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Team Building, Rabid Monkeys and Aliens, Oh My!

When adults need to do teambuilding activities, you typically see eye roll and hear snickering.  But, at Tamarack Adventure & Retreat Center, we don’t mess around.  Part of a teambuilding might be when a team member is hoisted five feet in the air, threaded headfirst through a manmade web.  And while it sounds scary and intimidating, we know first-hand that it is really, really fun.

Once in your team’s hands, you didn’t worry about weight or breaking your neck. You don’t fret over injuring someone. Instead feel empowered and a great sense of trust and appreciation for your team, who is literally, holding you up. Get it?

Trust is a powerful thing. It’s also the foundation of successful teams and strong leadership. Communication, respect, collaboration and responsibility are also fundamental attributes of high performing teams. In as little as four hours, team challenges, which might seem silly, can be transformative.

A typical day might start out with Tamarack guides Jess and Tyler leading the group on a short hike through the camp’s densely forested trails. Then, you might be tasked with a challenge like rock/paper/scissors meets simulated balance beam, wrapped in enthusiastic fans and supporters. In addition to learning how flexible your team members can be, the point of this exercise is to experience the roar of the crowd. (It feels really good, especially when team members cheer you on.)  Icebreaker with lesson—check!

After that, you venture deeper into the woods where a thick rope hung from a tall tree. Five or six feet from where the rope knotted near the ground stood a circle of eight, vinyl record-sized tree slices. The job is to ensure every team member gets to the slices without touching the ground after leaving the rope.

The challenge is often told in a way that involves rabid monkeys, a science experiment gone awry, apocalyptic climate conditions, all complicated by mandatory silence. After crushing the task (as most teams usually do), it’s time for the climbing wall—roughly 12 feet tall of smooth-to-the-touch wall.

The final group challenge might be to evacuate all participating members over the wall to safety before a platoon of towering alien penguins reached your fortress. Everyone is required to participate actively, though no one is required to scale the wall.

In fairly quick order, the team selects candidates to be human step stools and the first pair of arms to hoist climbers within reach of the top of the wall. Like the other group initiatives, the exercise demands communication, trust, cooperation and courage. In addition to fending off mutant penguins, you must assuage those who have a fear of falling or heights and cheer on your teammates to no end. In the end, mutant penguins usually end up losing.

Before hiking back to the parking lot, Jess and Tyler gather the circle to review the morning’s events. Teamwork and trust are always central themes. Some discovered new attributes like leadership and risk-taking in colleagues they’d worked with for years. Many are proud of their individual accomplishments and freely credited the team for their support and encouragement. Everyone enjoys the outdoor setting, deep enough in the woods to escape the confines of an office and reach of cell phone towers.

The day finishes with testimonials like, “a great bonding experience,” or  “that was truly telling of how our team could work better in the office…and fun too.”

So next time you are looking for an interesting, team building and bonding experience that may or may not involve rabid monkeys or alien penguins, it might be worth it to give us a call!  We’re always here!