Stranded On A Desert Island: The Ultimate Team-Building Exercise

Equal parts fun and practical.

The term desert island activity might seem challenging but the essence is simple: it’s effective.

Free training icebreakers are, of course, something we all use for online teaching but its always important to know exactly what you need to do.

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The desert island activity is a popular team-building exercise used in workshops.

Although we may think that it’s just a bit of fun but the purpose of this activity is to improve teamwork, problem-solving, and communication skills.

It requires participants to imagine they are stranded on a desert island and must choose items that are most crucial for survival.

Where to begin: desert island choices, and ice-cream islands.


Because the steps involved are so important we want to show you exactly how to complete this desert island activity:

  • The facilitator divides participants into small groups of 4-6 people.
  • Each group is given a list of 10-15 items such as food, water, tools, etc.
  • The group must discuss and agree on choosing 5-7 items that are most essential for survival on the desert island.
  • Groups take turns presenting the items they selected and explaining why they chose those specific items.

Cost and Resources

When you make the effort to use this icebreaker, this activity requires minimal resources.

According to experts, the facilitator only needs to prepare the list of items for each group.

Adopting this approach means there is no cost involved meaning you should not feel overwhelmed when using this icebreaker game.

Time Required

30-45 minutes is needed for the full activity including discussion, selection, and debrief.

Number of Participants

An instant and accessible solution that is ideal for group sizes of 4-6 people. Total participants can range from 12-30 people.

Best Suited For

The desert island activity works well for any team as an icebreaker or deeper team-building exercise. It’s best for colleagues who work together directly.

Facilitator’s Role

The facilitator divides people into groups, distributes the item lists, times the activity, and leads the debrief discussion.

Participants’ Role

If your not familiar with this activity, its essential to get acquainted with the role of participants. The role of participants is instrumental and their role is to discuss which items are most crucial for survival and work together to select the agreed upon items for their list.

Debrief Questions

The role of debriefing has been spotlighted recently. We recommend that after the activity, the facilitator debriefs using these reflection questions:

  • What was challenging or easy about choosing the items?
  • How did your group approach decision making?
  • What strategies helped your teamwork? What could you improve?
  • How does this relate to collaboration at work?


Icebreakers may be all the rage lately but don’t forget to keep a close eye on the prize. According to our research the desert island activity teaches important skills like critical thinking, teamwork, and communication.

Here’s why the desert island activity may be just what you need.

The desert island activity provides a fun and engaging way to improve collaboration that can be applied to real work situations. We hear this from customers that have ordered our full set of courses.

With thoughtful debriefing, it’s an impactful team-building experience.

Learn more about how to use training games.