There has been a continuing relationship between business and outdoor pursuits. Many of the skills that are learnt whilst surviving in the wilderness can be transferred into the work place to make it a more efficient working environment. Many companies will send their employees on team building exercises in order to enhance social relations and define roles within teams. Just taking the employees out of their natural work place and into the natural environment can be in itself a major first step.
The difficult task in all of these initiatives is to get the participators to fully accept the aims of the day. An initial reaction from the group can be one of suspicion, and this type of negative attitude is one that may stop the participators from gaining anything worthwhile from the experience. Specialist companies have now been created to set up events for different businesses. Team Spirit in the UK has been organizing conferences, events and team building courses for businesses since 1993. The company now employs 80 people and its past clients have included Heinz, e-on and Costa. The aim is to use teamwork activities to promote engagement and communication through the delegate’s active participation.
A good example is the Thames Rib Adventure. This involves the delegates powering and down the River Thames in London in rigid inflatable boats. They are then given a number of tasks to complete both on the land and on the water. Another popular event is the Country Pursuits where the activities include sheep shearing, falconry, quad biking and laser clay pigeon shooting. The participation in these events is once again about building the groups team spirit. Another way that companies have taken advantage of outdoor recreation is to send many of its staff on outward bounds course. The skills that are learnt while the courses are being undertaken in the wilderness include self-awareness, communication skills, and self-management.
The centres located in the Scottish Highlands, Lake District and Snowdonia are used so that the delegates are able to take advantage of the wilderness. Rivers need to be crossed, hill sides need to be climbed and vast distances need to be navigated and walked, as the groups attempt to complete their expeditions.
This will often see them staying overnight in the great outdoors and just the simplest tasks such as cooking for each other, are great ways to promote the skills that that can be developed in the future back in their companies.The Outward Bounds Trust now has produced a Corporate Development program for companies to take advantage of. The response from groups such as HSBC the National Grid and Airbus shows how importantly these companies view the importance of the character building exercises that are being learnt in the great outdoors.
It was the German Kurt Hahn back in the 1930s who first identified the importance of educating the mind with the body. It is interesting that still today many of the country’s leading companies share the same philosophy, and certainly today most graduates entering big companies will be expected to partake in some type of course, similar to the ones on offer at the Outward Bounds Trust. Outdoor recreation creates strong minds and helps to fully develop people’s personality.