Awesome Company Cultures Don't Have Boring Corporate Retreats

September 15, 2015 Written by  Comments Print
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We are a very tight knit group, and we pride ourselves in maintaining a special and unique company culture. It was time for our quarterly company retreat, or greeNEWit Fun Day as we call it. Most people don’t get these, and for the few that do, they know this is usually meant for team building and uncovering major breakthroughs - hoorah!

Our goal for the day was similar, we wanted to thank our team for all the great work, facilitate an inspiring company culture and team environment with tons of take-aways and, all in all, elevate our team to the next level. And we wanting to accomplish this with something other than your standard corporate retreat. Storybook entrepreneurship stuff, right?

Have you ever heard the expression, “You don’t always get what you want, but sometimes, you might just get what you need.” It’s a cool song, you should listen to it! I don’t think there is a person on this planet that would want what we got this beautiful sunny Friday, but we got it.

We were about 45 minutes into a 3 hour hike in Patapsco Valley State Park in Ellicott City, Maryland. We had a full squad of 20+ people hiking through the woods, everything was awesome. We had just wrapped up an epic session on personal development. Tears were shed, privacy was shattered, we were grooving.

Then came the tougher part of the hike and this is where we planned to break into groups based on confidence level. Fulfilling the “team” mentality we discarded that idea of splitting up and all followed the same route, if you are a skier, you can consider it a black diamond, if you are not a skier, it’s hard!

As the leaders led the way and blazed a trail, some of the other leaders remained back and helped with the less confident members. As we hiked down a 50% grade slope, one of our less experienced hikers finds a flatter line and regains the confidence needed to remain committed to the path. Within seconds of finding the flatter more comfortable line on the mountain, she falls and hits the ground. No screaming, no shouting, just a calm steady tone which said, “I’m not good, I heard the pop. I definitely broke my ankle.”

I’ll start by saying that she was by far and away the strongest most courageous person on the mountain that day. As the reality set in that she was immobile, in the literal middle of steep rugged terrain, it was time to see what our team was really made of.

Not how fast we could execute on our operations, or how much profit we make, but straight up, honest to god teamwork. Our metal was to be tested.

Up or down..? Literally there was open debate between experienced hikers and all, do we use gravity or do we carry her back up the way that we came?

Most decisions are based on the information that you have, and if you don’t have enough, you have to find more. We had to find more information - swelling was coming on and we were out of bounds (another one for the skiers).

To the bottom was a railroad that runs through Historic Old Ellicott City, Maryland

 Old Ellicot City Railroad

I knew from living in the area that we had at least a mile if we made it down the remainder of the steep terrain until we would be anywhere a vehicle could meet us. What we didn’t know was how far we had to hike up to where a vehicle could access. Two people immediately took off to see exactly what we would be saying yes to if we decided that up was our only option.

All the while our injured teammate is as calm as can be and is (blew my mind) apologizing to us for getting hurt! She was concerned that she ruined the retreat but that seemed to be just the beginning…

Read Part 2 of our definitely not average company retreat to see how this story turns out...