January 20, 2018

Fox & the Hound – A Sure-Fire Icebreaker


This activity is very high energy and is great to do when you want to get people up and moving. Make sure you have enough room so it can stay safe. I’ve facilitated this activity with eight people all the way to 800 with great success.

To start the ice breaker off you’ll need to get people in to groups of exactly four. This can work with five but it’s just not quite the same. To get started, I might say something like this:

“When I say go and the music comes on, you’ll form a group of exactly four – no more and no less. Preferably with people you don’t know. When you get this group of four, stand in a circle and get to know as much about each other as you can while the music is still going. Ready, Go.”

Once they’ve formed groups and have had a few minutes to exchanges some greetings, I’ll stop the music get everyone’s attention and continue:

“Please pause and everyone turn this way. The name of this activity is called, ‘Fox and the Hound’. The person in the group who has the biggest feet, raise your hand. (pause) If you can’t figure it out, just pick someone.

Give them a couple moments so every group can get a hand up:

“If you are raising your hand, you are now officially the hound dog. Hound dogs, let me hear you howl!”

They should respond with a howl (if they don’t howl loud enough you might want to give them some creative encouragement).

“Hound dogs, take two steps away from your group. (pause) Hound dogs, go ahead and choose one person in your group. Just choose one person. (pause) Now look at that person and say to them, ‘You are the fox.’”

That will get a lot of laughter.

“Foxes, let me hear your fox sounds!”

You’ll get silence usually, and then even more laughter. (What DOES a fox sound like anyway?)

Have everyone take a seat and face towards you. Then grab three people from a group in front of you to be volunteers and get them to stand up with you. I usually don’t prepare these volunteers but you can if you’d like.

Preferably get a group with at least 2 males. You are about to ask that group to model the game and they are going to be holding hands. If they see two guys holding hands it will make it easier for the groups who have men in them to hold hands when everyone starts playing.

“So, let’s say I’m the hound dog and you [point to one of the three volunteers] are the fox. My job as the hound dog is to tag the fox. Not tackle the fox, or eat the fox, or chase the fox up a tree. [laugher, you hope], but just to tag the fox. The fox’s job is to stay away from the hound dog.”

“What are foxes known for being? Right- smart, cleaver, sly… And the fox is going to use the resources he as around him. So the fox will connect hands with the other two, forming a circle. When I try to tag the fox I might reach over like this and they will hold their hands out to bar my way. [You’ll be reaching over the clasped hands in front of you towards the fox.]

“If that doesn’t work, then I might go around the side and the group might move to stay away from me by turning around [model this as you are talking]. So I might go the other direction and come around the other way and put some moves on and go this way and that…”

As you are saying this you are running around them while they are spinning away from you. You are stopping and going the other way and spinning around to fake them out. Have fun with it and be tricky and fast if you can. The demonstration group will figure it out as you go.

“Notice this is more of a spinning around activity as opposed to a running across the room activity.”

Stop playing the game to explain more details.

“I can reach over their hands to tag the fox but the group will probably stop me from getting to close. [Demonstrate like before] But I can’t just jump over their hands like Superman [demonstrate Superman and people might laugh again]. I can reach under their hands [bend down to reach under], but I can’t go under. And I can’t do like Red rover, red rover and bust through the hands.”

“If you happen to tag the fox [demonstrate reaching over their hands and tagging the fox’s hand] then I celebrate and yell ‘ONE!’ and step back and try to tag the fox again. I see how many times I can tag the fox until the music stops.”

“Once the music stops then you will switch roles and pick a new fox and a new hound. I’m not going to tell you who the new fox and hound is; you’ll figure that out for yourselves. Just make sure everyone gets to play each role.”

“Please be aware that this is NOT a full contact sport! Please take care of each other and BE SAFE. Also be aware of the groups around you to avoid collision.”

Stop here, take any questions and demonstrate again if you have to. Once you’ve answered the questions, have everyone stand up and spread into their groups throughout the room. You know you’ve set up the activity well when no one has any questions [and they play the game properly, of course].

“Foxes connect with the other two people. Hound dogs make sure you are two steps away from your group. [pause] Hound dogs – let’s hear your hound dog sounds! (pause for response) Ready…Go!” [play upbeat, fast music nice and loud]

Let the game go on for a while, but not too long. Usually about 30 seconds per round is enough. Make sure they have enough time to enjoy the round but not so much that they become too exhausted to play again. Pause the music and with high energy, survey the groups to see if anyone tagged their fox. “GOOD JOB!”

Now give them a few minutes to pick a new fox and a new hound from their group. Have the foxes connect up with their group. Have the hound dogs take two steps away and begin another round.

I usually try to get in a total of four rounds. Everyone is pretty exhausted at the end of the game. People are sweating and breathing hard, but smiling and laughing too. Some of those foxes and hounds end up being friends for life.

It’s just another sure-fire way to break the ice.

Troy Stende uses experiential learning-based leadership programs to help schools develop student leaders and increase student retention. He believes those two things are inseparable and has been helping colleges and universities create connections and strengthen campus community since 1998. Check out his website, on Facebook, or email him.

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