Lost in the Wilderness!™ | Energiser | Training Activity

**FOR USE IN VIRTUAL & FACE-TO-FACE TRAINING SESSIONS** ​ ​A short starter activity to get team members interacting, solving a problem and making decisions under time pressure. *This activity is supplied digitally via the Northgate Trainerhub. No delivery charges apply.*

Learning Objectives

  • to discuss an issue under time pressure
  • to analyse a problem
  • to work together as a team
  • the usefulness of brainstorming
  • how to prioritise
  • the need for decisive leadership
  • to express their own ideas forcefully

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 on multiple licences to use with larger groups. Also includes access to the Northgate Trainerhub (see below for details).

  • Participants

    3-24 (up to six teams of 3-4 per team)

  • Timing

    30 - 40 minutes + debrief

  • Uses a computer?

    Not required

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    (normally next working day)


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  • World delivery

    (1-5 working days)



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The Activity

Each team receives a Brief. It tells them they are part of a team on a flight over Canadian territory en route to a fishing holiday in a remote location.

Their seaplane is fitted with amphibious floats and when the engine falters it crash lands in the wilderness killing the pilot. The plane points in the direction the pilot was flying and his last words were that they were 20 minutes flying time from the destination (so knowing their speed they can work out how far they are from their goal).

There are 15 items that have survived the plane crash. No food or water but some useful items that might help with survival. Teams do NOT rank these items but can use them in any plan they come up with.

Each team's objective is to plan a way forward. They have limited time - just 30 minutes! Should they stay with the plane? Striking off into the wilderness, especially as two of the team are slightly injured, without food and water, compass or map could be dangerous.

Teams must sum up the situation, list the options and decide on a plan. Good leadership and decisiveness required.

Trainer's Role

  • Explain the general nature of what is going to happen. (Do not go into detail or repeat what is on the Team Brief.)
  • Divide your group into teams (of 3-4 delegates per virtual team) and send them to virtual breakout rooms. Give a Team Brief to each team.
  • Write down the current time on a shared virtual message board or whiteboard or announce the time. Tell teams they have 30 minutes for the task (you may want to extend or shorten this by 10 minutes either side).
  • Visit the virtual breakout rooms in turn, and observe the teams at work. Note how their discussions progress, how they work as a team, whether they elect a leader or one emerges etc.
  • Give teams a one minute warning before you stop the activity. Then stop the activity at the deadline and bring your delegates out of their virtual breakout rooms and back into plenary session. (You may want to give extra time if they are behind schedule. It's up to you.)
  • Start the Debrief: ask each team to report back on how they approached the task, what options they considered and their final plans. Allow teams to quiz each other on their decisions.
  • Use the Trainer's Notes to raise points for discussion and use the (optional) Debrief PowerPoint to summarise points.
  • Finally, ask teams what they learned from the session about themselves and their teamwork. What lessons can they take away from the experience? Draw up a set of learning points that can be taken back to the workplace.

Full guidance is provided in the Trainer's Notes.

Pack Contents

  • Trainer's Notes (PDF)
  • Trainer's Debrief PowerPoint (PPT)
  • Team Brief (PDF)

This activity is supplied digitally via the Northgate Trainerhub. No delivery charges apply.

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
  • Option to send briefing information to team leaders digitally via the hub using Team Access Codes
  • Unlimited Trainer logins for all Trainers based at the licence-holding site

'Lost in the Wilderness!' is a great activity! A fast-moving pace in which the scenario quickly becomes a real situation in the way the delegates discuss options and look at the outcomes. It encourages them to discuss, make decisions, work together by listening and speaking, and thinking about the resources they have and how they can use them effectively.

L. James, BaseWales

I’ve used 'Lost in the Wilderness' a few times now and found it works well with lots of different teams, from teams that work together regularly to groups who may not know each other too well. It creates a great sense of fun and urgency all at the same time – highly recommended for a great team / leadership game.

Rachael McNidder, Leadership Development Coach, Pursuit Coaching & Development

We held the virtual activity 'Lost in the Wilderness!' today for 24 people and it went really well – lots of good discussion!

Allison Lochhead, Programme Co-ordinator, VolkerWessels UK

We used 'Lost in the Wilderness!' for a virtual team conference and it was a great energiser that everyone enjoyed. We've kept this in our L&D toolbox to use at future events in the coming months.

L&D Manager, Housing Sector

I've used 'Lost in the Wilderness!' virtually a number of times now with groups from lots of different backgrounds - from existing teams needing a refocus to new starters looking to form as a team during an induction. The supporting materials make the task clear and the guidance for the debrief is useful and helps structure that section well for the trainer. Definitely a fan - it goes down well!

People Development Manager, Financial Services Sector

We ran ‘Lost in the Wilderness! with the L&D team and they loved it. It was delivered virtually on Zoom so we used breakout rooms and were split into groups of 3 (I actually took part in the activity so can speak from my experience). It was good to see the different responses the group came back with and it brought the competitive side out in our team. So in a nutshell, we loved it, thought it was very good for team building, problem solving, creativeness and more and would definitely recommend it!

Christina Stachurski, Learning and Development Manager, Coventry Building Society

All good feedback coming in about ‘Lost in the Wilderness!’ which we ran virtually last week. The suggested time frame of 30 minutes felt a good amount of time, and then we allowed 30 minutes debrief for the group. We’ll certainly use it again.

Jenna Sadler, PA to Partners, Oxera

We used 'Lost in the Wilderness!' virtually and it worked GREAT. We had 4 teams of 6 plus an observer in each room, and we gave them 20 minutes in their breakout rooms and then brought them back to the larger group to present their approach, followed by the debrief. I’ve used a lot of experiential learning exercises in the past (in face-to-face training) and this virtual game worked equally well. The facilitator notes were really helpful.

Jacquie Stephens, Founding Partner and Executive Coach, neuroSHIFT

I loved the 'Lost in the Wilderness!' training activity. The participants were initially indifferent - they thought it was like their MBA game Lost at Sea, but once they realised that they had to come up with a plan and not a list, they were enthused. I am looking forward to using this again whenever I get the chance.

Anand Lobo, Founder and Chief Mentor, Epignosis

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