Are you a youth leader?

Have you spent hours planning the perfect social event for your teens? Have you put in days’ worth of work developing lessons that deliver the perfect breakthrough message? Have you ever planned events or meetings in hopes of building trust between teenagers in your charge? Do you listen to top 40 stations just to find ways to connect with the kids?

Have you done all this just to watch the kids slowly disappear behind phone screens, homework, or blank stares? It’s one of the most frustrating outcomes of those endeavors.

We have an idea – spend more time playing. We don’t mean playing just another silly game. We mean play with purpose. Play with the purpose of building bonds and communication between those bored teenagers.


Here are 3 suggestions from our experts.

1. Mousetrap Suspension Bridge

How it Works:

The goal of this game is to build a bridge with mousetraps. Loaded mousetraps. (Disclaimer: we don’t suggest using rat traps. Use the smaller, less dangerous mouse traps.)

Each group must build a bridge the length of an 8 ½ “ by 11” piece of paper (the 11” side) using six loaded mouse traps. The bridge must span the paper without anyone or anything other than the traps holding themselves up.

The Key:

  • Planning

Since every member MUST participate, the team needs to develop a plan of attack that every member can help execute.  And since the traps are set, members must be able to move with confidence.

One false move and… SNAP!


2. Duct Tape Printer

How it Works:

The goal of this game is to draw a smiley face. That’s it. But the setup is slightly more complicated than the last game. Let’s list the steps.

  1. Set up: Take some duct tape and draw a circle about ten feet in diameter. Place a poster board or flip chart in the middle of the circle (one setup per team playing). Give each team a roll of duct tape and a marker.
  2. Objective: To get the group to work together and draw a picture or a word on the poster board using only a marker and duct tape.
  3. Draw a picture of a smiley face within ten minutes on the poster board using the marker.
  4. The face, eyes and mouth are the basics that must be drawn within the ten minutes.
  5. Any additional features on the face like hair, nose, ears, hats or jewelry are bonus points. 25 points awarded for each additional feature.
  6. No one is allowed inside the duct tape circle. Fingers and hands are not allowed to cross the barrier of the circle.
  7. No one can move the poster board from the middle of the circle. You may not remove the circle from the floor. No creative cheating, please.
  8. Using the roll of duct tape and the marker, fashion a device that will allow you to suspend the marker into the circle, MacGyver style, and draw your smiley face.
  9. Everyone must participate in the drawing and building.

The Key

  • Collaboration

The last game simply required a plan – this game takes collaboration. Building trust between teenagers requires more than just communication. Teammates need to work with each other to move in sync to each other to produce the perfect smile! 


3. Duct Tape Trolley Race

How it Works

This game is more tactile than the last two, and requires better teamwork. Here are the rules:

  1. Set up: Put down a starting line and a cone or object to go around. Give each

group a roll of duct tape.

  1. Build a set of trolley walkers out of duct tape strong enough for your entire group

to march in unison around the cone and back to the starting line.

  1. If the trolley breaks while marching, your group will have to stop and fix before


  1. You are going for the fastest time possible. Multiple attempts are okay.

The Key

  • Coordination

Teams need a plan; they need to collaborate in the moment, and they also need to coordinate their movements. If communication breaks down, someone is falling.

This game is probably one of the most fun to watch, too.

The Wrap Up

Those are three DIY activities for building trust between teenagers that we HIGHLY recommend. These games put groups of teenagers in close quarters and give them difficult tasks to solve through coordination.

In other words, these games help teenagers communicate with each other and coordinate plans with each other. They also build other helpful soft skills by interacting in these ways.

If you’re interested in communicative games like these and want to push teens to engage, check out one of our workshops! These workshops not only provide a great environment for youth leaders to come together, they also share new games and several invaluable principles on what makes a game great.

For more advice or game ideas, check out our Top 5 Quick Team Building Activities!