43 command tasks and leadership activities to strengthen your cadet lesson plans

Command tasks are group exercises used by cadets and other groups to develop team skills including problem-solving, communication, and leadership. Having a bank of command tasks is a great way to keep your groups entertained while fostering valuable skills.

Head to Google and type in ‘command tasks for cadets’ and you’ll find hundreds of activities, ranging from quick group games to in-depth tasks requiring hours of effort. Sifting through all of these results is time-consuming and, let’s face it, sometimes it’s more helpful to read a hand-picked selection of command tasks and solutions.

In this blog post, we’ve pulled together 43 powerful activities for cadets. For each we’ve given instructions and information on group size, required equipment, and skills taught. Here’s what we’ll cover:

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We’ll start with a little bit of information about command tasks and their benefits, but to jump straight to the tasks you can click here

What are command tasks? 

Command tasks are group exercises used in cadet training and designed to encourage a wide range of team skills while being entertaining for cadets. They are used by leaders of cadets of all ages, and thanks to the expansive amount of command tasks available, they can be shaped to the specific needs and abilities of different groups.

Command tasks bring groups together and develop a wide set of team skills, such as:

  • Communication
  • Non-verbal communication
  • Cooperation
  • Leadership
  • Giving instructions
  • Problem-solving
  • Logic
  • Planning
  • Resource management

How do you lead a command task? 

The first step is to select a command task that fits the needs of your group, in terms of the skills it develops, the resources required, and the ability and group size it’s suited to.

Once you’ve identified a suitable task, clarify the instructions so that you can accurately explain to participants what they need to do. Part of running a command task effectively is letting the group collaborate and figure things out for themselves, so instructions don’t necessarily need to go into too much detail, but you need to be able to avoid confusion.

At the beginning of the task, gather the required equipment and get your participants together. Depending on the task you will brief everyone or just the team leaders. 

Once the relevant people are briefed, start the timer and begin the task. Your role is to supervise participants as they complete the task, ensuring everyone is working safely while also watching for aspects to feedback on. 

After the task is complete, additional value can be gained by feeding back. You can invite participants to feedback on their experience, either with or without leading questions, or you can provide your feedback first. Seeking feedback from participants is a great way to get them thinking about their learning, the skills practised, and how things could be done differently (hopefully better!) in the future.

To enshrine participants’ reflection you can follow a task with a similar but different one, allowing them to put their thoughts and feedback into practice. This should lead to lasting learning outcomes, increasing the value of the tasks.

Who are these activities useful for?

Activities like those included here support young people in exploring, understanding and developing a wide range of interpersonal and team skills that will help them in their futures, whether they pursue careers in the military or not. 

Our experiential learning kits are used by army cadets, air force cadets and sea cadets around the world, giving us a strong understanding of the types of activities that provide value to cadets and other groups. ACF lesson plans and those of other cadet units are greatly enhanced with the selection and deployment of the right command tasks.

Youth leadership activities and command tasks

In this section, we’ve pulled together 43 command tasks for cadets. We’ve seen each of these in action and they tend to get a positive response from participants while providing some real opportunities to practice, reflect on, and instil valuable team skills.

There is a lot of overlap between army command tasks and leadership activities for teens, meaning the majority of these activities function well outside of military settings, too.

For each command task we’ve given information about the group size, ability, required equipment, and skills promoted. This should help you to choose the task(s) that are best suited to your cadets. 

The list contains a mixture of indoor command tasks and outdoor activities, giving you a good bank to choose from whichever type of space you have to work with.

All hands on the pump

Group size: 6+

Ability: Any

Required equipment: A length of rope, long enough for everyone to hold at the same time

Skills promoted: Communication, non-verbal communication, planning

This task is simple: all cadets must hold onto the rope at all times. If anyone lets go, they’re out (or the whole team fails, depending on your rules). Once everyone is holding the rope their task is to tie a specified number of knots along the rope, and/or to tie the rope to specified objects.

Balance beam bridge

Group size: 3-8

Ability: Any

Required equipment: 4 tyres, a plank long enough for everyone to stand on, x objects where x is the number of cadets

Skills promoted: Communication, planning

Make two stacks of two tyres, and rest the plank across them to form a bridge. Stand cadets along the bridge and give each one an object. Make sure the objects are numbered, but that the numbers are hidden. The task is for cadets to arrange the objects in correct numerical order, but nobody may touch the ground for the duration of the task.

Once completed you can get the cadets to arrange the objects in reverse order, in a specified order, or any other variation required.

Birdseye words

Group size: Large, most likely 15+

Ability: Any

Required equipment: Cadets and somewhere high to view from

Skills promoted: Communication, leadership, collaboration, non-verbal communication

This is a great task: one person (either an elected leader or a supervising adult) needs to stand in the high location, and they must give the cadets below a word. The cadets then arrange themselves so that they spell the word when viewed from above.

There are many variations here: the lead cadet can give instructions, or the cadets below can be restricted to non-verbal communication. It all depends on what you’re trying to achieve.

To make this task easier or harder use shorter or longer words.

Blindfold height

Group size: Any

Ability: Any

Required equipment: Blindfolds

Skills promoted: Communication, leadership, collaboration, non-verbal communication

For this task, simply position participants around a room or open space, give each one a blindfold, then get them to arrange themselves into a straight line in order of height.

To make things more difficult you can make them complete the activity in silence.

Bomb disposal

Group size: 4-8

Ability: Any

Required equipment: 2 planks, 3 tyres, an object that fits inside a tyre, a length of rope

Skills promoted: Communication, collaboration, planning

Mark a line which cadets cannot cross. Then place one tyre with an object inside it about a foot further away from the line than a plank will reach – this object is the bomb. The cadets’ task is to use their 2 tyres and 2 planks to form a bridge so that they can reach into the no-go zone and retrieve the bomb. If any cadet touches the ground in the no-go zone they fail the task.

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Bucket challenge

Group size: 6-8

Ability: Any

Required equipment: Two buckets, three pieces of pipe, stakes or other markers, a tape measure

Skills promoted: Non-verbal communication, coordination, collaboration

Here, cadets must work together to fill a bucket on the ground with water that must be poured from the other bucket, from head height or higher.

One participant is the leader, and only they may give instructions. A second participant holds the water bucket and pours. The others must work together – silently – to guide the water down the pipes and into the other bucket.

You can make this harder or easier by altering the distance between the two buckets.

Build a bridge

Group size: Any

Ability: Any

Required equipment: A combination of planks, tyres, rope, boxes, stakes, and other suitable construction items

Skills promoted: Planning, communication, leadership

Find a natural stream or mark out a pretend one if none is available. Cadets must use their construction materials to build a freestanding bridge at least two feet above the water’s surface. While this sounds simple, agreeing on a design and coordinating the build will test the cadets’ ability to plan and communicate.

To make this task harder you can provide fewer construction materials then instruct the cadets to find supplementary materials in the outdoor area where the task takes place.

Build a tower 

Group size: Any

Ability: Any

Required equipment: MTa Team Kit or similar activity kit

Skills promoted: Logic, communication

This task is simple: teams just need to build a freestanding tower with the equipment available. The tallest freestanding tower wins.


Group size: 6+

Ability: Any

Required equipment: Two buckets

Skills promoted: Communication, non-verbal communication

Place two buckets far enough apart that the line of cadets fits between them with about a foot of space between each person. Fill the bucket at the back of the line with water. Cadets must move the full bucket forwards and transfer all water to the front bucket. The catch? They can only use their feet.

Crocodile jaws

Group size: 4-8

Ability: Any

Required equipment: 2 benches, 1 plank per cadet (long enough to span the widest section, see below)

Skills promoted: Communication, leadership

Position the benches next to each other so that they are touching, then open one end out so they form an open triangle. This is the crocodile’s jaws.

Cadets start at the narrow end and must make their way to the other end to escape the jaws. They must not touch the ground, and can only stand on the planks (not the sections of the plank that rest on the benches). By laying planks and coordinating movement, each cadet must escape within the time limit. After this time elapses the crocodile wakes up and eats them.

If anyone touches the floor or the section of plank resting on a bench, the whole group must start again.

Crossing the void

Group size: 2+

Ability: Any

Required equipment: Rope, a sack, a carabiner

Skills promoted: Leadership, planning, logic, communication

This is a great task, very simple. All cadets need to do is get a sack from one side of a gap to another using the rope and by working together as a team.

You can play this indoors or outdoors, and the gap can be between walls of a room, in an alleyway between two buildings, or pretty much anywhere else.

This can be made more challenging by giving fewer instructions, and by loading items into the sack to make it heavier.

Danger circle

Group size: 2+

Ability: Intermediate+

Required equipment: Three lengths of rope, two traffic cones, a ball, a mat

Skills promoted: Communication, collaboration, planning, logic

Two cones are placed in a large circle of rope on the ground, one with a ball on top. Cadets must then work together to lift the cones out of the circle and onto a nearby mat. However, they can only lift by twisting the other two lengths of rope and using the resulting tension to hold the top of the cone.

This activity can be made more difficult by blindfolding the lifting cadets and having a third giving verbal instructions, or by lengthening the rope, or expanding the diameter of the circle the cones must be lifted from.

Descriptive power

Group size: Any

Ability: Any

Required equipment: Blindfolds, and pairs of any item 

Skills promoted: Communication

First, sit all of your cadets in a big circle, then ask each one to put on a blindfold. Hand out items around the circle, making sure that matching items are given to cadets sitting far apart. Once items have been handed out, cadets must describe their item and attempt to find the person with its pair. Once they’ve found each other, pairs must sit down: quickest win.

If you’re working with younger cadets you can make this task a bit easier by showing everyone the items before starting. 

Drainpipe challenge

Group size: 4+

Ability: Any

Required equipment: Lengths of drainpipe, balls small enough to roll down it

Skills promoted: Communication, giving instructions

Mark a start point and an endpoint, then get teams of cadets to transport balls from start to finish using only the lengths of the drainpipe. Aside from putting balls in the first length of the drainpipe at the start, cadets may not touch them.

When the ball is moving along one cadet’s piece of drainpipe, they may not move. The task relies on good communication within teams, and good planning to ensure that the ball can be moved effectively. If a ball falls on the floor they must start again.

Erect a tent

Group size: Any

Ability: Any

Required equipment: A tent

Skills promoted: Communication, planning, leadership, non-verbal communication

This task is a great one to use if you’re camping but can be used at any time. The task itself is simple: groups of cadets must correctly erect a tent in the quickest time possible. Different twists can be put on this base task to make things more interesting and promote different skills:

  • Enforce a time limit to encourage more efficient planning
  • Nominate one leader as the only person who can give instructions to promote leadership
  • Tie pairs of cadets’ legs together to promote coordination
  • Make cadets complete the task in silence to promote non-verbal communication

Flag challenge

Group size: Any

Ability: Intermediate

Required equipment: Stakes, poles, a piece of fabric, ropes

Skills promoted: Logic, communication

Note that this task requires a good knowledge of knots.

Cadets must construct a freestanding mast from which the piece of fabric can be flown as a flag. The flag must be a minimum of five metres from the ground, or to make the task easier you can reduce this height.

Flock of sheep

Group size: Any, larger is best

Ability: Intermediate

Required equipment: Rope or tape to mark off an area, a whistle

Skills promoted: Non-verbal communication, planning

One cadet is nominated to be the shepherd, and the rest are sheep. The sheep are scattered around a large space, then blindfolded. The shepherd must stand in a small circle and get all of the sheep into their pen, which is a space marked off with rope or tape. They may only use the whistle, and no cadets may talk to each other for the duration of the task.

Before scattering the cadets, explain the rules and give them ten minutes to plan their strategy. The quickest team to get all the sheep in the pen wins.

Follow the leader

Group size: 4+

Ability: Any

Required equipment: A long length of rope, blindfolds

Skills promoted: Leadership, communication, non-verbal communication

Use the rope to mark out a long course that goes around, below, and over obstacles. Nominate one cadet as the leader, and then blindfold everyone. All cadets must have one hand on the rope and their other hand on the shoulder of the person in front at all times. The leader goes to the front and escorts the group through the obstacle course.

This task can be made more difficult by adding more obstacles or preventing anyone from speaking.

Hurricane relief

Group size: 4+

Ability: Intermediate

Required equipment: MTa Insights Kit

Skills promoted: Planning, cooperation, communication, leadership 

In this task teams of cadets must each build an item to assist with a hurricane relief effort. Set the scene by describing the situation, outlining the urgency required to get people to safety as quickly as possible. 

Using the MTa Insights Kit, get teams of cadets to build items like a stretcher, a communications tower, a water distribution station, and any other items that may be useful in a hurricane relief scenario. To expand the task you can first do a brainstorming session with cadets to get an idea of the type of items they think would be useful.

Once the time is up, judge each team based on the suitability of their model and the process they used to get there.

Improvised stretcher

Group size: 4+

Ability: Any

Required equipment: Anything!

Skills promoted: Planning, communication

This task is simple: cadets must build a stretcher out of whichever building materials they’re given. The stretcher must be functional, and strong enough to carry a person a specified distance (longer distance = higher difficulty).

To add an element of competition, teams can race against each other: fastest to complete the entire task wins, or fastest to complete the carrying section of the task once all teams have finished their stretchers.

Jack in the box

Group size: Any

Ability: Any

Required equipment: 4 tyres, a large bottle of water, lengths of rope

Skills promoted: Communication, logic

Stack the four tyres and place the bottle of water in the centre. Mark of a circular area with the tyres in the centre: the cadets may not enter this area, nor may any equipment touch the floor. 

Cadets must retrieve the bottle of water within the time limit. Each cadet or piece of equipment that touches the floor incurs a 30-second penalty.

Lava river

Group size: 3-6

Ability: Any

Required equipment: Tape, 3 planks

Skills promoted: Planning, communication, leadership

Use the tape to mark two straight, parallel lines that are about 5 times as far apart from each other as the length of the planks. The space between the tape is a river of lava, and if any cadet touches the lava they are out. Each plank is a piece of metal that can withstand the temperature of the lava, and support part of a person’s weight.

Cadets must all cross from one side of the river to the other. Only one foot may be on any plank at a given time. Cadets may stand with each of their feet on two separate planks. If any plank has two or more feet on it, it sinks and those cadets fall into the lava.

You can nominate a leader to give instructions if you are promoting leadership.

Lego challenge

Group size: 2+, ideally 4+

Ability: Intermediate+

Required equipment: Enough Lego to build at least 3 versions of the same model

Skills promoted: Communication, leadership, observation

Build a Lego model and keep it out of sight of participants. Nominate a leader for each team. Allow the leaders to view the completed model for a couple of minutes, but don’t let them write or draw anything. They must then relay instructions to another member of their team, who acts as the relay. This person must brief the rest of the team, who must then do their best to replicate the model.

Depending on the ability level of your group you can allow repeat visits to see the original model, or get the leader to brief the team directly, removing the middle link.

More in-depth instructions for this task can be found here.

Lost in space

Group size: 4+

Ability: Intermediate

Required equipment: 80ft length of rope, blindfolds, 4-6 items, 4 cones

Skills promoted: Communication, leadership, cooperation

Your cadets were in a spaceship that has crash-landed on the surface of an unknown planet. The local star is too bright for human eyes, so blindfolds must be worn. A mobile safe area is cordoned off with rope, but cadets must work together to move it. Anyone outside the safe area will be harmed by solar radiation.

Across the surface of the planet, various items have been scattered. Cadets must work together to collect all the items by moving the safety cordon and keeping the rope taut at all times. Any slack in the rope means that the cordon is no longer sheltering them from radiation: too long with slacks and they fail the task.

This task can be made even harder by nominating one cadet who’s allowed to pick up items, or by preventing the team from talking.

Magic carpet

Group size: 2+

Ability: Any

Required equipment: Something flat, foldable, and big enough for the whole team to stand on

Skills promoted: Cooperation, communication

This is a nice, simple task, ideal for a quick activity. Each team is given a ‘magic carpet’ (could be a towel, a bin bag, anything big enough for all team members to stand on at the same time). The task is to turn the magic carpet over without anybody stepping onto the floor – the quickest team wins!


Group size: Any

Ability: Any

Required equipment: None

Skills promoted: Planning, cooperation, communication

Each member of the team must be carried to the other side, except for the last person. If someone helps carry someone across, they must then return to the other side. Only the last person may walk across.

This task rewards teams who stop to think before jumping in, and teaches the value of planning.


Group size: 4+

Ability: Intermediate

Required equipment: Blindfolds, small objects that make noise when knocked

Skills promoted: Leadership, non-verbal communication

Set out the noisy items on the floor: these obstacles will be the mines. One member of the team must guide the rest through the minefield, with one condition: all the others are blindfolded.

The leader may not speak, and the other cadets must form a chain with each having their two hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. Any time a ‘mine’ is knocked, a 30 second time penalty is given. The quickest team (after penalties are calculated) wins.

Mini bridges

Group size: 2+

Ability: Intermediate

Required equipment: Scrap paper like newspaper, sellotape, scissors, something heavy (coins, bags of flour, etc)

Skills promoted: Cooperation, planning, resource management

This is a great command task with minimal equipment, as all of the items can be sourced fairly easily. 

Teams must build a bridge that can support the weight. You can stipulate how high and long the bridge must be at the outset, but a minimum of 15cm high and 30cm long is recommended. Extend these dimensions to make the task harder.

Issue resources to each team at the start of the task and explain that they won’t get any more: part of the task is planning ahead and not just rushing in.

Increasing or reducing the number of resources given is a good way to adjust the difficulty of the challenge.

Noah’s ark

Group size: Any

Ability: Any

Required equipment: Blindfolds

Skills promoted: Teamwork, non-verbal communication

This task is similar to Blindfold Height in that participants have to complete their task blindfolded, and order must emerge from an initially dispersed group.

Split the group into pairs (with one three if you have an odd number), and assign each pair an animal. Then blindfold everyone and scatter your participants around the room or outdoor space, before having them reunite with their partner animal using nothing but animal impressions.

Pin the tail on the donkey

Group size: 3+

Ability: Any

Required equipment: A paper donkey, a paper tail with a pin, blu tac, string, long sturdy items like broom handles or sticks

Skills promoted: Communication, planning

This is a fun twist on the old party classic. Instead of pinning the tail on the donkey from up close while blindfolded, cadets must pin the tail from a distance. Mark a no-man’s land between the donkey and the cadets, a couple of metres or so with longer distances used to make the task more difficult. 

Cadets must build a contraption and use it to attach the pin without entering no-man’s land. Disqualify or penalise any teams who enter, and the quickest team overall wins.

Protect the egg

Group size: 3+

Ability: Any

Required equipment: Eggs, stationery supplies

Skills promoted: Communication, teamwork, planning

This task is simple: cadets must make the best protective casing for their egg in the given time out of stationery supplies like newspaper, tape, and elastic bands. You can give other materials, too: balloons and bubble wrap for example. And to make the task more tricky you can limit the amount of tape or newspaper allowed.

Once the time is up tell your teams to stop building, then drop all of the eggs from the same height. Repeat this process with gradually increasing heights until only one egg remains unbroken (you can also throw the eggs if you’re not able to drop them from a great height, however, it may be difficult to stay accurate and fair).

Quick flip twister

Group size: 4+

Ability: Any

Required equipment: A large sheet

Skills promoted: Leadership, giving instructions, communication

Layout a large sheet flat on the floor. Nominate a leader (or ask for volunteers), and only brief them with the instructions of the task. They must then relay instructions to the team.

The task is simple: all team members must stand on the sheet at all times, and the team must fold the sheet in half as many times as possible. The team that manages the most folds in the time limit wins.

If any cadet touches the ground at any time their team is penalised or disqualified.

Rod’s troubles

Group size: Any

Ability: Any

Required equipment: Six lengths of tubing, wood, or similar (a material that can stand upright)

Skills promoted: Logic, communication, lateral thinking

The goal of this task is to create four equilateral triangles from six rods: possible, but it’s not initially obvious how. The solution is to create one triangle on the ground then use the remaining three rods to create a triangular-based pyramid, but it will most likely take participants a while to realise they can work in 3D.

Depending on the size and ability of the group you can run this as one big group, or splinter out into smaller groups. To create a bit of competition amongst multiple groups you can make it a race.

If your cadets are struggling, give them a hint that they’re not limited to 2D designs.

Scavenger hunt

Group size: Any

Ability: Intermediate

Required equipment: None

Skills promoted: Communication, delegation, giving instructions, coordination, planning

This is a twist on the usual scavenger hunt: instead of hunting for a specific hidden item, cadet teams are tasked with finding one item for each letter of the alphabet. This is the only instruction that should be given, as figuring out the best way to organise themselves is one of the most valuable aspects of the task.

Some groups will sprint into action without making any plans and will quickly realise that this leads to duplicated letters and wasted time. Allow this to happen, only intervening if strictly necessary.

To make this task easier you can remove difficult letters. 

Sculpture shift

Group size: 4+

Ability: Intermediate

Required equipment: Cones, chairs, flags, drainpipes and other kit; wooden planks; tape

Skills promoted: Coordination, communication, attention to detail, giving instructions

Mark two circles on the ground, with a decent-sized gap between them.

The first step is for the instructor to build a ‘sculpture’ in one circle by stacking equipment. Try to make it complicated, as the task involves dismantling, moving, and recreating the sculpture as closely to the original design as possible. Take photos from various angles so you have a reference point for comparisons.

Once the sculpture is built, task cadets with moving the sculpture into the other circle. They may only move – themselves and equipment – on the planks provided. Points are awarded once time runs out based on how faithfully the sculpture was reproduced, and how well teams worked together.

Silent pairs

Group size: Any

Ability: Any

Required equipment: A deck of cards, or many pairs of images printed on paper

Skills promoted: Non-verbal communication

This is a variation on the card game ‘Pairs’. Layout all the cards or images face down, then cadets must silently complete the game. Cadets take turns to turn over two cards, and any matching pairs are removed. Non-matching pairs are turned back over, and the next person takes their go. The game ends when all pairs are removed.

This activity encourages non-verbal communication but also rewards speed.

Spider web

Group size: 4-10

Ability: Intermediate

Required equipment: Rope

Skills promoted: Communication, planning

Find two trees or other things you can tie a rope to. Tie lots of lines of rope between them so that they crisscross and make holes of different sizes. All cadets must get from one side of the resulting ‘spider web’ to the other, but none may touch any rope and no two cadets may use the same hole.

This task encourages planning as a team to make sure everyone will be able to get through, and physically helping each other.

Splish splash

Group size: 2+

Ability: Any

Required equipment: Two large containers, lots of small items and containers

Skills promoted: Communication

Fill one large container with water. Place the other large container a good distance away. Cadets must use the small items they’re given and other items they can find to transfer as much water from the full container to the empty one. Winners are decided by some combination of most water transferred and least water spilt.

Team Ski

Group size: 3-6

Ability: Any

Required equipment: A piece of wood (optional), some rope

Skills promoted: Coordination, communication, giving instructions

This is a fun physical challenge, the exact rules of which are left up to you to decide. To get your participants into the Team Ski position, you have two options:

  • Make them stand with their right feet on one plank and left feet on another, then tie enough sections of rope around each plank that each participant can hold the other end in their hand.
  • Tie a length of rope so that it goes around each participants’ right leg, and do the same for their left legs.

With all of their legs connected, either by rope or via the plank they’re standing on, participants will be required to work together just to cover the distance. You can then task them with completing a race against other teams, a time trial, an obstacle course, or any activity that requires movement.

The square

Group size: Multiples of 4

Ability: Any

Required equipment: Blindfolds, a long rope

Skills promoted: Coordination, communication, giving instructions, leadership

Make a large loop from the rope by tying the ends together, then blindfold the cadets and cadets them with making the best square possible. Two cadets should be in each corner. Award points for speed and the most accurate square.

This task can be repeated with different shapes, although group sizes may need to be rejigged.

Tower of Hanoi

Group size: 2+

Ability: Intermediate

Required equipment: Five rings increasing in size or, if they’re the same size, numbered 1-5; three posts

Skills promoted: Logic, communication, planning

This task is based on a famous logic puzzle. All rings start on the leftmost post, with the smallest (or lowest number) at the top. Participants must move all rings across to the rightmost post, and they must end up in the same order. However, only one ring can be moved at a time, and no ring can be placed on top of a smaller (or lower-numbered) one.

You can make this task easier / harder by using fewer / more rings.

Toxic waste

Group size: 4+

Ability: Intermediate

Required equipment: A length of rope per participant, a small container, a bigger box, cones

Skills promoted: Communication, giving instructions, planning

Firstly mark a no-go area with the cones: cadets are not allowed to enter this area. Place the small container in the centre of the no-go area, then brief cadets that their task is to get the small box from this area into the bigger box.

To add an element of drama you can explain that the small box contains toxic waste and that the no-go zone is full of dangerous radiation. Cadets are tasked with safely moving the toxic waste to the decontamination area (big box). Anyone who enters the no-go zone (even if they lean into it) is contaminated and removed from the task.

What’s in the box?

Group size: Any

Ability: Any

Required equipment: 20 assorted items, a box

Skills promoted: Concentration, observation

This is a simple task but all the better for it. All you need to do is tip 20 items out of a box onto the ground, and give teams 3 minutes to look at them before returning everything to the box. Then after a 5-minute distraction (another activity, reading an excerpt from a book, etc), they are asked to recall as many items as possible. The team with the best recall wins.

The task can be made easier / harder by using fewer / more items, or by spreading the items further apart.

Things to consider when running command tasks

Across the tasks outlined above, you’ll be able to see that there is space for flexibility and interpretation. The rules and boundaries can be adjusted as needed and depending on the ability of the group you can tighten or loosen certain guidelines and restrictions.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing and introducing tasks:

  • Will a leader be nominated or will participants be able to decide between them?
  • Who gets briefed? Just the leader, or the whole team?
  • Will you add any additional rules to make things more difficult? 
  • Will there be a time limit?
  • Will there be any penalties for breaking the rules or going over time?


Cadet training can be greatly enhanced with a strategic approach to command tasks. Leadership activities for teens are a great starting point when putting together plans for lessons and sessions, and with such a wide range of activities available, there’s something to suit every group type and ability.

The command tasks above range from command tasks with no equipment through to those requiring very specific gear. Depending on your needs and the nature of your group, you may be able to make do with the equipment you have available. But if you’re planning to take your cadet lesson plans to the next level, why not take a look at our experiential learning kits – each of which contains a suite of activities designed to encourage the development of fundamental team skills:

  • MTa Insights: The ultimate trainer’s resource with 53 high impact experiential activities for everyone from entry-level and upward.
  • MTa Team Kit: 16 activities that encourage and support participants to explore, understand and develop a wide range of interpersonal and team skills.
  • MTa STEM Kit: 24 fun and thought-provoking activities for young people, centred around STEM competencies (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

If you’d like to discuss which kit would best fit your needs, get in touch with our team. We’ll be happy to help.