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The Outback Challenge!

Imagine this: Your team at office has been assigned a very unlikely task - to scale a respectably difficult hillock, to pitch in tents there and then of course, the little matter of cooking up your dinner there. Needless to say, there are no "learn-pitching-your-tent-in-7-easy-steps" manual or modern irritants like gas stoves to bother you there. How would you and your team fare?

If yours is a team that:
• Does not fancy conventional team engagement activities......
• Thinks that it has possibly seen it all......
• Has the attitude to say, "Bring it ON!"...... and fancies the outdoors......

We have just the right kind of team engagement activity in mind for you! Here is the story of one such team we were fortunate to encounter:

The brief we closed on, after a few rounds of discussions with the leaders of this group was, "We Sink or Swim Together". The team was from a R&D function, which quite often had to confront disappointments and failures due to projects being shelved at the last minute. The broad idea was for them to leave all their baggage behind and undergo an experience that was unique, challenging and one that would foster a sense of "we are all in this together" amongst the team members.

The challenge we threw to the team of 30 people, was a "The Outback Challenge!" created in the form of an arduous trek to the top of a mountain, 4700 feet above sea level. The challenge involved about 5 hours of trekking, after which the team had to pitch up their own tents and spend a night with limited resources and absolutely no comforts. With a clear mandate to keep the difficulty level high, the experience was not just a "walk-in-the-park" kind of trekking up the hills but a truly challenging one. Nature conspired to raise the difficulty level a notch up - by joining in with very unseasonal rains - so strong that the team had to stand still & hold on to each other as one long human chain!

The terrain was challenging: it was around 6kms to the camping site at the top of the hillock, and when you consider that most of this, was either uphill or downhill – this wasn’t an easy task by any means. In a mountainous course, there were of course no boundaries or walls to hold on to, which meant - one trip, slip or skid could have been very dangerous for not just one person but also others walking behind in line. There were additional challenges that made this tough trek, an even tougher one:
• Teams were to carry their own equipment (Tent, sleeping bag, change of clothes, toiletries, water bottles etc.);
• Each team was given scarce resources - even essentials like drinking water, food etc. was in measured quantities

The idea was to peg the whole experience at a level that stretched people well beyond their comfort zones and called them to dig deep into their reserves, to be able to conquer it. Should the team succeed, it would be a euphoric & eureka moment for them.

Like in all FOCUS programs though, safety was a priority. Hence teams were split keeping in mind the physical fitness of the team members. Each team had at least 1-2 members who had trekked in the past and knew the challenges it offered. To cut a long story short, the team - despite its apprehensions when starting, successfully conquered the challenge together, leaving all the members awash with euphoric delight, a shared sense of achievement and a lasting team memory.

Did the workshop meet its objectives? Did the experience help in increasing the cohesiveness within the team? Let's look at the evidence:
• We witnessed some extra ordinary examples of care and concern for the team members as they faced adversities.
• The people who walked fast were seen walking back to the team members who walked slowly. They even encouraged them and at times gave them support to climb at steep terrains.
• Some team members were seen carrying two or even three bags to ease the burden of their teammates who had difficulties walking with any luggage.
• Water that was scarce, was readily shared with people who needed it more.
• The people walking in front constantly warned the people walking behind about the plausible dangers such as thorns, slippery rubble etc.

The best part was that, once the challenge was accepted - nobody complained. The positive spirit and free humour amongst the team members helped them make light of their situation. The less fit amongst the team had a tremendous self-realization about their low fitness levels, but never gave up - so as not to stall the team. All in all, it was a very inspiring team experience.

The trek gave participants an opportunity to learn about themselves in a way that is only possible when they are tested to their limits in a challenging and unfamiliar environment. As Sir Edmund Hillary rightly said, "You don't really conquer a mountain. You only conquer yourself".

Would you want us to put together a bespoke experience like this for your team? Contact us today!

Download the Outback Challenge One Pager


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