This Saturday (10/6/2012) the first year TI:GER students headed to north Georgia to participate in a team building ropes course at Berry College. This was an excellent opportunity for us to get away from campus/the classroom and get to know our team mates in a unique environment. The staff at Berry College is very versed in running team building and development programs using a blend of both "on the ground" activities as well as at heights up to 70 feet in the air. When we first arrived at Berry, we started with lunch. This allowed us to socialize with the class and with the facilitators that would be helping us out throughout the day. We were assigned bucket "lockers" that also doubled as our seats for the day.
After lunch we moved into large group activities. We played a few games to get our energy level up (squirrels vs dogs and a few other variations of extreme tag) and help get us loosened up for the more serious team building activities coming up. Following these events, and some basic introductions, we moved into our groups. As we were focused on team building throughout the day, these groups were based on our TI:GER teams. Below is a great shot of my team getting ready to crush some communication exercises!
These communication exercises involved one group (PhD, JD, or MBA) of team members to view a model of a statue (hula hoops and nerf balls) and communicate the design to another group. The second group would only hear the design and then communicate it to the third group who would have to recreate the statue. It was like a giant game of "technical" telephone and really showed some places where our communication as a team was strong and some areas where it needed improvement. After allowing one groupDue to a personal fear of heights, this was my favorite activity of the day!
After we finished the communication activities, we moved over to the low ropes course. Low ropes allow practice in team work and provide safety training. One member of the team would climb on an element (usually a tight rope or a series of tire swings) while the others served as spotters to make sure the up-member would be safe. This provided good practice for serving on the belay line later that afternoon.
Finally our day culminated with a climbing tower. This large structure had 3 different ways to ascend and we were (again) divided into teams to attempt to scale the tower. Two team members would go up on the tower at a time while the other three would control the belay cables that prevented falls or serious injury. This type of exercise truly builds trust and strengthens teams. You learn to appreciate the people that were making sure you didn't fall 70 feet!
In the end, it was a great day of team building and a lot of fun as well. In the week after Berry College, I can feel the difference in closeness among the teams. I can't wait to get started on the legal-focused classes the next few weeks at Emory and work on developing our product elevator pitch!