For a retreat based in Colorado, we were given the directive to produce a “Once in a Lifetime Adventure” by a Silicon-Valley tech company who was looking to celebrate a significant milestone at their annual company retreat with their distributed team.
We selected a remote ranch in Southern Colorado as the base for the retreat, the red cliffs, canyons and rugged terrain forming the backdrop. Bringing together the organization’s diverse team of 71 employees scattered over 15 countries across 5 continents for a week of town hall meetings, memorable meals and action-packed unique team building activities for the ultimate American experience.
5 Non-Traditional Ideas for your Next Company Retreat
Between group meetings, department led strategy sessions, team building and optional activities, the agenda was peppered with American stereotypes, an abundance of all American classic cuisine, and a welcome reception and farewell dinner to rival all others.
If you're interested in understanding our thought process behind our we structure our retreat agendas, check out our past blog post detailing an example of a company retreat agenda.
1. Create a Themed Welcome Reception
After a day of traveling, we settled everyone into the secluded Gateway Canyons resort for a relaxed afternoon. The resort seamlessly blends the tranquility of the expansive landscapes with their rustic chic interiors and their onsite full-service adrenaline inducing adventure center - making it the perfect spot to host this year’s company retreat.
As the sunset on the first day, it was time to kick up the action as we welcomed everyone to the custom-built Rodeo Reception. In an isolated area in the southwest corner of Colorado, we recreated a rodeo from scratch. Using an open plot of land we plowed an arena, brought in railings, animal pens and livestock, over and above food, lighting, seating, ablutions and generators.
The evening unfolded with a series of activities including a mechanical bull, roller-roper lasso, quick draw challenge using infrared guns, a live rodeo with bull riding and horse showcase. A 4-piece country rock band entertained whilst the group feasted on a pig-on-the-spit.
2. Plan Non-Traditional Team-Building | Epic Outdoor Laser Tag Game
Starting the day with a welcome presentation and group breakout sessions followed by a Tex-Mex lunch before the group suited up for an elaborate game of “Operation Enduring Freedom”. This epic and unique team building activity was no ordinary game of laser tag, it was a detailed tournament involving tripwires, smoke-bombs, paintball grenades and even a helicopter.
We undertook the mammoth task of once again custom building each team a base camp, creating personalized camouflage coveralls and ghillie suits. This one-of-a-kind capture the flag style wargame was designed to ensure teams were forced to rely on strategy and team coordination for their gameplay as opposed to just running out into the field guns blazing!
The group was divided up into teams with each team member having a designated role and associated equipment and tools - general, medic, sniper, engineer, heavy weapon specialists. Teams were sent off to their base camp to devise a strategy for 30 minutes before the onslaught (game) began.
Leveraging the full expanse of Gateway Canyons we scattered a few curveballs around the resort. Caches filled with surprises that could help teams get a slight advantage like calling in airdrops but we also strategically placed tripwires activating traps throughout the battlefield.
Pulling this off was no easy feat, enlisting 26 staff to coordinate a detailed schedule, an elaborate system of timed check-ins and staying in constant contact using walkie-talkies. But ultimately the Navy Seals beat out the Green Berets at capturing the flag.
The day of activities wasn’t over yet. For dinner the group gathered for a Tailgate dinner in the resorts private auto-museum, that had everyone tasting their way through the past century. The night was closed out with some informal pub Olympics.
3. Plan a Relaxing Event | Themed Food Contests and Stargazing
Once again the morning kicked off with a series of dynamic meetings followed by a traditional American picnic and chili eating contest on the resort lawns. After yesterday’s intense day of games, the pace was slowed to allow everyone an opportunity to relax, mingle with their colleagues, catch up on work or sign up for one of the many outdoor activities offered at the resort.
4. Offer a Adrenaline-Pumping Team Building Activity | Off-Road Jeep Safaris or Helicopter Rides
A morning of meetings and a team lunch were followed by an afternoon of optional activities that ranged from Jeep explorations and guided hikes to scenic helicopter rides. With the week nearing an end it was time to turn up the heat at the farewell finale that was inspired and themed after the legendary Burning Man.
5. Plan a Special Farewell Party to End the Company Retreat
The group was shuttled to, what was just a few hours prior an empty expanse of land now transformed into, an intimate Burning Man event. Tucked away under the clear starlight sky surrounded by red canyon cliffs this magical area dressed with Teepees, lounge furniture, string lighting and the company logo projected onto the presiding monolith. Steampunk accessories and costumes were provided for the attendees whilst specially tailored menus featuring glow in the dark cupcakes and incandescent cocktails enhanced the theme.
Dazzled with incredible entertainment from all around the region (some as far as Las Vegas). Staggered performances from fire performers, contortionists, acrobats and a DJ. Just as they do at Burning Man the event culminated in the final act of igniting the main art installation - the client’s logo. Capping off a week of extraordinary events and experiences.
The benefit of periodically coming together for face-to-face interactions, putting a face to the usernames and bonding over a shared once in a lifetime experience is invaluable. Ready to start planning your unique company retreat? Get in touch!