Team-building activities are a great way to break the monotony of meetings and conferences while creating deeper ties between attendees and co-workers. For anyone looking for fresh ideas on how to enrich their meeting experiences, here are five innovative activities guaranteed to keep your attendees talking for years to come.
Pocono Whitewater Rafting
Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
Nestled in the densely wooded Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, Pocono Whitewater Rafting encourages team building through action-packed adventure. In addition to whitewater rafting excursions, this popular outfitter offers more than 30 miles of scenic bike trails as well as a world-class 750-acre paintball facility.
Although the team-building program follows a similar format as regular rafting trips, corporate groups can supplement their experience with staff-led discussions and teamwork activities, such as raft races with water guns. One of the most popular games is a communication activity in which everyone in the raft except the captain is blindfolded, and the group must follow the captain’s directions to navigate toward a floating object in the water.
“If you don’t work together when you’re on a raft, then you’ll never get down the river,” said Terry Breslin, one of the company’s lead facilitators. “We try to give people some helpful hints. If they get out there and wipe out on their first attempt, we’ll pull everyone aside and ask them what happened, what could we do better to communicate, etc.”
Afterward, the facilitator often conducts an awards ceremony, giving out titles like MVP or Person Most Likely To Be a River Guide. The group can then gather around a fire pit by the river to enjoy some food and drinks.
Meeting groups can also take advantage of Skirmish Paintball, which spans a diverse terrain of fields, woods and creeks, and is an excellent setting for team-building games like Capture the Flag. Groups can opt for the Battles and Paddles combination package to enjoy the best of both paintball and rafting activities.
Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park
Tahoe City, California
Meeting planners can take team building to new heights at Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park, an aerial adventure facility just behind Granlibakken Resort in the beautiful waterfront city of Tahoe City, California. The century-old Granlibakken Resort provides a wonderful wooded retreat for meeting groups at its all-inclusive Lake Tahoe Conference Center, which can accommodate groups of four to 400 with nearly 24,500 square feet of space.
The aerial adventure park caters to all ages and athletic abilities with 10 different courses, 97 tree platforms, 27 zip lines and more than 60 aerial obstacles. Over the course of two and a half hours, groups can push their limits as they take on rope swings, moving bridges, tightropes, swinging logs, climbing logs and more.
Tahoe Treetops has been leading bonding and team-building activities for almost 20 years, encouraging corporate groups to take a break from the boardroom and explore the dynamics of leadership, communication and problem-solving in a natural setting. The team-building program begins with a safety briefing and several low-to-the-ground events to lay the foundation for teamwork and trust. Afterward, participants can choose their own course based on the level of difficulty with which they feel comfortable.
Groups can take advantage of other team-building activities at the facility, such as snowshoe tours during the winter and a team orienteering class on how to navigate in the wilderness using a map and compass. During the Search and Discover program, groups break into teams and use a compass to navigate the woods in search of different stations with specific tasks and challenges.
Escape Game Dallas
Meeting planners can leave their attendees talking for years to come with a trip to one of the nation’s best escape game facilities. Based in Grapevine, Texas, Escape Game Dallas is the eighth location for the Nashville-based company and one of the top-tier escape rooms in the industry, providing the perfect off-site activity for those attending a meeting or conference at the Grapevine Convention Center.
“Our games are excellent for team-building activities because they force everyone to work together to accomplish a singular goal,” said Max Magura, marketing manager at Escape Game. “Not only are they bonding in that way, but you really have a chance to learn about your coworkers based on how they interact in the room and what puzzles they go after. We’ve had somebody actually come in before and use the games as a hiring process to see if somebody was a fit for their team.”
During the games, larger groups can split into teams of two to eight and choose one of four escape room challenges: Prison Break, Gold Rush, the Heist and Playground. Teams must work together to solve a series of puzzles and clues to “break out” of the room before the one-hour time limit. Each theme features different clues and obstacles with varying degrees of difficulty.
“When groups go in there, they’re really transported to another world,” said Magura. “The level of immersion we put into designing the atmosphere of our games is unreal.”
Sky Zone Trampoline Park
One of the leading brands of trampoline parks in the nation, Sky Zone Trampoline Park offers more than 200 locations in the United States. Meeting groups can take advantage of one of its newest facilities in the fantastic midsize destination of Lexington, Kentucky.
Lined wall to wall with trampolines of many shapes and sizes, this state-of-the-art adventure attraction features a dodgeball court, a freestyle jump area, basketball hoops, a foam pit and a course modeled after the obstacle courses on NBC’s hit show “American Ninja Warrior.” During their visits, guests can cheer on their friends as they attempt to navigate the Ninja Warrior course, practice their free throws on the sky-slam hoops or challenge their peers to an ultimate dodgeball tournament.
“Dodgeball is our No. 1 team-building activity,” said owner Chad Pannunzio. “It’s always fun to take out your secret aggressions on your co-workers.”
Meeting planners can use a spacious lounge area upstairs with big-screen TVs to host a meeting or bring in a catered meal. Though the park is easy to navigate on one’s own, Sky Zone staff can help facilitate certain activities, such as dodgeball competitions or Ninja Warrior races, as well as help stir up excitement among the players. Sky Zone Lexington also offers fitness classes called Sky Fit, which can be modified according to the needs of the group.
“We have people who come in who work out six times a week and people who haven’t worked out in six years, and they all leave smiling and sweaty,” said Pannunzio.
Watson Adventures’ Scavenger Hunts
Founded by Bret Watson, a veteran writer and stand-up comedian, Watson Adventures’ has worked with more than 2,000 corporations across the United States to organize fun, quirky and educational scavenger hunts in over 30 major cities. Though many scavenger hunts focus primarily on completing tasks, Watson Adventures adds more creative flair by posing tricky and humorous questions about different sites and items throughout a destination, challenging teams to solve clues and learn about local landmarks in the process.
For groups meeting outside the company’s designated locations, Watson Adventures offers Grab ’n’ Go Scavenger Hunts, which can be customized for any city. During this classic challenge, teams must race to achieve objectives such as finding three items that rhyme, choosing a trophy for the scavenger hunt victors and creating an amazing new food by combining two unlikely foods.
Team photos are another entertaining component of the game. Rather than taking numerous group shots of everyone standing and smiling in front of various landmarks, the photo challenges are often more humorous and creative approach, such as treating a staircase like a carnival ride or miming a superpower. Throughout the day, participants can upload the photos to the Watson Adventure sharing site so that teams can follow one another’s progress. Each player receives a link to all the photos at the end of the day as a souvenir.
Watson Adventure also helps facilitate several specialty events for indoor settings, such as a Trivia Slam and a Murder Mystery Mayhem Scavenger Hunt.