Tips & Trends
Adventure Outings in the Pacific Northwest
The Bond of Adventure
People who play together, stay together. True in families and true in teams, when it comes to forging bonds between coworkers, nothing tops sharing a fun experience. Any company event can increase job satisfaction, provide team-building exercises, and bring employees closer together. Make it an adventure outing and add even more value to the event! Adrenaline and magnificent vistas bring people together, breaking the boundaries of office and cubicle with big skies and big fish (or stories). Companies located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest can use the bounty of nature to grow human resources.
Adventure retreats are a great way to build rapport with customers and employees. They can serve as rewards for good performance or as training to promote good performance in the future. Above all, adventures are a chance for people to get to know one another at a personal level. Whether for hours or days, company retreats and outings take the daily business interactions into a new environment. While sharing a thrilling outdoor adventure some unexpected insights can be made regarding communication, cooperation, and consideration between team members.
These outings are also an effective method for companies to woo clients or potential hires, creating an informal setting in which to discover interests and qualifications. Adding an element of adventure to the event can draw out hidden or exceptional qualities in participants, making retreats excellent tools for testing candidates. Likewise, the chosen setting and activities demonstrate a company’s values, vision, and corporate culture.
Adventurous events are a chance to build up a company’s branding, both interior and exterior. Employees get to truly experience how their company identifies itself. The difference between a black-tie dinner symposium and a black-flag ski retreat are obvious. Does your company choose experiences that build confidence, or challenges that use confidence? A company’s image can be strongly communicated through choice of employee retreat. Happily, the Pacific Northwest offers many choices for adventure outings and team-building events.
Adventure Dynamics is an outdoor venue that understands the importance of shared interests and company image. This Spokane-area business endeavors to create a challenging environment of activities that promote courage, commitment, teamwork, and leadership, all built on the foundations of Christian faith. These foundations present a message and a bond as participants soar through the sky on a zip line or help each other through a team oriented confidence course. Companies identifying with Christian morals can enjoy the team-building benefits of an established bond of common faith. Employees can simply enjoy the fun.
Thrilling tree-top tours to get the blood pumping are a very popular group activity. The inspiring natural landscapes available in this part of the country make these aerial excursions a slam-dunk for enjoyment and back-slapping good times. Canopy Tours Northwest is located near Seattle, and offers a reasonably paced tour across six different zip lines. Accessible to all degrees of adventurous spirit, the tour features expert guides and short nature walks for a closer look at the glorious forest. Another great zip line company is Mica Moon Zip Tours, outside Spokane on the Idaho border. Featuring eight lines between high tree-top platforms, Mica Moon provides special rates and options for corporate team building events. Plus, what other zip line sends you over an old moonshine distillery?
Fantastic views are not the only way to use adventure outings to reward or bolster success. Many companies use action outings to promote healthy competition and hone worker skills, encouraging participants to strive for their best performance in order to best their peers. Team building at these businesses provides a neutral place for employees to learn how to strive to top each other without creating a tense workplace.
K-1 Speed and Traxx Racing are two venues that combine the velocity of zip lines with the classic competition of racing. K-1 Speed is a nationwide indoor go-kart business. Team building on the track at 40 mph is intended to boost comradery and group loyalty through team vs. team activities such as The Ball Challenge, The Blindfold Challenge (at safely controlled speeds), and a Pit Crew Challenge designed to get employees working together efficiently and effectively. Traxx Racing north of Seattle has options for non-competitive race formats, as well as a Pit Crew Challenge. Trophies and medals are awarded for top performers, both of which will look nice on your desk. Traxx Racing also has a climbing wall, video game arcade, and other games for general mingling. Catering at both places is taken care of on-site, and bragging rights are free with victory.
Speaking of victory, if you love the smell of paint in the morning, hold your team-building event at KC Crusaders Paintball. If your group is ready to really work as a team or else suffer the consequences, paintball is the company retreat for you. There is no better melding of competition and cooperation. Small group tactics, leadership, loyalty, bravery, and integrity are just a few team-oriented skills that will mean the difference between glory and welts.
Learning skills together is a proven bonding technique, but many corporate skill building events can run to the dull. For an educational experience like no other, visit DirtFish Professional Rally Driving School. More than just a recreational venue, DirtFish produces racers, competes in events across North America, designs rally cars…and hosts company skill building retreats. It is every bit as amazing as it sounds. Located on the site of a century-old lumber mill in Snoqualmie, Washington, DirtFish is a wildly successful experiment in repurposing a vast tract of forest land. The entire property can be rented out for huge events, and is frequently the site of filming for the Discovery Channel and such shows as Top Gear. DirtFish rally driving involves co-drivers, and learning how to work together to pull off slippery stunts. To show the value of a co-driver, DirtFish also puts you riding shotgun with a veteran rally driver in their Thrill Ride activity. Sliding around gravel corners at high speed really accelerates cohesive teamwork.
“Pulling together as a team” takes its origin from rowing, so it is no surprise that rafting and kayaking are common destinations for teambuilding adventure retreats. Orion Expeditions is a white water rafting business with courses for all skill levels. Events take place on rivers throughout the Northern Cascades near Leavenworth, Seattle, or Mt. Rainier. Groups will paddle over crashing waves and emerge as teams, equally soaked and triumphant.
If paddling over waves sounds fun, but paddling between rocks doesn’t, consider a company retreat sea kayaking in the amazing San Juan Islands. Coworkers will enjoy the satisfaction of self-propulsion, working together in teams of two. Wildlife watching, sunsets, night paddling, and an array of trip lengths keep these destinations appealing to all, without competition or high speeds. Multi-day trips are possible for a long retreat, adding campfire stories to the bonding experience. Discovery Sea Kayaks, Outdoor Odysseys, and Shearwater Kayak Tours on Orcas Island are three notable businesses offering this adventure setting near Vancouver, Washington.
Discovery Sea Kayaks is a proud small company, providing a personalized touch and trips designed specifically for your group. Guides are experienced and long-term employees who will work to ensure a quality experience at a competitive rate. Group size is kept to eight or under, making this a good choice for intimate bonding. Outdoor Odysseys offer many trip times as well, with two-, three-, and four-day excursions. Food, wine, and beer feature prominently in their special packages, bringing a touch of class to the happy exhaustion at the end of a day of paddling. Finally, Shearwater Kayak Tours is an impressive operation on Orcas Island with multiple launch locations, partnerships with local businesses, and a history of leading groups across the water for over thirty years. Three-hour day tours are Shearwater’s claim to fame, making this a good choice for beginning kayakers and those who wish to see the beaches of Orcas Island—but don’t wish to sleep on them.
Rewarding employees and hosting clients in the beauty of the Northwest doesn’t have to include exercise. There are many options for viewing nature without being knee deep in it. These locations are good for a group with mixed physical abilities, and for meetings or outings where folks don’t want to get dirty and do want to converse. Orcas Island Trail Rides provides a day-trip horseback experience, riding through Moran State Park. The great thing about this destination is that everyone will learn how to ride together. The guides can accommodate up to eight people. Orcas Island Eclipse Charters and Deer Harbor Charters offer whale watching tours around the San Juan Islands, leaving from Orcas Island. Destiny Harbor Tours offers 1 to 2 hour excursions in the southern waters of the Puget Sound with tours leaving Tacoma and Gig Harbor, they now have a new vessel under the Riviera Cruises banner that can explore other waterways such as Lake Washington for a SeaFair or Blue Angles excursions. Take advantage of the splendor of the Washington coast and its beautiful waters to impress potential clients, orient new-hires, and give employees something to talk about around the water cooler. Photo opportunities allow participants to bring the trip back to the office, prolonging the positive effects of an adventure outing.
Wooing clients and rewarding employees sometimes requires communicating a sense of true accomplishment and exclusivity. After all, if the message is “you’re the best,” shouldn’t the retreat reflect that? At Rivers Inlet Sportsman Club on the coast of British Colombia, an exclusive atmosphere is built in, as it is only reachable by plane or boat. Amazing fishing tours, guides, and facilities make this a perfect three-day business social or prize for top performance. Rivers Inlet Sportsman Club is a trophy salmon fishing lodge with whale watching and nature views included in every activity. Privacy in the rugged B.C. wilderness makes this a prime spot for fishing enthusiasts. Canyon River Ranch and Red’s Fly Shop offer fishing as well, in a more accessible locale. Sprawling along the Yakima River, this venue is perfect for sport-loving teams. Archery, clay pigeon shooting, birding, horseback riding, and fishing all in one place means something for everyone.
Choosing a catch-all location for an adventure outing has many benefits. People of all ages, interests, and physical prowess can be included, which is usually the point of these outings. Team-building requires the whole team, and a company outing needs to be fun or else it won’t succeed in a lasting way. Mountain Springs Lodge provides such a variety of activities, with the notable addition of fun in the snow. This lodge accommodates adventures year-round. Snow machine tours atop peaks, sleigh rides, and snowman building competitions will bring your working family closer together during the dark days of Pacific Northwest winter. With horseback riding, fishing, rafting, hiking, zip lines, and pretty much everything found at other venues, it is hard to go wrong with an excursion to Mountain Springs Lodge. Another good variety destination is Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg, Idaho. Skiing, snowboarding, golf, and gondola rides accentuate the beauty of the Northwest, while allowing different levels of physical commitment. Don’t care to go outside? Silver Mountain Resort has the Northwest’s largest indoor waterpark, allowing your employees to really act like children.
Cascade Playtime has a great collection of high octane, multi-purpose fun. Located in the Snoqualmie area of Washington, this destination boasts jet-ski and snowmobile action, depending on the season. Cle Elum Lake provides the setting for boating, jet skiing, and kayaking. During snowy months, Cascade Playtime offers unguided snowmobile rentals. Take the team out for a tour across the groomed trails at your own speed, stopping for group snow-angels or drag racing. Yes, performance snowmobiles are available with a damage deposit, so adrenaline can be included in these deals. In the summer months, pontoon boats and kayaks on Cle Elum Lake bring relaxing options to the table. Of course, group rates are available for jet ski outings, so if your office simply must have a high heart rate to be productive, Cascade Playtime is a good adventure venue year-round.
Evergreen Escapes is a premier corporate outing and general escape company located along the cascade coast from California up through British Colombia. Focused on natural splendor and customer service, these pros will design your retreat or team-building adventure for you, with a promise to make it memorable and unique. Offering fresh air and fine wine, Evergreen Escapes can serve as a casual reward or business meeting locale, or this company can forge a truly customized team building experience. They will work with you prior to the outing to determine your company goals for the excursion, and they follow up afterward to cement the lessons learned. Real adventures are used to communicate workplace improvements, rather than the traditional trust falls or human pyramids. Evergreen Escape artists will show your people how to translate a river rafting or hiking adventure into a plan of action at the office.
Finally, for a well-developed focus on adventurous company team-building, the destination of choice is Adventura Aerial Adventure Park. Located in Woodinville, WA, this venue has dozens of specially designed events and activities specifically for corporate growth and employee development. The Station Race involves picking diverse teams and dividing challenges according to each member’s personal strengths. The True Colors Workshop explores individual preferences for communication and cooperation, and comes in beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels of participation. Calling the Adventure Park a confidence course does not do justice to the efforts of these experienced team-building coaches. True, many of the events require wearing a harness, but being tied to each other brings a new meaning to employee bonding. This is a destination for companies wishing to really educate and develop employees at all levels. The workshops are fun, the climbing wall is a challenge, the atmosphere is honest and down-to-earth. Finally, no mention of Adventura is complete without highlighting the Build a Boat challenge. Yes indeed, teams build boats out of rubbish and cellophane, and then test their engineering and cooperative skills in a race on (or in) the water!
Team building is vital to companies wishing to grow apace with the business world, and these venues offer adventurous settings to get brains cranking and muscles moving. Too often, though, the experience is left at the park and old habits slip back into place. To cement the lessons learned, ensure that there is someone in the office to carry the ball forward once the last line is zipped and the last fish is caught. Bring photos to work, display trophies, send memos, and test the strength of newly forged bonds. Just don’t start a paintball war in the lounge.