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Lost at Sea

Maggie Zou, Times Staff

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Props/Prep: Yes

Time: 25-45 min

Audience: Any (teams)

Physical: No


Activity: This exercise can be used in many different settings and training programs. It is designed to work mainly to develop team building, cooperation, and leadership. A great activity to do with newly formed groups to ‘break the ice’, or to use with groups having functional problems to help identify assumed roles.

Materials needed: Lost at Sea scenario sheet per person


Participants should divide into teams of 5. Hand out one scenario sheet with 14 items listed, to each participant. Give 10 minutes to individually rank the 14 items.

Team members should then confer for an additional 10 minutes and decide on the team’s priority ranking each of the 14 items. Have the team re-rank item on one sheet of paper.

Team members should then compare their individual rankings with those determined by the group as a whole, and discuss why the scores differ, if applicable. Or, if individuals would re-rank items based on the group discussion, what changed their minds? How were they influenced by the group?


Scenario: You and your team have chartered a yacht. None of you have any previous sailing experience, so you have hired an experienced skipper and a two-person crew. As you sail through the Southern Pacific Ocean, a fire breaks out and much of the yacht and its contents are destroyed. The yacht is slowly sinking. Your location is unclear because vital navigational and radio equipment have been damaged. The yacht skipper and crew have been lost to the fire. Your best guess is that you are approximately 1,000 miles southwest of the nearest landfall.

You and your friends have managed to save the following 14 items:Lost at Sea


  1.     A shaving mirror
  2.     A quantity of mosquito netting
  3.     A 19 liter can of water
  4.     A case of army rations
  5.     Maps of the Pacific Ocean
  6.     A floating seat cushion
  7.     A 7.5 liter can of oil / petroleum mixture
  8.     A small transistor radio
  9.     186 square decimeters of Opaque plastic sheeting
  10.    Shark repellent
  11.    1.1 liters of 160 per cent proof rum
  12.    4.5 meters of nylon rope


  1.  2 boxes of chocolate bars
  2.  A fishing kit

In addition to the above, you have salvaged a rubber life raft. The total contents of your team’s pants pockets amounts to one package of cigarettes, three boxes of matches, and three pieces of paper currency.



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Lost at Sea