Tuesday, August 28, 2012

High School Teen Mentors Benefit from Day of Team Building

I was happy to welcome a group of 12 students from St John's Catholic Prep of Frederick Maryland who were being prepared as mentors to incoming freshmen this semester. Their teachers and counselors had set goals for the day and the students, I am sure, had some goals of their own. Even though the school is very close to the Upward Enterprises ropes course, this was the first time the school had ever come for team building. After the day’s successful outcome, I am hopeful they come back with more students.  

It was easy to see right from the start that this group was going to be receptive to the education that I was about to introduce to them. We started with the formal introductions and got straight into what team building meant.

One of the team building activities I set up for them was to get the team through a hoop in the fastest possible time. They had most of the "Cliché" answers but could they put the theory into action? Immediately they had questions about what through the hoop meant and if there were any rules or boundaries. As I watched the group work together, they came up with the following strategy virtually by themselves.

  1. Defined the goal and confirmed exactly what “through the hoop meant”.
  2. Set the standards to which they all agreed to work by.
  3. Confirmed the start and finish lines.
  4. Tested their theory several times to collect data and changed their strategy as more ideas were gathered.
  5. Completed the task in 9.2 seconds before they showed no further improvement.
  6. Processed the whole experience so as to learn what and where the new found skill and group dynamic could be used in the future.

 All this in one activity! Whew…

After that we moved on to the cable traverse, affectionately know as the Mohawk Walk. This is a series of 4 cables that have various elements one can to use on the crossing to the given destination. Here the group was tested. The students had some great ideas which worked right off the bat. However other ideas created consequences to be paid. They quickly learned that consequences can immediately slow things down putting the entire process in jeopardy. Strengths and challenges of the group as a whole were taken into consideration and the group started to work around them. This synergy lead to a major break-through idea that then set the path. The end was now in sight. Time was running out to finish the exercise, adding more pressure, but with that came focus and determination.

The whole task was completed to rapturous applause and celebration. It was amazing to watch this group learn and grow as a team right before my eyes. As a reward, the St. John students got to ride the zip line at the ropes course. But what has riding a zip line got to do with team building I asked? Of course I got all the right answers.

The students gained a rewarding learning day that they can carry with them throughout their lives. The teachers went away with a little more knowledge and pride in their students and a mountain of metaphors to use in the future when the time arises.

I went away with another gratifying day in my outdoor classroom knowing that I contributed to the future of the next generation in America.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What a zip line and high ropes adventure can teach you

Thanks Kimbra for writing such a great article on your visit to our Upward Enterprises ropes course that appeared in the June 2012 issue of Chesapeake Taste. Hope to see everyone come out and experience the same.

On nearly the last zip line day, the one that ended with a high-speed collision into a cargo net, my husband, Mike, hollered through the trees, “Look down!” So I focused on the ground as I launched myself off the platform. For the first time all day, I actually recognized that I was falling--- ….

To read the rest of Kimbra and her families experience, go to the full article on Chesapeake Taste here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Be Inspired by the Summer Olympics

Are you inspired by the Summer Olympics to get out and see how you can push yourself to go beyond the expected?

The Olympic spirit is more than just the winning, it’s the taking part. It's easy to overlook that element of the experience and focus just on the winners but if you talk to the Olympians, the “taking part” is also an important achievement. Look at all the men and women that streamed into the stadium last Friday night in London. Most will not win a metal but none of them will forget the feeling of being a part of the Olympic team. They will carry that experience with them the rest of their lives of reaching beyond the expected.

These teams are successful with people working together. To be successful at the Olympic level these teams need trust, support and communication between team mates and coaches. While our activities out at the ropes course don't include synchronized swimming or equestrian horse jumping, there are plenty of elements that exemplify team building in the Olympic spirit.

Work as a team on the ropes course on our Mohawk Walk (a cable traverse). Imagine your group as gymnasts trying to traverse a balance beam. It takes coordination and team work to get the group across without falling off but what a sense of accomplishment your group will experience when you figure out a way to accomplish the goal. There are many more experiences out at the ropes course just like this.

Set your goals. Achieve more than you expect. Be inspired by your small successes.
-Clive Felgate, Upward Enterprises