Jay Irwin, CEO of CBST Adventures, talks about the power of community impact events, and the story behind our “Hands of Gratitude” prosthetic hands team building experience.
Safety. Compassion. Integrity. Respect. Fun. These are the core values of Trips for Kids Denver Metro, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to giving underserved and at-risk youth the opportunity to experience and learn about the natural beauty of Colorado from the view on top of a mountain bike. Their mission is to foster positive life skills and healthy development of youth through self-empowerment and community leadership. Recently, Trips for Kids partnered with CBST Adventures to run a team building experience for ALEn, a household cleaning product company. With many company departments represented including finance, sales, management, and marketing, ALEn’s goal for this team build was to build new relationships and new problem solving skills within a working environment other than their office.
For the team build event, ALEn participants were split up into 8 groups where they entered the first stage of the event: the Bike Build. Each team’s objective was to build 2 bikes and 16 in total with 8 teams. At the end of the day, all of the bikes would be donated to Trips for Kids. Putting their collaboration and communication skills to the test, the teams had to build children’s mountain bike from scratch. No small task to say the least. Along with building the bikes, teams were also asked to write a heartfelt message for each child who would receive the bike.
After a mandatory check from a certified bike mechanic, teams were able to move onto the next stage of the event called ‘Challenges.’ During this stage teams find out what their bikes are made of (literally) and ride them through a series of bike station challenges. The teams then broke off into different challenge stations. The first station, ‘Mountain Bike Disc Golf,’ required participants to ride their bikes through an assortment of cones and then attempt to make the Frisbee into a makeshift disc golf goal. Teams next got their limbo on at ‘Mountain Bike Limbo,’ where they had to pass through two different limbo heights, all while riding the bike they built. Other challenges included ‘Turtle Hunting,’ where teams got a good laugh in watching their coworkers act as “turtles,” laying on their backs with their legs up, while other participants had to toss bike tires onto the “turtles” legs. It might sound a little strange but it’s as fun and as goofy an activity as it can get. The teams were grinning ear to ear and cracking themselves up during a good part of this activity.
The day ended with dinner and a special thank you from a Trips for Kids representative, who shared the importance of the day’s activities for Trips for Kids, elaborated on their mission, and thanked the ALEn group for their contribution. We wanted to share that towards the beginning of the month, Trips for Kids had a very unfortunate and disheartening situation – one of their vans filled with at least a dozen children’s bikes was stolen. Since this heartbreaking occurrence, Trips for Kids has desperately needed new bikes to be built, and thus, the ALEn group was immensely grateful to have built and provided these bikes for Trips for Kids.
The event came to a close with hugs, thanks, and smiles on everyone’s faces, as well as positive and an encouraging spirit emanating from the ALEn team. What’s really neat is when you step back and reflect on the day’s event – not only did the ALEn group come together and work cross functionally within their team but they also took part in a charitable experience, first hand. In our opinion, that’s what you call a powerful team build.
If the above sounds like fun and you’d like to learn more about similar events, click here.
What’s Within You Is Stronger Than What’s In Your Way. This is the spirit of No Barriers, a non-profit with the mission to unleash the power of the human spirit. No Barriers was originally founded by Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind summiteer of Mount Everest, and a group of his friends. Erik and his team now run the No Barriers Summit – a 4-day event attended by over 1,000 people with disabilities that come together once a year in beautiful Lake Tahoe, California. The No Barriers Summit is also an incredible time where technology providers and activity companies, such as CBST Adventures, offer technologies and services specifically for disabled individuals with the mission to help expose them to life-changing experiences.
For the past 5 years, CBST Adventures has run what’s known as the Amazing Race for the No Barriers Summit. As part the Amazing Race experience, we create an Amazing Race course with 6 challenge stations for the participants to complete. All of the participants form into teams and then go-through the course oftentimes with fearlessness and excitement. Many of the participants are individuals with disabilities including blindness, deafness, missing limbs, and paralysis or partial paralysis. The challenges are designed to help these individuals see beyond their limitations and to show them what their true potential is, both in outdoor activities and in life.
This year, we had 43 people compete in the Amazing Race and they formed into 6 teams. The 6 Challenge stations at the amazing race included all-terrain wheel chair competitions, rafting games, rock-climbing competitions, and mountain biking activities. All of the experiences incorporated innovative new technologies such as the Action Tracker Wheelchair (an all-terrain wheelchair), Aira Google Glass vision instruments to help the visually impaired, Joelette Mtn Bike cart and Tyrollean Traverse with Litter that enables mountain biking for the disabled, and Rafts that allowed for easy entry through an Easy Chair accessory. Witnessing all the new innovations specifically for the disabled was incredible and it was truly heartwarming to know that there are innovators and entrepreneurs out there trying to empower the disabled population through technology products.
During the event, we had 8 people in wheelchairs and many with lost limbs and sight – all of whom competed in the 6 challenges that we had set up. It was an inspiring sight. In one activity, we had 7 of the 8 people in wheelchairs attempt the rafting challenge, and through the use of the Easy Chair accessory, we were able to transport them into the raft. The people that could see would then spot for the folks who were blind to attempt to throw Bean Bags into the targets while the raft was floating down river. It was truly mesmerizing to witness the teamwork, collaboration, and encouragement amongst each of the teams and individuals.
One especially memorable moment from the race happened when one woman who was a quadriplegic in a wheelchair planned to go rafting but at the sight of the high water, cancelled her activity. You could immediately see she was disappointed with herself for cancelling and for giving in to her fear, which honestly is completely understandable. Over the course of the day, she started watching other individuals and teams with similar physical challenges hop into the rafts and go down the river. After seeing this, she decided right then and there she was not going to let fear stop her and was determined to go down the river in the raft. Very soon after, we put her in a raft and secured her in. She was smiling ear to ear and so were we.
When we came to the end of the rafting ride, tears welled up in her eyes, and in our CEO’s, who rode with her in raft. She shared that she always wanted to go rafting and it was the opportunity made possible by No Barriers and CBST Adventures that made her realize that she could actually do it. In her own words, she saw a life changing ‘Now or never” opportunity and took it. In the true spirit of the No Barriers event, she broke through her barriers and we honestly couldn’t be happier for someone.
If you’d like to learn more about our involvement in the community impact space, check out our Community Impact page here.
This past June 1st-4th was the No Barriers Summit, a life-changing event with a thriving community that believes What’s Within You Is Stronger Than What’s In Your Way. No Barriers Summit is a family-friendly event is for people of all ages and abilities with the mission create a transformational, life-changing experience regardless of your abilities.
As part of the No Barriers Summit there was also the No Barriers Adaptive Adventure Race. CBST Adventures had the great fortune to help facilitate the Adaptive Adventure Race, specifically for the outdoor and team-related activities. This video captures some of the highlights from the race – as you can see, the race and overall event was incredibly powerful and inspiring.
Team building might not be very high on a startup’s to-do list with all the demands that come with growing a new company – getting customers, fundraising, and hiring employees, just to name a few. Yet, more and more startups and emerging companies are realizing the value in investing in their employees and teams through team building activities. This was the case for the fast-growing startup, Birdeye, an online user-review tracking platform. Sometimes companies come to us because they have a particular challenge they want to address – trust, teamwork, communication. With Birdeye, it was simply that they are growing so quickly that they want to make sure their employees felt valued, cared about, and connected.
Birdeye has offices in multiple locations including California, Arizona, and Colorado, which meant many members of their startup team had not met yet. So we brought together approximately 40 people and ran a laid back but very fun team build event. As we were in the heart of sprawling downtown Denver, we thought it would be fun to do our Urban Orienteering Team Tracking event. This is a GPS -based activity where teams compete against each other with a GPS-enabled tablet and they must capture ‘Eye Spy’ photos while also play Cherry Picking (finding hidden objects) and Disc Golf games around the city. It’s a super fun time as it leverages technology through GPS and tablets while also encouraging teams to use problem solving, communication, and creative thinking to try to win the event.
To encourage the teams to get to know one another, we kicked off at the Wynkoop Brewery for some drinks and billiard games and we later learned that teams visited bars during the game (not necessarily part of the game but we fully support it in the spirit of team building!). At the end of the day, folks had a blast and the best part is nothing was forced on them. Yes, we put the group through a team build, but as you can tell, it was fairly casual and very open to teams having fun with it, whether through stopping at bars along the way or simply taking additional time to connect with their colleagues.
This type event really reflects our view on teambuilding in that you don’t have to have an overly structured and disciplined event for people to interact, connect, and grow as a team. While we certainly can run events as structured or loose as our clients like, our goal is that people walk away from a memorable experience that was fun, engaging, and transformative. If this sounds like something your company might be interested in, give us a shout! We’d love to learn more about your company and how we can create a lasting experience for your teams. Feel free to reach out to us here.
One of the coolest things that we get to witness is when companies and teams experience a team-build that benefits their local community. We find that these experiences seem to add another layer of meaning and purpose to the dynamics of the team build. Such was the case with a major healthcare consultancy that we worked with recently. Believe it or not, this company hadn’t done a company retreat in over two years. This happens with fast-growing companies but we think it’s awesome when growing companies decide to come up for air and invest some time in their people and culture.
This particular company’s focus is in the healthcare technology and services realm and as a consultancy, fostering a culture of service is extremely important. With that in mind, we knew a Community Impact experience would be a great fit and put the group through what we call our ‘Built for Need Bicycle Challenge.’ This experience consists of 3 stages (similar to a bike race) where teams must create kid-size bicycles, race the bicycles – yes, adults are riding kids bikes (we promise no bikes get damaged), and then donate said bikes and helmets to local children in need through the inner city youth program known as cityWILD. It’s truly a perfect blend of teamwork, fun, and service.
One of best parts of these experiences is watching the teams come together and gel from one stage to the next. In building the bikes, the teams really had to demonstrate strong communication skills and know how to delegate effectively. Once the bikes were built and ready to race, the teams couldn’t stop laughing and smiling at each other as their adult colleagues attempt to race on a kids’ bikes. It’s amazing how a little goofiness and fun can help people grow closer. Lastly, the teams then got to donate the bikes to inner city youth, which is a truly special experience that helps the teams and individuals see a world beyond themselves in the spirit of service.
In the end, twenty-four bikes and helmets were made and then donated to cityWILD. Something of particular note for this experience – we did notice at the start some individuals weren’t crazy about having to do a ‘team build.’ This is totally understandable as many team build experiences are outdated and not applicable. It’s safe to say that most of the participants probably didn’t expect a team build where at the end of the day they would be giving bikes to inner city kids in need. Needless to say, the entire group was ‘all-in’ and totally invested in the experience by the time all the bikes were donated. Like we said at the beginning of this blog, pretty cool, right? We like to think so.
To learn more about our Community Impact experiences such as this one, feel free to click here.
Leadership Development can often be something that organizations overlook when it comes to investing in their business. Yet, Leadership Development can be one of the hallmarks of a healthy and sustainable culture as leaders and managers very much determine the makeup of a company’s culture and workplace environment.
We recently came across an article from ‘Entrepreneur Magazine’ on the topic of Leadership Development and wanted to share this piece as it discusses importance of Leadership Development and the impact it can have on an organization.
Check out the article below:
Staff and employee turnover can be one of the biggest if not the biggest challenges an organization may face. So many companies could avoid this plaguing problem by simply investing in their employees. We wanted to share this article from Entrepreneur Magazine as it offers some great suggestions for how to effectively invest in your employees. At CBST Adventures, we support such advice as it aligns with our mission and values for helping organizations grow and thrive!
When new teams or divisions are formed, getting people to work together effectively is no small task. This was the challenge in front of the newly formed healthcare business unit for a global Fortune 20 corporation. Twenty-one company executives and the CEO of that division came to Colorado with the goal of building teamwork, trust, and communication among the team faster and more effectively than they could have on their own.
On paper, it might appear this new business unit would just naturally come together seamlessly– the team was full of incredibly talented individuals all working part of a multi-billion dollar corporation. Yet, even the best and biggest companies can’t always avoid the challenges surrounding culture, teamwork, and communications. In fact, those areas might be the biggest hurdles that stand in the way of such large organizations. This particular company wasn’t lacking culture; in fact, they had a fairly established culture rooted in military teachings and processes, as some employees were ex-military or ex-special forces. What our CBST Adventures team soon learned is that not everyone fully bought into the military culture – some simply didn’t have a military background or just didn’t understand the military approach. This resulted in a somewhat of a schism among the group. It was at this point we knew what the group needed.
We took the group to Buena Vista to go rafting the next day and to help promote team connection and bonding. We encouraged the group the ‘bunk up’ in somewhat close quarters, with 3-4 people to a room. This required some individuals to sleep on pullout mattresses versus actual beds. Interestingly enough, this turned about to be one of the more memorable parts of the trip. Sharing a room with 2 or 3 other people forced the executives to really get to know one another better as they learned about each other’s careers, families, hobbies, and personal lives. Some amazing personal bonds and connections were formed and the military-based culture factions began to dissipate. Come to find out, this social and cozy time together was so powerful for the group that the executives didn’t even mind the small rooms and low-frills accommodations.
The next day was full of adventure from rafting Class III and Class IV rapids, to hiking in the surrounding mountains, to playing one of our popular team building games, ‘GPS Lifeline.’ GPS Lifeline is an amazingly fun team build activity where the group breaks into teams and seek out targets over a large outdoor area with a GPS unit. Think of it as a large scale, high tech version of ‘Capture the Flag.’ Make no mistake, this is no backyard kids game. Teams are tested and challenged as the game requires participants to manage their teams in terms of strategy, goals, stamina and problem solving to ensure the team captures the targets back in time to complete their ‘mission.’ It’s a fantastic experience that truly promotes real-life team building, trust, and communication.
While the ‘GPS Lifeline’ was a great activity for the team, a truly transformation moment happened during the rafting. One of the individuals in the group was somewhat intimidated and fearful of the rapids for most of the rafting trip. Our guide team approached a rapid called ‘Swimmers’ Rapid’ where the rapids are safe enough to swim in. We encouraged the group to swim if they felt comfortable and were able. This particular individual felt compelled by the moment to face her fear of the rapids and told everyone she was getting in. With the help of one of our guides, she jumped into the rapids, wide-eyed and all and swam through them for a short while. She then safely climbed back into the raft and our guides and her team immediately noticed a shift in her demeanor – she had this look on her face as if she had just conquered something big – a fear inside her. It was a wonderful moment both for her and her team, as everyone congratulated her on overcoming her fear. To end this post, we thought we’d share an email we received from her a few weeks after her exciting swim in the rapids.
‘Hi, I think of Colorado often. Wondering why I actually jumped in the water. As I said I am a strong swimmer, but had never put myself in a situation like that before. Not sure if it was all the excitement or I wanted to test myself. Needless to say, I have a shared memory with many and will always remember the adventure.’
It’s such life-changing experiences that we love to create…
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.