Category: Staff Development

Ryan and Eric Cleaning Bull Run
Ryan and Eric Cleaning Bull Run

We get busy sometimes, busy planning summer camps, busy planning team building programs, busy training our staff, busy getting our fleet ready for camp… The point is sometimes the things we care about get pushed to the back burner. While our daily goal is to get people outside and to interact with the environment our direct environmental stewardship often gets pushed to another day.

So when a few months ago two of our senior staff members approached the leadership team with an idea for a Bull Run Cleanup event we fell in love with the idea and encouraged them to run with it. Our awesome staff members Ryan and Eric planned and executed a terrific day of river cleanup on The Bull Run and partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to make it happen. They also wanted the day to be educational and brought out Earnie Porta the Former Mayor of Occoquan, to speak about the history and importance of local rivers that feed the Chesapeake Bay.

In total the volunteers last Saturday removed over 1500 pounds of trash! That included a dozen tires, countless bottles and styrofoam, a boogie-board, and a tricycle. We went back down to the river the following day, and while you wouldn’t have previously thought about all the trash along the water it was evident how much cleaner the shoreline now was.

Thank you to our “tree hugging” staff Ryan and Eric and the wonderful volunteers that came out to help keep Hemlock Overlook and Bull Run a local treasure. You definitely carried your weight last weekend.



adam-headshot-Adam Trautenberg | Marketing / IT Manager

Back in 2004 I was lucky enough to be in a position to be invited to attend a three day training workshop with my co-workers lead by Tom Leahy, president of Leahy & Associates out of Boulder, Colorado. The workshop was titled the Innovative Team and focused on facilitation of team building and teaching tools for group problem solving. I gleaned a lot of new information and techniques from Tom, I was impressed by his facilitation style as one that would allow for the group to take charge of how we were going about completing the task but he also knew when to step in and re direct us. He also taught us some tools that helped to move the process forward while still allowing everyone to have their say in decisions and be heard when needed.

At the time of the training, I was still young and had recently been promoted into a leadership position focused on staff management. I had been working on developing my own leadership style and especially how to manage employees who were older than me; many of which were also in this training. It was a struggle to work with them sometimes, either because of the age difference or maybe it was just a difference in personality types, whatever it was my frustration level was pushed to a breaking point during the workshop. We got trapped in “Analysis Paralysis” over and over again; talking, questioning, re-questioning, and afraid to try anything, then questioning our fears and why we couldn’t move forward. Ugh!

I found myself holding back in the beginning because I felt unsure of my role in the group which was a combination of administration and corporate facilitators and I was one of the youngest in the room. I guess I must have been muttering to myself about how I thought we should solve the problem and Tom overheard, because at the end of the second day he encouraged me to speak up more. So on the last day of our training I stood up and made my voice heard and it went great. I feel like in some ways that day was a turning point for my relationship with many of the corporate facilitators. With Tom’s help I was able to show them why I had earned my new position in the company and I felt a new level of respect from them from then on. At the end of the workshop Tom pulled me aside to congratulate me on stepping up and told me to keep it up because this team needed a good leader. That meant so much coming from him and has stayed with me all these years since.

ACCT conference in beautiful Palm Springs, CA.
ACCT conference in beautiful Palm Springs, CA.

At the beginning of this month I had the opportunity to travel to sunny California for the 25th annual International Association of Challenge Course Technology conference. So many crazy outdoor educators all in one place! The conference is jam packed with workshops about every aspect of our profession from facilitation to operations and management of challenge courses and zip line tours. I was so happy to see that Tom Leahy was leading multiple workshops over the next couple of days because of the experience that I had with him ten years ago, but with all the workshops to choose from I questioned if his would be the most beneficial for me since I had already been though one of his trainings. Luckily as I was debating which workshops to attend I ran into Tom and asked him what he would suggest. His answer was simple, after ten years there is a lot that he has continued to learn and improve about his facilitation and trainings. And he was right; the two workshops of his that I attended were both very informative and inspirational. It reminded me of the importance of not becoming complacent with how I have always done things, but to constantly seek out new perspectives. Also I have been very appreciative of the reflection that this experience has lead me to about where I have come from, where I am now as a leader/trainer and the growth that I still have in front of me.

Giant domino activity in a corperate leadership workshop.
Giant domino activity in a corperate leadership workshop.
Debriefing activity using random objects and toys.
Debriefing activity using random objects and toys.


Rachel Doody-Rachel Doody | Program Director

Keeping the Road-Rage Out of Corporate Team Building

One of the best parts of my job is when I get to lead a group of adults on our team building course. Whether it’s a local company, a government department or group of teachers they are always in for an exciting and educational day out with their co-workers. Often in the morning when the group arrives, I can tell that there is a mixed bag of emotions due to whatever it is they think they are about to get into, but usually after the first couple of activities the group’s buy-in is at 100%.

I find that most people who have not yet experienced a program like ours have a variety of different ideas of what will happen; i.e. a crazy challenge course where they may not be physically able to keep up or the other end of the spectrum of holding hands around the campfire with a chorus of Kumbaya being sung. In reality though, most of my days with adult groups are full of laughs, many high-fives, some hugs, maybe a couple of tears, but my favorite is the moment when somebody inevitably shouts out “this is exactly what happens to us at work!”. The point is to make the connection, find the patterns and make plans for needed behavior changes to help strengthen the team back at work; a positive shared experience.

Now it’s rare for me to get to ever participate in anything like our team building course because I am usually the one leading it, so when I went to a grand prix indoor race track and saw that they do “Corporate Events” I was very excited. Maybe this could be something that I could bring the rest of the Adventure Links team out to do for some fun and bonding; but now that I’ve experienced it I don’t think I will ever offer that idea to our team, I like them too much.DSC02198

Don’t get me wrong, the race track was super fun. I got to wear a racing onesie and helmet, my race name was Pickled Ginga and those little cars go way faster than I thought they would, but I found myself with a little road-rage trying to get around people or when someone would pass me. The worst was when on the last lap I was clipped by another car, rammed into the wall and was disqualified. I got angry! If that would have been one of my co-workers… well, let’s just say us redheads are known for our ability to hold a grudge for unreasonable amount of time. So I guess this means no corporate event paint-balling or laser tag for me, maybe just a day at the place with the room full of trampolines.


DSC02204– Rachel”Pickled Ginga” Doody | Program Director



Wilderness First Responder, WFR

Adventure Links is proud to be hosting a Wilderness First Responder course this year. Among outdoor companies wilderness training courses are the norm. Companies typically outsource to various vendors who in turn provide an instructor. Average medical courses include: Wilderness First Aid (WFA), Wilderness First Responder (WFR), and some go as far as Wilderness EMT.

A WFA course is typically two days long and basically expands on basic first aid lessons with an outdoor backdrop. A WFR course is a bit heftier, averaging a week to ten days the course covers quite a bit and aims to have the participants be completely comfortable with wilderness aid. Participants tend to learn convenient techniques like creating a splint, but the wilderness side of it shows them how to do it with non-traditional materials, for example a splint might be made from a jacket, branches, and a shoelace. or an arm sling can be made from a shirt and extra tent cordage.

For most of the trips that Adventure Links runs a WFA certification is sufficient, as most groups are within an hours range to a hospital and rarely without cell service. But the comfort that some of our instructors feel with a WFR certification under their belt is unparalleled, so we made sure we could offer the course to our employees and anyone in the surrounding area looking to up their certification.