Coaching HPT Teams Team Concepts Return to Main Page

Toxic Rescue Exercise

This is an exercise for 12 to 18 person teams. Before the start of the exercise, the coach pours 2-3 inches of water in a 2 lb. coffee can. The can is placed on a round piece of paper that is approximately 2 feet in diameter. Around this is placed a 25 foot rope with the loose ends tied together.

At the beginning of the exercise, the coach divides the team into 3 sub-teams. One team is given 6 ropes, each approximately 8 feet long. The second team is given 6 carabiners. The third team is given a bungie cord. The coach tells the team that they are going to be given a rescue mission. The can is sitting on an island belonging to their customer. The island is surrounded by a lake of toxic chemicals. The can contains a precious commodity that their customer needs rescued from the island. If anyone touches the lake they will be severely injured. If anything touches the lake, it will be destroyed. The coach then tells the team that they have 20 minutes to complete the rescue.

The solution calls for the three sub-teams to get together and pool their resources. Ropes are tied to carabiners, which are hooked to the bungie cord, which in turn has its ends hooked together to form a small circle. Team members holding the ends of the ropes, then distribute themselves around the lake and pull evenly on the ropes to expand the bungie cord to pass over and around the can. Pressure is released and the can is captured by the bungie cord. Gentle, even pressure is exerted on the ropes and the can lifts and passes safely over the lake. If successful, the team can be asked to put the can back.

If the coach sees that the team is having no trouble figuring this solution out, the people who are holding the rope ends are blindfolded and the team is told that only the blindfolded people can touch the ropes. After 25 minutes, or when the team has successfully completed the mission, the coach forms the team in a circle of chairs and processes the exercise.

Questions the coach should ask the team:

  • What did we learn from this exercise?
  • Was it more difficult to be blindfolded or not blindfolded?
  • What did this exercise teach us about team communication?
  • How did our team communication process work? Could it have been improved? How?

Supplies needed for this exercise:

Six pieces of rope, each 8' in length

Six Carabiners (These are oblong circles of metal that mountaineers use to attach gear to their climbing harnesses). Carabiners are available for under $5 each at outdoor experience stores.

One empty two pound coffee can

One large brown paper bag, opened and cut to roughly a two foot circle.

One bungie cord (experiment to find one that holds the can fairly tightly when released)

Twenty-five foot length of rope (used to make the border or shore of the toxic lake)

Six blindfolds

[Return to High Performance Team Home Page]

Contact: [email protected]
Copyright (C) 1996-2002 Donald J. Bodwell. All rights reserved.