Monuments

Enjoyment Factor: 7/10

Teamwork Rating: 8/10

Leadership Opportunity: 6/10

Age Range: 13+

Activity Time: 2 Hours

Set Up Time: 30 minutes

Equipment Requirements: High

Indoor/Outdoor

 

Monuments is another cardboard extravaganza created in the summer of 2013 by myself and Mish Hood searching for another activity that taps more into the intellectual and creative side than traditional team building activities. The premise is simple: teams have as much cardboard and duck tape as they might need and in a two hour time limit must create some kind of incredible physical structure. We toyed with the name for while, contrasting between World Wonders and Monuments as the idea originally came from the plan to build wonders of the world from cardboard. Monuments was the victor however as we realised that making an impressive physical structure has a much wider scope than just the Wonders of the World - With respect to the Ancient Egyptians a working ferris wheel is more impressive than a pyramid when made out of cardboard. 

What you need to know

This is an activity that gives best results when used with older groups. From the times that I have used it the groups were always at least 14 years old and even then it was probably best received by 15 and up. That is not to say that it is not appropriate for younger participants just that group leaders will have to be more heavily involved and it becomes more of an activity than a teamwork driven activity.

There are two ways to go about this activity. The first is to give full disclosure on the aims and structure of the activity well in advance to allow for a good planning session. The second is to have the teams to incorporate the time for planning into the build time so they have more of a time pressure. Each way has its merits and drawbacks and I typically leaned towards a spontaneous brainstorming session that a planning session within your build time encourages.

When it comes to the type of structure the teams create; that comes down to the guidelines set by the group leader. As I said before the original plan had been to create wonders of the world but this in practice became much more vague to the point of "make something impressive". This open scope for the activity does bring a number of benefits however, primarily it takes away many of the limitations imposed by stricter guidelines and allows you to be impressed by the imagination of different team members.

what you need

  • Cardboard! And lots of it.
    • Similarly for the Yacht race if you are lucky enough to be using this activity on a site that produces a lot of waste cardboard for recycling then I would very strongly encourage you to use that.
    • If you do not have access on site to large amounts of cardboard then all large supermarkets and hardware stores produce huge amounts that you an usually ask to take away for free.
    • Having excessively large amounts of cardboard encourages teams to think big!
  • Duck Tape.
    • High quality tape is more costly but allows for stronger structures which can then be made more impressive.
    • Teams were given two 50m roles and that was typically enough if encourage to use it properly.
  • String/Rope
    • Available string such as Bailor twine allows for a lot more options from an engineering point of view.
  • Decorating Supplies.
    • Optional but can really finish off a structure with a few simple decorations such as paint, coloured paper and props that can be scavenged outside like sand, grass, branches etc. 
  • Scissors/Craft knife.
    • Self explanatory.

running the game

This is an incredibly simple game to run as long as all of the preparation has been completed in advance. Having enough material on site allows for this game really to run itself. So much so that I always competed in the competition with a group of other admin staff against the other teams. Build time was always set at two hours but typically it was stretched a little (usually because our own overly ambitious project wouldn't be finished on time!). It is definitely worth stressing at the start that this is an activity to really accept what is practical and even possible within the time limit and then look to create something really impressive! At the end of the two hour build period there is the competition.

Competition

The competition is based on three categories:

  • Scale/size.
  • Engineering prowess
  • 'Wow' factor

These were the categories that I always used but really as the organiser you can impose any conditions or desired outcomes you wish. I always enjoyed giving credit for engineering aspects as it really got the teams into thinking of how to make more intricate and impressive designs. 

Favourite examples

These are all examples of structures that were made by teams at camp within a rough two hour period.

  • A fully working suspension bridge.
    • Measuring 18 feet long a bridge that was a legitimate suspension bridge: using twine to support the causeway.
  • The London Eye Replica.
    • An eight feet tall spinning replica of the London Eye.
  • A Taj Mahal Replica.
  • The Britsh Houses of Paliament.
    • Including Big Ben and the Embankment with traditional London double decker buses.
  • Finally the most ambitious of all a space ship.
    • Space ship with fuel tank and two thrusters.
    • It was not the prettiest but for investment in the engineering process it must be included.
    • Expired flares were strapped tot eh bottom of the thrusters and the whole contraption was hung from parachute cord over a tree limb so that it could 'take off' with flares providing the excitement.
 
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