We were told one morning that there would be a company retreat. It would be the first of its kind. Our boss had been reading motivational books and a retreat was mentioned as a must. You can’t take teambuilding seriously if you don’t make an effort to plan for special events during which discussion and participation would be central. Almost anything can happen on a retreat. The point is to get away from those ubiquitous computers and do something else—something useful that will impact and benefit employees long term. Many companies hire outside specialist to organize and run retreats. You pick the place, the date, and how many days will be allotted. Our boss had everything in hand and we anticipated a successful event. We expected to be surprised somewhat. All we knew was that we were a group in isolation from daily tasks and that our minds would be focused on teambuilding.
The retreat day arrived and we all drove to a nearby resort where they had private meeting rooms. The nice thing was that the meeting destination was on a lake. Water recreation was going to be featured, we had no doubt. One of the two days of the retreat would involve some time of water sports. We were divided into teams. One event had to do with rowing. Another with swimming certain distances during which we were timed. I was a bit nonplussed by the fact that there was a towable tube. I was put in charge of the things. It was a tough 26-gallon contraption covered with 420-denier nylon. The boss promised lasting fun. He said it will leave us breathless. My apprehension started to wane. There were two EVA pads topside that enhanced the enjoyable ride, plus pull-up straps to make boarding a cinch. I read the instructions and saw that the towable tube had 6 handles with knuckle guards, a quick-connect tow hook, and what is called a Boston valve. Two riders were easily accommodated at one time in the 70” tube. I now knew what I needed to know to get the event started.
After the other team water events, the tube was a bit different. We got in pairs and were given a number that indicated the order in which we would ride. The tube was filled with air by means of a high-pressure inflator. It turned out to be a gas! I had never done it before and it was truly phenomenal. It was the highlight of the retreat. When we got back to the office after the weekend was over, we praised the choice of location and water recreation competition. We admitted that friendly competition is good as long as jealousy doesn’t flare. Instead, it was about individual teams which parallels our structure at work. We felt we understood it better now in different contexts. We all wrote glowing reports to management. Teambuilding can take many forms, and our version was unusual and exciting. You can certainly have fun while you are learning new things.