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On your marks

Design, build and dive into this diverse obstacle course for the daring!
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Pens or pencils
  • A4 paper
  • Stopwatch or phone
  • Safety equipment (for example, crash mats)
  • Obstacle course materials (for example, cardboard and wood)
  • DIY supplies and tools

Before you begin

  • Get some extra adult helpers to assist with the running of this activity, which involves building structures and using DIY skills. It’ll be necessary to spread this activity out over several sessions (one for planning, one for building and one for the challenge).
  • Plan this session well in advance and assess any risks involved, using this guidance on risk assessments: 
  • Find a suitable outdoor or indoor space for the obstacle course.

Run the activity

  1. Everyone should get into teams of four or five. Explain that each team will be designing and building a section of a large obstacle course. All of the sections will be combined into one large course that everyone will then need to complete as quickly as possible.
  1. Give each group pens or pencils and paper to plan their section of the obstacle course. Remind each group to think about using normal equipment in unusual ways and to think about any hazards. Groups need to consider whether: their equipment is strong enough, their course is stable, their course has parts with sharp edges and their course is accessible. They should also think about what might happen if someone were to fall off.
  1. All designs need to be checked by the person leading the activity before they’re finished, to make sure they’re appropriate, safe and possible to build.
  2. Once plans are complete, the person leading the activity should find the resources and tools needed to build the course.
  3. Start the building stage. Gather all of the equipment and resources in the obstacle course area. Section off areas where each tool can be used. Double-check all the tools are in good working order and have the manufacturer’s guidelines available. Set out any necessary protective equipment for using tools (for example, goggles and gloves) and make sure there’s a helper supervising each tool zone when it’s being used.
  1. As the groups are building, remind them to refer to the plans they made. This will show them where things need to be adjusted so parts can be connected.
  2. Once the building stage is complete, carefully test parts of each build that might potentially be weaker or present a hazard. Make any necessary changes before linking the sections together to complete the course.
  3. Connect the sections together. You could have gaps between the sections if there’s space, where those taking on the challenge can walk, run, crawl or slide between obstacles.
  1. Test the course as a whole before anyone attempts it. Look out for sharp edges, weight-bearing areas and other hazards. Think about adjustments that could be made. Put crash-mats around areas where there are drops.
  2. Each group should explain to everyone how to approach and complete their section of the course. When everyone understands the challenge, they can line up to try it out!
  3. Teams can either complete the course together like a relay, with a different person taking over at intervals, or with each person completing the course one at a time and adding their times together. Individuals may also take on the course on their own, to see who can do the fastest time.

Reflection

Obstacle courses are a fun way to stay active. They’re proof that exercise doesn’t have to be all about running fast, competing and reaching goals. Have everyone vote for their favourite section of the course. Was that the part they finished quickest, or the part they found the most challenging? Why might it sometimes be more fun to overcome something difficult, than to finish something easy?

Safety

All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed.

Contact games and activities

Make sure everyone understands what contact is acceptable, and monitor contact throughout the activity.

Heavy and awkward objects

Don’t lift or move heavy or awkward items without help. Break them down into smaller parts if possible.

Poles and long objects

Be careful when moving poles or long items. Take care if the ends are sharp. Have appropriate supervision for this activity.

Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.