Category: Teambuilding

In order to get to our Zipline participants have to traverse one of two cables between what we creatively refer to as platforms one and two. Here is what it looks like when 100 adult participants head to platform two from platform one.



Have you seen the photo on the internet with the picture of a trail that say’s “there is no Wi-Fi in the forest, but I promise you will find a better connection”?

wifi

I love this quote, because everything we do here is to get people to work together and want to be outside. Creating positive experiences outside is what we love to do. And five or ten years ago you would have spent the day out here, or your camper would have spent a week or two with us and then once home you would have developed the pictures off your camera and told your friends and family all about your experience.

But today’s world is different. Our friends don’t always rave about a great new restaurant to us anymore, instead they post about it, they review it, and they share pictures all online. This is the dilemma we are faced with here. We want our participants and staff to concentrate on the experience they are having in the moment, but we also want them to share their experience. We would like them to be able to look back at their newsfeeds and timelines and relive the moments they had with us and remember what a great time they had outside with their friends.

We want the involvement and the memories to last without crossing that line of bringing the technology with all of it’s distractions into the outdoors, so we are left with the dilemma: to #hashtag or not.

 

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

 

 

Sometimes it takes a dramatic or painful event to have realizations that pierce the veil of limited understanding.  Here was one of mine…

It was a beautiful June day and our facility was bustling with the return of staff and the arrival of brand new team members for another summer season.  I was finalizing my plan for their intensive weeks of training with us while balancing meet and greet time with office time.

The phone rang, my life changed. It was my big sister letting me know our dad had taken his own life.  Sound stopped, movement stalled, and the world and all that was happening around me fell away for a immeasurable moment in time. Once I regained a little composure, I began to wonder how I would face the staff, how I could possibly navigate the next three weeks that required me to be emotionally and physically accessible to so many, and when I would have the time to grieve.

I couldn’t help but collapse in tears in front of the staff as I tried to explain.  They silently acknowledged that it was their turn to be strong. What emerged from that silence was the most profound, meaningful, and connective training in our company’s history. What I viewed as an inconvenient, incomprehensible, and inescapable time of vulnerability as a leader was actually a gift to us all.

What an adventure it is to engineer and develop solutions to solve a challenge. Just last week I had a corporate team experience the “Tower of Excellence” where each shrinking platform demanded adaptation and by the end, a revolution, in how to achieve success.

Simply, the only parameters I provided were that everyone needed to be touching the platform for long enough to yell “WE ROCK 3 TIMES!” and no body parts could be touching the ground. The solution on the largest platform was clear and admitedly quite easy. The group actually thought I may have “screwed up” the activity because NOTHING they had done that day was that easy. However, as we progressed through the platforms the group was blown away by their three realizations and takeaways:

1) As the goal, resources, and challenge changes, the same solution distinctly did not apply!

2) It was not until the task ‘appeared’ impossible that innovation occured.

3) Strategies often do not work in reverse order.

Oh the places we will go when we master the above…