Whether it's their first day of school, first day of camp, first day of Girl Scouts--or some other anxiety-laden experience--there are several different games that you can introduce to girls in order to break the tension, allow them to get to know one another better, have fun and learn to work together. These games typically involve collective problem solving, which requires them to work out a solution together.
Fear in a Hat
Fear in a Hat is a great way for girls to overcome their anxieties about making new friends, being in an uncomfortable environment, working together, while building trust with one another. The conceit of the game is that each girl is given a piece of paper and a pencil to write down their fears about anything. According to Wilderdom, the best way to phrase the statements are: "In this trip/group/program, I am [most] afraid that..." or "In this trip/group/program, the worst thing that could happen to me would be...". Each girl finishes the sentence and puts the paper in the hat. Then, each girl takes a paper from the hat and reads it aloud. For each fear, the girls discuss together good ways to address it. This builds trust, confidence and support within the group.
The Human Knot is a great first-day ice breaker activity. Ask the girls to stand in a circle, shoulder-to-shoulder. Next, tell the girls to reach across the circle with one hand and, as they introduce themselves, grasp the hand of another girl. Once the first hand is being held, ask them to do the same thing with the other hand. Now that they are holding hands with two other girls, tell them their next job is to undo the knot they've created with their tangle of hands (thus, The HUMAN KNOT) without letting go and breaking the chain. One caveat is that they're allowed to readjust their grip to make it more comfortable, but they cannot unclasp hands in order to help undo the knot.
Trust falls are a favorite team-building exercise used by everyone from camp counselors to corporate trainers. The conceit is simple. Ask the girls to partner up, or do it yourself, trying to match pairs by roughly equivalent height and weight. Tell the pairs to decide who is the 'Faller' and who is the 'Catcher.' Ask the Faller to stand completely straight, body stiff, feet together, arms folded across the chest. The 'Catcher' should be instructed to stand close behind, arms extended, with one leg in front of the other. The Faller then tells the Catcher that she is ready to fall, and the Catcher responds by telling the Faller she is ready to catch her. Finally, the Faller falls into the arms of the Catcher.