, this contest is educational and fun, making it a great addition to team building events.

Learn how to do a team cook-off.

7. First-Aid Skills Test

The First-Aid Skills Test is a valuable survival team building exercise. This activity can enhance workplace safety and preparedness.

Hosts can set up different stations, each focusing on a specific first aid skill. Examples include CPR, bandaging wounds, or treating burns. Before participants begin, provide clear instructions and demonstrations for each skill. Then, have individuals rotate through the stations, performing the tasks under supervision. To make the test more realistic, you can use props like mannequins, bandages, and fake wounds. After completing all stations, provide feedback and guidance on areas for improvement.

Hosting this activity helps reinforce crucial life-saving techniques. This exercise also boosts employees’ confidence in responding to emergencies.

8. Water Purification Demo

Water purification is an important skill in survival situations. A demonstration can teach methods for getting clean drinking water. Survival experts can explain the importance of clean water and which sources may have contaminated water. Then, hosts can show purification techniques like boiling, filtration, and chemical treatment. Practicing these methods together helps teams solve problems and feel more united. This activity gives practical knowledge and encourages teamwork. Overall, a water purification demo is a valuable addition to survival team building exercises.

9. Foraging Workshop

Hosting a foraging workshop is a great way to promote outdoor learning. Knowledgeable guides can teach participants about local edible plants. Teams can go to a nearby park or nature reserve to explore and forage. Be sure to teach folks which toxic species to avoid, especially if they look like the edible plants you are looking for.

While picking plants, hosts can also share recipes for them. Further, after foraging, you can host a group cooking event using these ingredients. This unique and educational experience fosters a deeper connection to the natural world. Plus, this exercise promotes wellness and teamwork.

Here are more workshop ideas.

10. Survival Fishing Game

When looking for survival games for teams, check out The Survival Fishing Game. This exercise teaches outdoor skills and problem-solving. Participants split into teams and try to catch as many fish as possible in a set time. Be sure to check your local regulations, as catch limits vary by state and fish species. Whichever team catches their limit first wins!

After catching all these fish, be sure to have a fish fry to celebrate. Fishing is a great team building activity, as folks can share fishing tips and bond. Plus, being out on the water is a fun way to relax.

11. Navigation Lesson

A Navigation Lesson is a valuable survival team building exercise. This activity can enhance communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills. To host this experience, ask a skilled outdoor enthusiast to lead the activity. Participants can meet in a nearby outdoor space, like a forest. Hosts will teach employees how to navigate using maps, compasses, and landmarks. Then, teams can use these skills to explore nature.

This exercise fosters trust among team members as they rely on each other. Further, participants will learn to identify routes, read symbols on maps, and overcome obstacles.

12. Knot Tying Race

The Knot Tying Race is one of the most informational survival games where participants test their problem-solving skills. To run the race, divide participants into teams and give them ropes to practice knots. Teams compete to see who can tie a series of knots the fastest and most accurately.

This exercise encourages teamwork, communication, and quick thinking. By participating, teams learn to collaborate, communicate effectively, and solve problems within a time limit. Overall, the Knot Tying Race is a fun way to build teamwork, communication skills, and problem-solving abilities.

13. Survival Gear Identification Game

The Survival Gear Identification Game is a fun and educational activity. This exercise tests participants’ knowledge of essential survival gear. To play this game, lay out a variety of survival gear items. These items may include multi-tools, compasses, first aid kits, water purification tablets, and emergency blankets.

Participants will identify each item, explain its purpose, and share how they would use it in a survival situation. Colleagues can work individually or in teams, discussing and debating the functions of each item. The game encourages critical thinking, teamwork, and practical knowledge of survival gear.

14. Disaster Scenario Role-Play

Learning what to do during natural disasters can keep teams safe. To prepare workers for these occasions, consider hosting a Disaster Scenario Role-Play activity. First, decide which emergency to review. Examples include earthquakes, hurricanes, or tornadoes. You can use props and decorations to represent the disaster area.

Teams can take on roles like victims, rescuers, and emergency responders. During these skits, you can demonstrate the right and wrong ways to react during emergencies. Be sure to discuss policies and procedures in detail so teams know just what to do. Group survival games like this help workers learn how to respond to any situation.

Here are more theater games for work.

15. Wilderness Trivia

Playing trivia together is a classic team building activity, and you can use this format to teach teams important survival skills. To begin, gather participants in a circle or around a campfire. Folks can either play the game individually or in teams.

During the game, ask wilderness-themed trivia questions. Topics can include survival skills, wildlife, geography, and outdoor adventure. Teams earn points for correct answers, and the team with the most points at the end wins.

Here are examples of trivia questions:

  • What is the most effective method for purifying water in the wilderness? Answer: Boiling
  • What’s the best way to keep food safe from animals in the wilderness? Answer: Hang it from a tree branch
  • What should you do if you get lost in the wilderness? Answer: Stay put

At the end of the contest, you can discuss each question to enhance learning and camaraderie.

16. Expedition Backpack Packing Race

A Backpack Packing Race is one of the best wilderness team building games that teaches players which supplies are essential! For this experience, set up an area with backpacks and a variety of camping gear and supplies. Next, split participants into teams of equal size, and give each group an empty backpack.

Teams must race to pack their backpack with all the necessary items for a wilderness expedition. Items should include shelter, food, water, and safety equipment. Participants must pack the bags effectively and with good weight distribution in mind. The first team to properly pack their backpack wins the race!

17. Bushcraft Crafting Session

Learning how to make supplies in the wilderness can keep folks safe outdoors. Hosting a Bushcraft Crafting Session will teach your team valuable survival skills. Participants can gather in a large outdoor area with plenty of natural materials. At the start of the session, gather a variety of materials like wood, branches, leaves, and stones. You can also provide basic tools like knives, scissors, and twine.

A wilderness expert can explain basic crafting techniques, such as carving, weaving, and tying knots. Participants can use their creativity to make bushcraft tools. At the end of the session, allow participants to showcase their creations and discuss their uses.

18. Survival Storytelling Circle

If teammates are comfortable sharing, then you can host a Survival Storytelling Circle. For this event, start by creating a cozy space around a fire or under a shelter. Then, have participants sit in a circle together.

Folks willing to tell their stories can discuss outdoor adventures or survival challenges. You can also provide prompts to start these conversations, such as camping trips or wildlife encounters. Participants can discuss what they learned from each experience. This activity teaches colleagues lessons about the outdoors and creates personal connections.

Here are more communication activities.

19. Crossing the River

Crossing the River is a fun activity that teaches teams how to interact with water. To play this game, divide participants into teams. Next, set up a fake river using markers or ropes on the ground.

Teams can gather a limited set of materials, such as planks, ropes, or makeshift rafts. The objective is for each team to come up with a strategy to cross the river safely without any team members touching the ground. The first team to successfully cross the river wins the challenge!

20. SOS Signal Challenge

Learning to send signals during survival situations is essential. During The SOS Signal Challenge, teams will create a visible SOS signal using limited resources.

To play this game, split participants into teams and give them basic supplies like branches, rocks, or clothing. Groups have ten to fifteen minutes to build an SOS signal, which should be large and visible from a distance. Groups can build the signal on the ground or in a tree. Once the time is up, judges score each team’s signal based on visibility and clarity. The team with the most effective SOS signal wins the challenge. Folks will learn a valuable skill while collaborating on this challenge.

Final Thoughts

Survival team building exercises are an engaging and practical way to boost teamwork and problem-solving abilities. These activities are a unique way for teams to learn survival skills and strengthen relationships. You can adapt these exercises to suit different environments and scenarios. Whether employees learn how to purify water or navigate through unfamiliar terrain, each exercise offers valuable lessons.

Next, check out our posts on leadership games, problem solving games, and summer  team building games.

FAQ: Survival team building exercises

Here are frequently asked questions about survival team building exercises.

What are some good survival team building exercises?

Some good examples of survival team building exercises include the Survival Relay Race, Group Shelter Building, and Fire-Making Challenge.


How does survival training benefit a team?

Survival training fosters unity, communication skills, and problem-solving abilities. These activities also teach groups valuable survival skills in case of emergencies.

Are survival team building exercises safe to conduct?

You can ensure your team’s safety during these exercises by planning carefully. Examples include simulating scenarios, hiring qualified instructors, and briefing teams on safety protocols.

Can survival team building exercises improve problem-solving skills?

Survival team building exercises can boost problem-solving skills. These exercises often involve scenarios that require quick thinking and innovative solutions. Practicing these techniques can help improve the team’s ability to handle challenges in the workplace.

What's the best way to organize a team survival exercise?

When organizing a team survival exercise, start by deciding on your goals. Then, choose activities that match your objective. It is also important to consider your team’s physical abilities while panning. Finally, ensure safety measures are in place and provide necessary equipment for each activity.

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CEO at teambuilding.com.
I write about my experience working with and leading remote teams since 2010.

LinkedIn Michael Alexis

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