Antarctic Challenge™ | Teamwork & Leadership Training Activity

In this teamwork & planning training activity (for face-to-face classrooms) teams have to plan a complex project and present their findings in a way that will achieve results. Ideal for developing project planning and teamwork skills. Realistic, motivating, challenging!

Learning Objectives

  • learn to brainstorm to decide what information is required
  • break a project into bite size chunks
  • establish the key factors around which to base plans
  • to plan within given limits
  • to manage time and resources
  • to cooperate with others
  • to collect and interpret data and information
  • to review progress regularly
  • to make a persuasive presentation for funds

Five-Year Repeat Use Licence

This Northgate training activity comes with a five-year licence for repeat use with up to 24 participants per training session within the licence-holding organisation. Please ask for a discount for use with larger groups. Also includes access to the Northgate Trainerhub (see below for details).

  • Participants

    For 3-24 (up to four teams of 3-6 per team)

  • Timing

    3 - 4 hours + debrief

  • Uses a computer?

    Not required

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Delivery charges do not apply to digital products.

Access for digital products is via the Northgate Trainerhub (we will set you up with hub access within 24 (working) hours of your order & our working hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 5:30pm).

  • UK delivery

    (normally next working day)


  • Europe delivery

    (1-2 working days)


  • World delivery

    (1-5 working days)



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The Activity

Teams have a letter congratulating them on mounting an expedition to the South Pole. All the data they might need is held by the Trainer on a series of Datacards. This Databank is ‘open’ for 5 minutes at a time at 30 minute intervals.

Teams can access data by written request only and so start with a brainstorming session to identify what information they need. They gradually build up data (such as sledges, fuel costs, equipment costs and weather details etc.), plan a route and calculate the cost of their expedition. They then present to a group of ‘sponsors’ for the necessary funds.

A challenging team planning task that makes the training room look like Antarctic HQ full of charts, dates and lists.

This training activity now comes with short introductory and debrief videos. Play the Introductory video (lasting approx 5 mins) at the start to brief delegates on their task and then after the training game, play the Debrief video (lasting approx 7.5 mins) and when that is over, carry on with your own observations of how the activity went. Or simply use them to brief yourself on how to introduce and debrief the training activity with confidence.

We recommend this activity for use on a wide variety of courses including: teamwork training, project planning and leadership training.

Trainer's Role

1. Explain what the training activity is all about (with optional introductory video).

2. Divide the group into teams of 3-8. As there is a lot to do, you can have bigger teams than usual.

3. Issue the initial Letter to each team together with a data request slip. Explain that teams can have six questions and that the Databank opens in 20 minutes.

4. Stand by to receive data requests and issue those datacards that cover information teams have asked for.

5. Continue with at least three more data sessions where teams can collect information.

6. When teams are ready, ask them to prepare presentations to the sponsors.

7. Listen to presentations (sometimes senior managers play the part of the sponsors). Decide who to give the money to.

8. Conduct a Debrief (with optional Debrief Video) on the training activity and stress all the key learning points.

Trainer’s Notes give full guidance as well as the solution and all the costings plus additional notes.

Pack Contents

  • Trainer’s Notes
  • Trainer's PowerPoints
  • Introductory and Debrief Videos
  • Team Briefs
  • Data Request Forms
  • Antarctic Maps
  • Sets of 48 Datacards
  • Trainer’s Reference Sheet
  • Equipment Brochures
  • Fuel Planning Kits
  • Rulers
  • Handout: Decisions Reached
  • Sponsors' Questions

This activity is for face-to-face classroom use. It is supplied as a hard copy pack and the digital files are supplied via the Northgate Trainerhub.

Northgate Trainerhub

Benefits of the online Northgate Trainerhub include:

  • Easy-to-access resource library which stores all the digital files for the activity in one place
  • Immediate access to upgrades made to the activity over the five-year licence term
  • Access to an online Trainer Forum where you can post questions, share experiences & network with other Trainers
  • Access to free activities and icebreakers
  • Unlimited Trainer logins for all Trainers based at the licence-holding site

We used 'Antarctic Challenge' on an 'Introduction to Project Management Course' as a case study over three days with individuals with a mixed group of job roles and levels from Corporate Offices. We appreciate the level of detail and research behind the game. The best learning points included: do not assume anything, plan carefully, promote and market your project to gain buy-in. We love running this exercise because, as Trainers, it’s the sort of expedition we’d love to do!

Sonja McCoy, Method & Training Team, John Lewis & Partners

Used 'Antarctic Challenge' on a Team Development Day with IT teams. It was run competitively which made it quite exciting. The best learning points were planning, information-gathering and not giving up. Fun, challenging and interesting. We interspersed data card allocation with tasks which had to be completed in order to earn the info they required.

Stephanie Oerton, Soul Partnership

We use 'Antarctic Challenge' to allow course members to experience real issues of strategic planning in some depth, with little prior knowledge of the 'environment'. For the Trainer, the format is flexible and the powerful image of Antarctica creates a memorable connection to the learning.

I. Sasse, E.ON UK

We love Northgate Activities! We use Antarctic Challenge for teamwork assessment. It demonstrates what works and doesn't work in teamwork. It also highlights the importance of prioritising, not being blocked by your assumptions and organising your work.

Roland Alech, MNM Consulting

I completed a training on planning with Shell Brunei using 'Antarctic Challenge': the participants enjoyed the story and dived into the game with confidence. As a trainer I was impressed too. They took it really seriously and felt a great sense of achievement after completing it.

Hazel Sia, Certified Trainer, Comsolutions Sdn Bhd, Malaysia

'Antarctic Challenge' is great for practising working together as a team on complex projects. The last group I ran it with was a group of Management Associates and they loved - and hated - it at the same time! A tough challenge - it resulted in pitches to a senior leader panel and went down very well.

Sally Leonard, Solution Alchemist - Black Dog Consultants Ltd

'Antarctic Challenge' is a great training activity! I've used it for years with executive groups and really appreciate the realism and complexity they have to deal with.

Dan Eisenman, Executive Director, Equalus

If you're looking for an activity that facilitates teamwork, communication and problem-solving, then 'Antarctic Challenge' is the one for you! We used this training pack as part of our Early Career Professional Development Away Day to focus on developing all these skills. The pack has high quality materials and resources, which engaged our colleagues and supported them in completing the task. It tested communication and time management skills as all members of the team had to work together effectively in order to present a solution. Overall, a brilliant training pack- highly recommended!

Gayle Wallace, Graduate & Apprenticeship Manager, VIMA Group

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