The Association for Talent Development, or ATD, a major resource and publication for personal and professional development, published an article in May 2016 on the value of experiential learning for leaders. At CBST Adventures, we are big advocates for experiential learning and have incorporated this concept into many of our programs, including our Experiential Leadership offerings.
To learn more about our Experiential Leadership programs, click here and please contact us.
Have you ever been hungry? Even for just a little bit? You skipped breakfast and went out on a hike. You didn’t have time for lunch during conference calls. Or, perhaps, you went to the pantry, and nothing called to you. How did that make you feel? Were you short tempered? Feeling a little uneasy? Maybe even lightheaded?
Now imagine that you experience that every day. You go to the pantry and you find a can of beans, or a few potatoes, and that is your food for the day. As you walk out on the streets heading for work you notice the restaurants, and the food smells great, but when you reach into your pocket you realize that you don’t have the money to even buy a sandwich.
Sometimes in our privileged world, we might feel that there are plenty of programs out there to handle issues like this - food stamps, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and subsidized lunches. While these programs do help to alleviate some of the challenges, there are still many Americans living only blocks from us that are going hungry every single day.
With this in mind, we’d like to share a powerful story that starts with a local company setting a key business goal was to “make a difference” in society. Yes, you read that right – a business goal intent on making a social impact. Solidyn Solutions, an engineering services company headquartered in Denver, decided that they wanted to do something during their holiday celebration to give back to their community. Their leaders noticed that Keystone Resorts was offering a Community Impact Team Building event with their group meeting package, so they decided to have their all-company holiday party up in Keystone.
Dawn and Andy Marshall, key executives at Solidyn, are two incredibly caring people who are active in serving as advocates for low-income and homeless families in the Denver metro area. They serve on the board and volunteer with the Jefferson County Action Center. This desire to serve and improve the local community is a cornerstone value for CBST Adventures as well, which is why we often include a social impact component with our events.
Solidyn decided to host a Community ‘Mini-Golf’ Impact Food Drive Challenge at their event in Keystone, where employees would be challenged to create mini-golf courses with perishable food (in a non-damaging way, of course). CBST Adventures sprung to action, setting the stage for what was sure to be an amazing evening of sharing in the holiday spirit and giving back.
When the evening of the mini-golf event arrived, Solidyn’s employees and families arrived to find $5,000 worth of food waiting for them to build out 15 holes of ‘championship-worthy’ mini-golf course. The children of the families were ecstatic, and the engineer parents were even more thrilled. It was truly a sight to behold, as rarely have our events had so much engineering creativity and design.
What really made the event special was beforehand, CBST’s CEO, Jay Irwin, reached out to CityWILD, the youth leadership development non-profit in Denver and invited 11 CityWILD students to work the Solidyn event. The CityWILD students not only worked side by side with CBST staff and Solidyn, helping with the build out of the mini-golf course, but then they were given the tremendous responsibility to later go into their own low-income neighborhoods and deliver the non-perishable food to families in need.
Once the evening was over, the 11 CityWILD students and our CBST staff packed up three pallets of food to be distributed to these communities in need. One of the CityWILD students said to CBST’s CEO, “That was so much fun working the event, but what’s going to be more fun is distributing this food out into my community. It’s going to make such a huge impact on Christmas for my neighbors, and I know exactly who needs it the most.”
To make their deliveries even more special, the students put the food into meaningful packages and delivered them door-to-door. Rice, beans, tuna, granola, peanut butter, spaghetti and sauce, applesauce, and a tin of Christmas cookies for each family as a special treat were all included. Upon delivery, one woman starting crying and said, “The food is important and my family needs it, but it means even more to know that someone out there cares enough to think of me and my family during this time.”
Make no mistake, this was a teambuilding event for Solidyn and their employees; but, as you can tell, the impact of the event went far beyond the company of Solidyn. It’s such transformational and life-changing events that we at CBST Adventure’s love to create and help be a part of.
To learn more about CBST and our Social Impact initiatives, click here.
If you play videos games, you might be familiar with the term ‘Level Up.’ In video game terminology, it means to advance to the next level and to progress within a game. This was the theme of a bi-annual meeting for a major medical device company in the Kidney Dialysis market.
As part of this theme, it was important to the company and to the 42 person team that CBST Adventures worked to focus on improving communication, collaboration, and critical thinking, all aspects that are important to their daily work. We love when companies want to incorporate their regular jobs into the teambuilding experience because that mirrors our approach as well. We don’t believe in simply creating half-day or daylong escapes for our clients but rather to provide a transformational and dynamic experience that people will take with them back to the office for many days, months, and years to come.
Now don’t be mistaken, while our events are powerful and impactful, we love having fun too. For example, as part of this team build, we had the director of the team dress up as a Queen (think Zelda or another popular medieval games) and go out in public to different places in Downtown Denver. You can imagine amount of laughs that ensued... The challenge for her team was then to try to find her via clues on a 4G tablet that had her GPS location.
In case you’ve never heard of an outdoor teambuilding experience that dresses people up like Queens out in public and incorporates tablets and GPS technology, that’s because there’s not many out there. We like to believe that this is unique to CBST Adventures value proposition. Yes, we’re an outdoor company but we also know that technology plays a large role in society today and even can add value to an outdoor experience. As for integrating the element of fun – well, who doesn’t like to have fun???
Throughout the game, the teams gained information and clues via pop-up questions, streaming videos and real time text based commands sent to their 4G tablet. At each stage of the progressive game, teams had the choice to compete at the first challenge level and earn the minimum amount of points OR go for a more difficult challenge worth more points. With higher risk comes higher reward but there's also more to lose!
All in the all, the game was an incredible experience for the participating company as it pushed them to practice high levels of communication, problem solving, and critical thinking – remember the objectives from above? What was really neat to see was the trust forming amongst colleagues and strengths identified in others that many folks didn’t know where there. These are the insights and breakthroughs that can be a game-changer in terms of how a team or organization functions.
At days end, the Queen was found but the laughter and good times kept going. Where we take the most pride at CBST Adventures is in creating a memorable experience that a team or organization won’t forget for awhile - not just because how fun or funny it was, but also because it transformed perspectives and improved interpersonal skills – invaluable results for companies and an incredible outcome for a half-day team build event.
If you’ve ever participated in a teambuilding exercise, pull up those memories. Did it succeed in accomplishing its goals? Did it change your behavior at work? Better yet, did it change you as a person?
Most team building activities are pretty one-dimensional. They address behavior at one moment in time. Maybe the goal is to climb up a rope faster than Bill in Accounting. Or maybe the goal is to get Bill in Accounting up the rope. Imagine, instead, if such activities lived with people beyond a teambuilding event, and delivered results over a long period of time.
At our company, CBST Adventures, we facilitate a broad range of world-class teambuilding and leadership development activities, some “traditional” and others not so much. Always, our goal is to design an experience that is enduring - reusable and repurposeable for clients and their employees over an indefinite period of time.
For example, back in February, a long time client, Optiv, came to us and asked for our help in designing a 2 hour—but transformational—experience to complement their 3 day sales and training conference.
Here’s what we came up with. The last day of the conference, about 65 Optiv marketing professionals walked into a generic conference room at the Hyatt Regency Downtown Denver and saw piles of camping equipment.
The event was launched with an announcement that the mundane conference room was about to be transformed into Camp Conference Center. In a flurry of activity, each of the corporate campers was assigned randomly to teams. Each team was given the instruction that it would have 90 minutes to set up a usable campsite and perform various challenges. When time expired, a spokesperson from each of the groups would step forward and finish this sentence: ‘Camping is…’ When all that’s done, we’ve got a little surprise.”
As expected, there was a bit of confusion as each team sorted out roles and responsibilities. But soon, everyone settled into a groove. 90 minutes later, they reconvened as one group. A spokesperson from each team stepped forward. “Camping is…fun!” Camping is…challenging!” Camping is…hard!”
After each took their turn, the corporate campers were wondering what was next when the conference room doors banged open. Half dozen high school kids surged into the room. Each of them are active in CityWild, a Denver nonprofit organization that empowers inner city youth to experience the outdoors and develop leadership skills through adventure.
Over the next half hour, these youths guided the employees through a series of fun, somewhat-camp related activities like hockey slap shots into the open tent flaps and sleeping bag races.
To the delight of the campers, a proclamation was made that Optiv would be donating all the camping gear to CityWild and Big City Mountaineers. After this announcement, several of CityWild’s informal ambassadors starting sharing their stories. Daniel, a high school junior, related in a quiet voice to a now silent crowd how adventure had changed his life. Rosa, a board member, told how she’d seen her children transform and now was watching the same thing happen with her grandchildren. You could see it in everyone’s faces. Everyone in the room couldn’t wait to get out on their next adventure.
After the event, I lingered in the hallway and chatted with some of Optiv’s employees. They shared with me how this simple 2-hour team-building event had changed them. “I love camping,” gushed one young woman. “I take it for granted that I can just go whenever I want. None of these kids take it for granted. And today we’ve done something that’s going to them keep doing what they love.”
CBST Adventures isn’t your typical ropes course or mystery box company. We want people to walk away from our events feeling transformed, enlightened, and awakened. It’s our goal that client experiences don’t just last for a day – they live with people for a lifetime.
Teambuilding is a never-ending process. As the company or the team grows, it continuously faces challenges to maintain a healthy team dynamics. Thinking strategically about on-boarding, development and maintenance is a critical component for every business.
Experiential outdoor leadership programs help in creating a learning environment for team practice so that the team members can execute more effectively in the real world. When one works as a team, it helps in boosting up the team’s moral through shared successes and performance breakthroughs. As the old proverb goes: United we stand, divided we fall. The leadership modules engage a wide variety of learning styles. Unique interactive challenges provide opportunities to devise strategies, and collaborate better on leadership roles rather than dividing on an individualistic approach to any issue.
Dynamics of Team Building and Experiential leadership at a glance:
- Surveys and interviews at the personal level: All team members are put through theme based tests that help to understand the individual psyche of the members through experimental and challenging modules.
- Assessment of existing team dynamics: In every office and every business exists an inter-departmental tension. But once they members of different departments are mixed within the outbound teams, it’s always easy to observe and assess the existing team dynamics.
- Explores elements of trust: The modules created for the outreach programs help the management to explore interaction, communication, collaboration and element of trust among its various departments.
- Group orientation: Navigation to any destination is difficult, but if the team dynamics work then one can easily and successfully reach the goal and work wonders. Experiential leadership programs help in orienting a group through its common shared dynamics.
- Facilitates sharing of information: Helps in accessing and sharing skills of each member of the team. There are times when we do not even know what potential a particular team member has, but when thrown before challenges they can exhibit their hidden talents that otherwise go un-noticed. Even sharing of information and opinions that is usually not done while a person is working within a department, can be executed.
- Development of a road map: Once the mix-and-match teams live together and sort out their differences through shared responsibilities, they get a chance to sit down and talk about commitment and actionable steps. This helps the employees themselves to control their developmental process and put in more to achieve their goals.
- Persuasive leadership: Rather than positional leadership, persuasive leadership while working in a team can bring out the best from employees. The experiential programs help even a positional leader to use their persuasive skills to make their members gel together rather than commanding by virtue of their position.
Outdoor experiential leadership and training programs are popular modern day tools to create a team of empathic and unique leaders, teaching them to use their intelligence and expertise in innovative ways. Working for hours, meeting deadlines, treading the thin line of work-life balance can at times be extremely stressful for corporate leaders. In the process they tend to lose their imagination and innovation that could have otherwise produced an eclectic workforce. But a tryst with nature, learning to help, build and create as a united team, outbound and outdoor activities can bring in life to an otherwise mundane in-office corporate world. Outdoor programs aim at developing potential skills of workers and leaders that otherwise go unnoticed and untapped. And what’s more, they get a stress-free environment, embalming touch of ‘Mother Nature’ and a self-satisfaction by serving the community hands on.
How your team benefits at a glance:
- Decrease stress levels: Working on time schedules within the confines of an office environment can be terribly stressful for corporate leaders. When serotonin, nicknamed as the happy hormone, is released in the brain, humans feel a sense of safety and well-being. It has been observed by scientists that serotonin and pleasure chemical dopamine are released by repetitive actions like mingling with nature, working as a united force with the community, acts of charity and helping the sick and the needy. Thus outdoor experiential programs help to de-stress corporate leaders.
- Increase motivation: Compared to traditional, indoor, time scheduled activities; outdoor activities increase the will to work. Researchers over decades have come up with studies where working as a team outdoors on team building activities have helped individuals to push themselves to their highest performance levels.
- Better attitude towards others: Within an office environment there are often chances of getting into ego clashes or be a victim of office politics. However, outdoor experiential programs bring individuals together and help them to be more empathic and helpful towards other team members.
- Better overall behavior: Social adjustment, self- concept and group cohesion --- all potential pitfalls that result in poor staff behavior can be improved through outdoor activities.
- Enhanced communication skills: Solving problems on expeditions as a team helps to bring out the best from even a shy and recluse office worker. They can participate in lead discussions, give their valuable inputs, feedbacks and even resolve conflicts. Compared to a traditional setting, a challenging outdoor problem solving session can surely bring out the best.
- Increases self-reliance: A willingness to challenge one physically and emotionally is integral components of outdoor programs. Pushing oneself can enhance self-reliance, confidence, self-esteem and communication skills.
- Community improvement: Outbound programs become more effective as leaders use their knowledge to reach out to the community and use their skills for the benefit of others.
- Improves memory: A proven way to improve recall is to experience something new and unfamiliar, which releases dopamine into the hippocampus where memories are created. Such programs are thus a fresh stimuli for senses and help to create a better workforce.
- Better health: A couch-potato in office glued to the computer screen takes a toll on the health of individuals. But such outdoor activities from time to time will help one work on the ‘nature-deficit disorder’ and protect the staff from getting into depressions, stress related lifestyle diseases like diabetes and obesity. So one gets a healthy, slim and trim and intellectually motivated workforce if they participate in such outdoor experiential leadership programs.
LEADERSHIP could be a rather tricky beast and for executives and managers, it's is an extremely important skill but developing it in the workplace can be difficult, when day-to-day tasks, meetings, and other rote activities get in the way.
The word experiential is understood as learning and development achieved through personally determined experience and involvement, rather than on received teaching or training, typically in group, by observation, listening, study of theory or hypothesis, or some other transfer of skills or knowledge.
GET OUT, GET GOING
Leaders are considered to be experts with a specific knowledge set and skills that influence the goal direction of followers. All it takes is moving away from the everyday grime and get ready the team ready for an action packed adventure full of fun and learning at the same time.
Taking your team away from the boring walls and cliché indoor training sessions of the office space to a place for an adventure filled team building session amidst nature, could turn out to be an experience of a lifetime for each every individual.
1. DEVELOPS PEOPLE AS INDIVIDUALS - These programs help develop people as individuals, rather than simply transferring arbitrary capabilities, there is a rise in people's confidence, self-esteem, personal strengths, and crucially a rounded sense of purpose and fulfillment which fundamentally improve attitude, life-balance and emotional well-being.
2. IMPROVES COMMUNICATION - with so many team based activities in the program, it demands all participants to enjoy each moment but as an active team member. It not only allows them to open up with everyone more easily to be able to execute the task in hand, but also gives them an experiential lesson on functioning and conquering as a team but in the most fun filled way.
3. LEARN DIRECTLY FROM MOTHER NATURE - The popularity of these active adventure outdoor programs stems from their experiential nature. These programs have the advantage of placing participants in a learning setup in the lap of nature’s bounty, whereby the learner is required to engage in direct experience in order to increase skills or enhance a particular skill.
4. ENHANCES LEVELS OF PERCEPTION - Most of the time leaders are so glued to your desk, and so glued to everything that's going on, that they may lack proper perspective, in a workplace environment. It is the fresh air, different environment and out of the boardroom that gives people an opportunity to really look at themselves from the outside in, about how they are perceived as a leader.
5. CSR AND COMMUNITY IMPACT - It is the small changes in the initiatives that we take, further refining them not only to benefit people on an individual level but in a way that impacts the community on a whole. It is with these outdoor experiential programs that the office going crowd from corporate sectors can look at nature from close quarters. These programs give an opportunity to the workaholics to slow down and look at what is around them and triggers in them the need to take control of the damage in the environment. It makes them more responsible and aware. While on one hand they are able to appreciate nature’s beauty, on the other hand they receive an insight of need of the hour to take care of the planet and everything that it has to offer so unconditionally.
Are you looking for that unique Community Impact and Leadership Development event this year that will allow your company to give back to the local community and help energize your company culture?
How many incredibly impactful corporate events have you been part of this year? In your lifetime? When we speak with our customers, they continue to look back at their past events with us as a tipping point in their communication and collaboration across their companies and within their divisions. Could this be that event for your company?
This isn't a generic teambuilding event that provides a blip in your communication. No, this will be impactful and memorable and you'll be talking about, and sharing this event across every channel that you can.
In this one of a kind Community Impact Team Building event, your team will join forces with rock wall designers, trained rock climbing youth, and team building facilitators to build a CUSTOM ROCK CLIMBING WALL inside the CityWILD facility based in the Five Points neighborhood in Denver.
If your team strives for better connection and a great return on investment, this is the project for you! This is your opportunity to enhance team dynamics & energize your company culture, while giving back to the community in the form of Youth Leadership Development. Call us at 303-495-2620 or send an email to Info@CBSTAdventures.com to learn more...
- Volunteerism promotes personal growth & self-esteem
- Understanding community needs helps foster empathy and self-efficiency
- Experience a change of scenery
- It provides leadership opportunities to give back to community and gain a sense of belonging
- Volunteering offers the opportunity to share your expertise and gain a new skill set
- It brings people together from diverse backgrounds to work toward a common goal
- Volunteering enhances your quality of life
- Volunteerism offers an incredibly rewarding experience
- It is an opportunity to explore new personal interests and goals
- An opportunity to have fun and try something new
Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Colorado has been an active place for corporate groups this year, we've had some great team building adventures starting back in Winter 2012 and going strong ever since. Check out these links from recent programs...
We've been getting calls lately from companies on the west side of Denver looking for team building and group adventures. As most locals know, Lakewood & Golden are great towns as they border the Front Range / Rocky Mountains, and have great access to Jefferson County Open Space Parks and other local outdoor scenes. One of our favorite places for Denver Team Building is Bear Creek Lake Park in Lakewood. It's roughly a 20 minute drive from both the Denver Tech Center and Downtown Denver, and you feel like you're in a remote canyon in Colorado. And because the weather in Denver is great throughout the year, we are able to run programs in our All Seasons Adventures and Summer Adventure Series all year long. Give us a call at 970-668-8900 if you want to bring a group to the park for a corporate team building program. Here are photos from our most recent adventure...
Colorado Springs has always been an exciting place for corporate meetings and team building exercises due to a small city vibe combined with amazing expansive resorts like the Broadmoor and Cheyenne Mountain Resort. And it sure doesn't hurt that there are beautiful backdrops like Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods close to the city. We've been helping companies with leadership development and group adventures in the Springs for many years, with most requests coming from our All Seasons and Summer Adventure programs. Our team building programs are fully customized to each client, Contact Us to build your adventure today!