Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Indoor Team Building

Cold weather doesn't stop team building opportunities here at Upward Enterprises. We can have just as much fun indoors team building at your facility or ours located at the Claggett Center. Anyone up for a fun ice breaker of multi-player thumb wrestling?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What are you Thankful for this Holiday Season?

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, it's that time of year to reflect with gratitude on all the wonderful things this year has brought. Let us know what you are most thankful for this holiday season.

Here are just a few of the things we are grateful for here at Upward Enterprises.
  • The love of family
  • Being able to work at a job that I love
  • The smiling face of a child at our ropes course who just accomplished something they were scared to try
  • Friendship
  • Being privileged to watch Hudson grow into a little man
  • Another day on Planet Earth


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Be the "The Man in the Arena"

Frequently we have groups out at the ropes course where a few participants stand off to the side who need encouragement to join in.  Today I wanted to share an inspiration quote to all of those individuals to give them confidence that there is great learning in pushing yourself to dare greatly.

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
~ Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Have you ever yawned because you saw someone else do it?

Your friend yawns, you can't stop yourself from yawing back. This physical trigger to mirror what someone in your group is doing also applies with attitudes.

All teams have vibes that are just as contagious as a yawn. Next time you find yourself in a group situation, pay attention to the to the attitudes of those around you. Does the confidence of one person rub off on the group?

Studies and my personal experience at the ropes course working as a facilitator in team building exercises bear this out as truth. When the team is gaining confidence its infectious. Our challenge is to keep that positive attitude growing like a snowball down a hill.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

This is not an Example of "Team Building"

If you follow college football, you might have seen this story published by the Daily Hampshire Gazette regarding the football program at the University of Massachusetts. A video was posted showing what head coach Charley Molnar describes as a "team-building" exercise that instills "mental toughness." 

This is what Molnar was reported to say to the Gazette,
“We tried to get these guys to feel that fear, but go out there and do it anyway,” he added. “We never had one guy not go out and box or wrestle. Some of them went out with a lot of trepidation, but by the end of the cycle were thoroughly enjoying the activity. We did all these activities with safety in mind. I’m a fanatic about player safety. I thought it aided in team-building. Guys faced the fear and fought through it. That was the objective.”

As the owner and operator of Upward Enterprises, I can say with expert knowledge in all forms of team building, that this is NOT Team building. Football players being ordered to wrestle each other on the field is just poor judgment. How can beating up fellow team mates be used as a way to build camaraderie and spirit? Disgraceful.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Don't take our word that team building at Upward Enterprises Ropes Course is great. Read some recent comments sent in from our clients.

"We had a fantastic time at the ropes course. Just about all the feedback I have received was extremely positive. You and your staff were excellent."
Ralph, E. Johnson, PhD, Dean, Student Success and Faculty Development
Washington Adventist University

"Dear Clive, the ropes course programs were fantastic this past weekend. Thank you so much. Larry, Dave, Travis, Javier and all the other folks were just superb - very professional, great with the girls, able to connect with them and really push them to do things they didn't think they could do. Everyone had a positive attitude and really made an effort to get to know our students. The girls had the best time. We look forward to seeing you all next year!"
Emily Fetting, Interim Dean of Students, Director of Service Learning & Global Outreach
National Cathedral School

"We had a wonderful time. Larry was engaging as always. You guys have this down to a science and the kids (and teachers) really get a lot out of it. See you next time!"
George Kasnic, Middle School Guide
Greenspring Montessori School

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Team Building - Opening Your Mind to a Different Way of Viewing the World

From The Happy Show exhibition, created by Stefan Sagmeister currently on exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center through September 23, 2013.

At the Upward Enterprises ropes course in Buckeystown, MD we are always encouraging or team building groups to look at the world in a new way.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bicycle Elevator - First Floor Canopy Tour?

At the ropes course we use ladders to get up into the trees for our canopy tour zip line but what an inventive way to switch things up - a bicycle ride to the treetops! Being safety conscious, I'd recommend wearing a helmet. Can't wait to see how the rest of his tree house turns out.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Meet Our Facilitator Travis

If you have come out to our team building ropes course this year, you might have met one of our newest members of the Upward Enterprises team, Travis Creamer. 

Travis Creamer at Upward Enterprises Ropes Course
Using his degree in Physical Education from Ohio University, Travis has worked in the outdoor recreation field for many years both as a facilitator and a builder of ropes challenge courses. His love for outdoor education started in the late 80's as a lifeguard for a local camp. Since then he has worked for multiple organizations and camps. He also has experience leading a variety of activities such as canoeing, climbing, caving, backpacking, primitive skills and of course team building on a challenge course.  In his free time he enjoys coaching team sports, fly fishing, disk golf, home brewing and barbecuing. 

We are very happy to have Travis as part of our organization. He has brought considerable talent and energy to our team.

Great to work with Travis yesterday!
Donna Kerner, Program Coordinator Bishop Claggett Center

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Jack Rides the Zip Line at Upward Enterprises Ropes Course

Jack, my nephew is visiting us for the summer. I took him out to my ropes course last week to ride the zip line. It was a beautiful day and as you can see by this video below, we had a blast. Now its your turn to get your group out and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Extreme Zip Lines from Around the World

Over the past two years, it seems every where I look there is a new zip line / canopy tour is being built. I fact from the Upward Enterprises ropes course in Buckeystown, Maryland, I can more than a half dozen that are only driving distance away. What makes our zip lines at our ropes course so unique is that they are part of our team building program and just one of the many elements we use to build leadership and team bonding.

But everyone wants to have fun too, right? That is why I have put together my "wish list" of zip lines around the world that I would love to ride. Just get me a plane ticket and I'll be off!

1. Ever want to be a bat in a cave? The Louisville Kentucky Mega Cavern underground zip line is the only cave zip line in the world.

2. Ah, Luzerne Switzerland... the mountains... the lake! Now I can take the Sternensauser world's longest zip line and see it all.


3. Heading to warmer climates is the Dragons Breath Zip Line in Labadee, Haiti. I can feel the cool ocean breezes now as I sail over the water for a soft landing on the beach.

Do you have any zip lines in your bucket list? Post a comment and let us know.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Being Together, Without Being Together

Communication is a key element we teach on our ropes course. Face to face interaction is dwindling as we filter our communication through technology. Team building requires us to put down the cell phones and talk to one another, to think, and share ideas face to face to solve problems. The greatest chance of success in life and on the ropes course is through communication with each other in the here and now. Let us teach your group to build connections with each other that will stay with them throughout their lives.

I found this interesting talk given by Sherry Turkle, a professor at MIT. What are your thoughts on her topic "Connected, but Alone" ?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Field Trip Grants for Groups for Team Building Day at Ropes Course

Thank You cards from students who loved our ropes course
Are you a school group looking to come out to our team building ropes course in Buckeystown, Maryland for a day of learning and fun but need help with the financing? There are many corporate and government grants that are available.  Target, for example offers field trip grants up to $700.00 that can help you defray the cost of bringing your group to our course. Kohl's is making available grants ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 for field trips for the 2013-2014 school year.

Learning outside the classroom is a great way to engage students in a challenge-by-choice environment. Recently we welcomed Brunswick High School, Tuscarora High School, Gov. Thomas Johnson High School and Middletown High School's Special Education Departments out to our course thanks to help from a grant. The kids had such a great experience team building, they sent us "Thank You" cards in appreciation.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Qualities of Leadership

As a small business owner with a team building company, I frequently contemplate my leadership roll. Over the years I have had many employees, facilitators and even clients out at the ropes course who have looked at me as more than just a boss or the leader of a team building exercise. I become their mentor. While sometimes that leadership roll can feel overwhelming, I try to bear that honor graciously knowing that my leadership skills can help others which is a truly rewarding experience.

What makes a successful leader? In my opinion, it is the ability to empower others. "All for one and one for all" the cliché goes. A well functioning team like a sports team does its best when individuals
work together as a group instead of in isolation. And as I look around, I see more and more isolation in society. We isolate in our homes never knowing our next door neighbors. We isolate in our social life using Facebook to stay in touch with "friends" over phone calls or going out to lunch. And we can isolate at work staying in our cubicle or if we telecommute at our desk in the basement.

As a leader of many different groups, it is my responsibility to draw people out, get them to open up and shine. I was inspired by Deepak Chopra's book The Soul of Leadership: Unlocking Your Potential for Greatness . He uses the acronym L.E.A.D.E.R.S. to layout the skills he believes necessary for a successful leader. These are skills that I try to use every day at my ropes course to inspire people to come out of their shells, participate as a group and feel the power that a well function group of individuals can have.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Extreme Teamwork

This 25-person drum corps from Switzerland is an amazing example of extreme teamwork. Take a look at this performance. It's a great example of what a group of humans can accomplish as a dedicated team. While we don't use drums on our ropes course, we do work on group dynamics to get your team working in synchronicity. Knowing what and when to do it takes hard work and can't be learned overnight to get it right.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Never be Afraid to try Something New at the Ropes Course

What an inspirational story of a man who was born without legs and arms. Yet despite this, nothing stops him from living life to the fullest. Take a page from his book next time you are at our ropes course in Buckeystown Maryland and you feel the butterflies in your stomach. Don't be scared. Just stretch your wings and fly.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Team Building Joke Tuesday - Ziplining

Of course at Upward Enterprises we operate REAL zip lines and we promise the only electricity you will feel will be from your own excitement.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Team Building Should be Every Day, Not Just a Once a Year Event

Most of the groups that come out to our ropes course for team building, we only see once a year. As great as we are of facilitating a team building event, I always encourage our groups to come out for a series of events. Why? Because team building should not be once a year event. You have a group that needs to function as a team every day and that needs constant attention. Coaches, bosses or group leaders need to foster open communication, diffuse conflicts amongst group members and encourage the group to rely on each others strengths to help the group accomplish its goals.

Most clients that leave our course are energized by the end of the day but that energy might fade without re-enforcement. I'd encourage monthly meetings to keep the bond and energy going that was created on the ropes course. Those meeting can be any thing from a catered lunch around a conference table to keep the lines of communication open to coming out to our ropes course quarterly for a few hours just to have fun and ride our zip line canopy tour. At Upward Enterprises we offer SDI evaluations and portable desktop events at your location. Keep your team strong, successful and cohesive with regular team bonding events.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Company Picnic at Smokey Glen Farm with UEI

Next week, April 2, 2013 is the annual Smokey Glen Farm Trade Fair. It was originally going to be this week but with the cold weather, they decided to postpone the event. Upward Enterprises has had a long and rewarding relationship with Smokey Glen. It's a great picnic facility and we highly recommend Jim Sweet and his staff to put on a memorable event for you group.

For over 10 years, UEI has been the exclusive operator of the double zip line at the Pavilion. We also offer portable rock climbing wall rental as an additional event. We can even bring our portable team building program out to Smokey Glen. The Trade Fair is always a fun day, where we get to meet our old clients and hopefully make new ones. We will have the zip and wall running for you to test your adventurous side while Smokey Glen will have the barbecues fired up to serve samples of their delicious food.

So come out if you can to meet Clive and the staff at Upward Enterprises. The crew will be out there from 10am to 1pm. Yum, I can smell the chili and hot dogs cooking now!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NCAA Tournament Madness or Team Building Opportunity?

Even if you aren't a basketball fan, most people have heard of the NCAA men's basketball tournament otherwise know as "March Madness". 45% of Americans plan on watching some of the tournament and/or participating in an group pool to pick the winner. For the first week of the tournament most of the action occurs during office hours. Employers can either get upset at this unproductive time employee spend to follow the games or take a different approach and embrace the madness.

Here at Upward Enterprises we always like to encourage fun ways organizations can build camaraderie. Its something we do every day at our ropes challenge course. The NCAA tournament won't be at our ropes course (oh well) but companies can use the NCAA tournament as a team building event that boosts moral among workers. And if your employees want to start an office pool, how about this great idea of skill swapping?  It sounds like a great way to get you know your fellow co-workers and isn't that part of what corporate team building is about?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

March, in like a Lion

As I work to prepare our ropes course in Buckeystown Maryland for the upcoming outdoor team building season which begins in full force the end of March, mother nature is here to remind us that winter is not yet gone. Tonight and tomorrow it is predicted that we will get anywhere from 8-14 inches of snow. Will this be another Snowmageddon like that occurred in 2010? If you do find yourself snowed in tomorrow, break out the Guinness and enjoy a little winter music. Enjoy the break while you can. I hear that by next Monday, the temperatures will be back up into the 50's and I will be back out at the course getting the canopy tour and high elements ready for your next event.

Antonio Vivaldi - Four Seasons Winter born on March 4th 1678

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Team Building Outside the Office

In most all business across the country, be white collar or blue collar, the push has been increasing worker productivity. Companies downsize and work intensifies for those still working there. And employers, focused on competition, might ignore the well-being of their employees. How much more can workers give before burnout will become overwhelming? Burnout can set in. Workers will disconnect from the group. Sick days will be used. As a manager, these should be warning signs that your biggest asset, your workers, are needing a break.

Maybe its time for an employee mental health day outside the workplace.

When a corporate group comes to Upward Enterprises for team building I always suggest they get away from the office and come to the ropes challenge course. Indoor table top team building has its benefits too but just getting away to a different environment changes perspectives, de-stresses employees and lets the group open up to connecting and trusting one another again. Strong teams are not built just at work alone. Take the trust building exercise "Leap of Faith" we do on the course. In the 20 years I have been teaching team building, I have found this activity to be the most empowering in opening the group up to think as a team again.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Challenging Yourself to go Outside your Comfort Zone

Have you seen this video by Kid President challenging grown-ups to take the path that leads to awesome and to not to give up? His message of pushing us not just to sit on the sidelines of life but to change up and do something different that can change our life and the lives of others. Remember, we are all on the same team of life.

This message resonates with what we try to achieve at the ropes course with every team building group. We encourage everyone to experience personal and group growth that can change lives.  "Boring is easy, stop being boring."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Little Team Building Humor

We always catch our clients when doing a trust fall team building exercise at Upward Enterprises. Maybe Dinosaur Office needs to hire Clive!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Anxiety of Fearfulness on the Ropes Course

One of the greatest challenges that I have found when working with team building clients is helping the organizer convince the adult participants not to be fearful of the ropes course experience.  Now I mention "adult participants" because with kids, I rarely have that problem of getting them to come out to the ropes course and try an activity, unless of course, their parents intervene by refusing to sign a standard waiver form because of their fear.

What is important to remember, is that Upward Enterprises follows the philosophy of "Challenge by Choice". The "Challenge by choice" philosophy of adventure programming allows the participant to have some autonomy related to the activities he or she participates in creating a safe environment. All participants have the right to say "no" to an event on the ropes course without the stigma of a loss of self worth. What we do at UEI when someone is fearful of an event is to have them participate in a way that is comfortable. For example, if the client has a fear of heights, we have them as cheer leaders on the ground.

Many times someone who indicated to me they were anxious over an event and considering not participating, changed their mind as they watch other in their group accomplish the task. When you push past the butterflies and pounding heart, great things can happen. That is what we see all the time at our team building ropes course. The possibility of what you and the group might accomplish will be transformational.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Dogs and Team Building

If you ever visited the Upward Enterprises office here you would be greeted by my two dogs, Jelly and Daisy. They usually keep me company as I work at my desk. You might have heard a bark in the background as we are talking on the phone together. That is them saying "hi".

As I was contemplating what to write in this week's blog, I looked down at Jelly sleeping behind my chair and thought that having a dog in the office has a calming effect. How does a dog's presence in an office effect workers? I did a quick internet search and found an interesting study done in 2010 at Central Michigan University by Christopher Honts and Matthew Christensen that posed the question: 
Could the presence of a canine in the workplace make people collaborate more effectively?
 They experimented with two groups - one with dogs underfoot and one without. As it turned out, their preliminary findings did show that there was indeed a difference in the way the two groups functioned. The group of workers who had dogs around them to pet and socialize with, proved to be more cohesive and trusting of their fellow team member. Could it be that the bond one feels when interacting with a pet be transferable to humans around resulting in workers also bonding? Interesting.

Companies such as Google, Ben and Jerry's and Proctor and Gamble's pet food division, let you bring your dog to work. And many presidents of the United States have pet dogs in the Oval Office. So, I am not alone in my thinking that pets have a place on the team. They build a special bond among humans without even uttering a word.