A great activity for everyone


Navigate the Minefield: Blindfolded teamwork like never before!

By Jon Zajac

What is Minefield?

The Minefield icebreaker activity is an engaging and interactive exercise designed to promote teamwork, enhance problem-solving skills, and develop trust among participants. As an observer and facilitator, I can attest to its ability to foster a deeper understanding between individuals as they work together to overcome shared obstacles. The activity involves pairs of participants, where one person, the ‘walker’, is blindfolded and tasked with traversing a minefield filled with small objects, while their partner, the ‘navigator’, provides verbal guidance from outside the field.

The purpose of this exercise is three-fold: first, to build trust between participants as they rely on each other’s communication and guidance; second, to enhance problem-solving skills through real-time obstacles and pressure; and third, to encourage clear communication by requiring precise verbal cues from navigators. By participating in this activity, individuals not only have fun but also gain valuable insights into their own communication styles, the importance of trust in relationships, and the power of collaboration when dealing with challenges.

During the debriefing session, participants reflect on their experiences by sharing what they found uplifting, frustrating, or enlightening about the process. This reflection period highlights lessons learned related to effective communication, trust, dealing with obstacles under pressure, and the importance of detailed instructions. The Minefield icebreaker activity not only serves as a fun game but also offers a profound experience that surpasses the surface level act of mere ice-breaking. Through encountered struggles and successes, the participants come away with a deeper understanding of one another and the value of collaboration and clear communication in both personal and professional settings.

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Rules for Minefield

  1. Walkers must remain blindfolded throughout the trek.
  2. Any physical guiding (e.g., touching or pulling) is not allowed.
  3. If a walker steps on a mine, the pair must start over.
  4. Only the navigators can speak; walkers are not allowed to communicate verbally during their trek.

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Materials needed for Minefield

  • Blindfolds: For use by the walkers in each pair to block their vision during the activity.
  • Small objects (cones, foam balls, balloons): To serve as the “mines” scattered throughout the playing area. These should be small enough that they don’t cause injury on contact but visible and large enough to notice while walking.
  • Large, open space: An indoor room or outdoor area clear of obstructions, providing ample room for pairs to maneuver around the “mines” without congestion. The size of the space will depend on the number of participants in the activity.
  • Markers (cones, tape): To clearly designate the start and finish lines at opposite ends of the minefield.

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Setting up for Minefield

To set up the Minefield icebreaker activity, you will need a large, open space that can accommodate all the participants with room to maneuver. The exact size of the area will depend on the number of participants but should be spacious enough to ensure smooth movement and prevent congestion.

Next, randomly place ‘mines’ across the designated playing field. These ‘mines’ can consist of any small objects that won’t cause injury upon contact, such as cones, foam balls, or balloons. Ensure there is sufficient space between each mine to create challenging yet navigable paths for the participants. Aim for an estimated spacing of at least one square meter (or yard) per mine. Clearly mark the start and finish lines at opposite ends of the ‘minefield.’

Once you have prepared the playing area, gather all participants and divide them into pairs for this icebreaker activity. In each pair, designate one person as the ‘navigator’ who will remain outside the minefield, and the other person as the ‘walker,’ who will be blindfolded and tasked with traversing through the minefield based on their partner’s verbal instructions.

Lastly, ensure that all necessary safety measures are in place. Oversee the minefield closely to monitor movements and maintain a safe environment for all participants. Check the blindfolds to ensure they adequately block vision without causing discomfort or slipping off. Pay attention to the shoes and mobility of the walkers to prevent trips or injuries, and avoid any physical guiding between partners throughout the activity.

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How to play Minefield

1. Designate the Minefield Area Choose a spacious, open area that can accommodate all participants comfortably. This could be an indoor room free of obstructions or an outdoor grassy patch. The size of the space will depend on the number of participants, but there should be enough room for small groups to navigate without congestion.

2. Prepare the Mines Gather soft objects such as foam balls, balloons, or small cones to represent the “mines”. Place these items randomly across the designated playing area, ensuring there is ample space between each one for challenging yet navigable paths. Aim for at least one square meter (or yard) per mine as a guideline. Clearly mark the start and finish lines at opposite ends of the “minefield.”

3. Divide Participants into Pairs Assemble all participants and clarify the objective. Form pairs, ideally with individuals who do not know each other well to enhance the icebreaker aspect. In each pair, assign one person as the ‘navigator’ and the other as the ‘walker’.

4. Explain Roles and Rules Navigators will remain outside the minefield and direct their blindfolded partner (the walker) through it using only verbal cues. Walkers must rely entirely on their partner’s guidance, without any physical assistance, to reach the other side without touching a mine. If a walker steps on a mine, the pair must restart.

5. Implement Safety Measures While supervising the activity, ensure all movements are safe and blindfolds do not obstruct vision excessively or become unsafe. Check participants’ shoes and mobility, and make certain there is nothing in the ‘field’ that could trip or injure anyone.

6. Time the Session Typically, this activity lasts 20-30 minutes, including briefing, execution, and a debriefing session where participants share their experiences, discuss lessons learned, and explore how these principles can be applied to everyday interactions or teamwork in various settings.

7. Encourage Reflection Pose thought-provoking questions during the debriefing session. Examples include: “How did it feel to entirely rely on someone else’s guidance?”; “What communication techniques worked best?”; and “How can the principles learned during this activity apply to your everyday interactions or teamwork at school, workplace, or family?”

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Benefits of Minefield

  • Improved Communication: The Minefield icebreaker forces participants to hone their verbal communication skills, as they must rely solely on spoken instructions to navigate the ‘minefield’. This experience can help improve overall communication in various aspects of life, including personal relationships and professional settings.
  • Enhanced Trust: By placing blind trust in their partner’s guidance, individuals learn the importance of trust in teamwork. This newfound appreciation for trust can lead to stronger interpersonal connections and a more effective working environment.
  • Better Problem-Solving Skills: The challenge presented by the Minefield activity encourages participants to think critically and creatively, as they work together to find the safest path through the ‘minefield’. These problem-solving skills are invaluable in everyday life and can help individuals tackle complex issues more efficiently.
  • Conflict Resolution: When faced with obstacles or setbacks during the game, participants must learn to manage their emotions and work together to overcome these challenges. This experience can translate into better conflict resolution skills in real-life situations, fostering a more harmonious environment for all involved.
  • Boosted Morale: The success achieved through teamwork in the Minefield icebreaker can boost morale and foster a sense of accomplishment among participants. This positive energy can carry over into other areas of life, leading to increased motivation and productivity.
  • Enhanced Empathy: By experiencing firsthand what it’s like to rely on someone else’s guidance, participants often develop greater empathy for others in their daily lives. This heightened sense of understanding and compassion can lead to stronger relationships and a more inclusive community.
  • Deeper Connection: Sharing the challenges and successes of the Minefield icebreaker activity creates a bond between participants, fostering a deeper connection and paving the way for stronger teamwork in the future. This newfound camaraderie can lead to a more cohesive group dynamic and improved overall performance.
  • Increased Self-Awareness: The Minefield icebreaker offers participants an opportunity to reflect on their own communication style, problem-solving abilities, and trustworthiness. By identifying areas for improvement, individuals can work towards becoming better team players and more effective communicators.
  • Greater Patience: As participants navigate the ‘minefield’, they learn the importance of patience and persistence in achieving their goals. This newfound patience can help reduce stress and frustration in everyday situations, leading to a more balanced and resilient mindset.
  • Active Listening: The Minefield icebreaker highlights the value of active listening, as navigators must carefully consider their partner’s instructions to ensure safe passage through the ‘minefield’. This heightened focus on attentive listening can lead to better understanding and collaboration in various aspects of life, from personal relationships to professional projects.

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Skills built with Minefield

  • Teamwork: The Minefield icebreaker emphasizes the importance of working together as a team to achieve a common goal. It highlights that by combining individual strengths and effectively communicating, teams can overcome even the most challenging obstacles.

  • Problem-Solving Skills: This activity encourages participants to think critically and creatively when faced with a problem. By navigating through the minefield using only verbal cues, players develop their ability to analyze situations and find effective solutions.

  • Trust: Stepping into a blindfolded trust fall with your partner, participants learn to rely on each other’s abilities and decisions. This experience builds confidence in one another and fosters an atmosphere of mutual support.

  • Communication: The Minefield icebreaker places significant importance on clear and concise communication between team members. By practicing active listening and providing precise instructions, participants can enhance their overall communication skills.

  • Empathy: As individuals navigate through the minefield, they gain a deeper understanding of their partner’s perspective and feelings, allowing them to develop stronger emotional connections and foster an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust.

  • Leadership: The Minefield icebreaker challenges participants to take turns leading and following. By doing so, they learn the nuances of effective leadership, such as inspiring confidence in others, active listening, and providing clear guidance.

  • Resilience: Failing and starting over is an integral part of the Minefield activity. This experience teaches players that setbacks are opportunities for growth and that perseverance in the face of adversity can lead to success.

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Why I like Minefield

As someone who values teamwork and effective communication, I find the Minefield icebreaker to be an exceptional activity. The primary reason is that it compels participants to rely on each other in a way that’s both fun and challenging. By placing individuals in a situation where they must trust their partner’s judgment, this icebreaker cultivates a sense of camaraderie that goes beyond typical small talk or forced interactions.

One aspect I particularly appreciate is the emphasis on verbal communication. In today’s tech-driven world, it’s easy to overlook the importance of clear and concise verbal instructions. The Minefield activity underscores how vital effective verbal communication can be in navigating real-life challenges and fostering trust among team members.

Moreover, I am drawn to the activity’s focus on problem-solving and dealing with obstacles under pressure. Participants must think critically and work together to find the best path through the minefield, which directly translates to tackling complex tasks in professional or academic settings.

Lastly, the Minefield icebreaker encourages reflection on individual experiences and group dynamics. This self-awareness is essential for continuous growth and development, both personally and professionally. By asking thought-provoking questions during the debrief session, facilitators prompt participants to consider how they can apply the principles learned during this activity in their everyday lives, further solidifying the impact of the experience.

Overall, I believe that the Minefield icebreaker is an engaging and valuable tool for fostering teamwork and communication skills among diverse groups. Its unique setup, rules, and debriefing questions create an immersive experience that not only breaks the ice but also lays a foundation for stronger relationships and more effective collaboration in any setting.

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Tips for making Minefield more inclusive

  • Tip: Consider accommodations for visually impaired participants. If one or more participants have visual impairments, you can adapt the game by having them act as navigators while their partner, who may also be visually impaired, acts as the walker. This way, they can still participate and contribute to the team-building experience.
  • Tip: Use culturally sensitive objects for mines. Instead of using cones or balloons that might have cultural connotations, choose more universally acceptable items like small stuffed animals or bean bags. This will make all participants feel comfortable participating in the activity.
  • Tip: Offer gender-neutral language choices. Encourage participants to use gender-neutral terms when referring to their partners during the game. For example, instead of saying “he” or “she,” they could say “they” or use their partner’s name. This creates an inclusive environment for everyone.
  • Tip: Consider mobility limitations. Offer alternative ways for participants with mobility issues to participate in the activity. They can act as navigators and provide verbal guidance to walkers who might not need blindfolds due to pre-existing visual impairments. You could also modify the minefield layout to make it more accessible.
  • Tip: Use clear, simple language. Encourage navigators to use straightforward language and avoid jargon or complex phrases that might confuse walkers. This ensures effective communication for all participants.
  • Tip: Emphasize respect and empathy. Encourage participants to treat each other with kindness and respect throughout the activity. By fostering a positive environment, everyone can feel included and engaged in the team-building experience.

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Reflection questions for Minefield

  1. How did you feel being the “walker” and having to rely solely on your partner’s instructions? This question helps participants reflect on their level of trust and vulnerability during the activity, which can translate to real-world situations where they must rely on others in uncertain conditions.

  2. What strategies did you use as a “navigator” to guide your partner effectively through the minefield? Understanding the communication techniques that worked well can provide insights into effective collaboration and leadership skills.

  3. What challenges did you face while navigating or giving instructions, and how did you overcome them? Exploring specific obstacles faced during the activity allows participants to think critically about problem-solving strategies and resilience in overcoming challenges.

  4. How can the principles of clear communication and collaboration learned from this activity apply to your everyday interactions or teamwork at school, work, or family? This question encourages participants to consider how they can translate their experiences into improved interpersonal relationships and teamwork abilities.

  5. What did you learn about yourself and your ability to follow instructions or give clear guidance under pressure? By reflecting on personal strengths and weaknesses, participants can become more self-aware and committed to continuous learning and growth.

  6. How might the experience of navigating the minefield change your approach when working with people who have different communication styles? This reflection question highlights the importance of adaptability and understanding in collaborative environments, promoting empathy and inclusivity among team members.

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About the author

Jon Zajac

Jon Zajac

Founder & Chief Icebreaker

I started Icebreaker Spot because I truly believe that strong connections are the foundation of successful teams. I wanted to create a platform that would make it easy for people to find and share icebreakers and team building activities, empowering them to build trust, foster collaboration, and ultimately, achieve greatness together.

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