Last month, the entire HUB-BUB team spent a morning outside at GOLS (Glendale Outdoor Leadership School). The mission: team building.
In addition to the yearly entrance of four new artists-in-residence, this last year has been particularly full of change for HUB-BUB. Last June, Celia Cooksey took over as Executive Director of HUB-BUB from Betsy Teter. In January, I (Kari Jackson) started working 8 hours a week for HUB-BUB to help with online marketing and promotion. In February, longtime AiR Director Alix Refshauge left to get married and move to San Diego, so Cheryl Mirer moved here from Massachusetts in March to take over. Showroom Director Stephen Long has been the only constant–from the beginning of HUB-BUB, might I add.
So, we wanted to get sweaty and dusty and play games while bonding with each other and the new AiRs. Rebecca and Brad at GOLS were awesome, leading us through a series of challenges that made us communicate and find our strengths and weaknesses as a team. After each activity, we would have a debriefing, where each of us could share what we learned or observed about ourselves and our teammates and the way we work together.
One of the challenges was what I think was called the TP Challenge (though we kept trying to make it the “toilet paper” challenge, it was actually a telephone pole, of course). First, we had to line up in order of birthday month. Without touching the ground.
We executed this challenge so efficiently, according to our facilitator Rebecca, that she had us do it again, this time by height.
Another fun activity was “Tank and Commander,” where one person had to be in the ring, blindfolded in crab position, as the tank, while their partner directed them by voice only to find balls and throw at other tanks to cripple and eventually destroy them. Rather a violent team building exercise, no? And also really hard on your arms if you got hit and had to try to be a crab/tank on only one arm.
One challenged involved using two boards to cross shark-infested waters and get to the other side. Amanda, Stephen, and I each fell off this time and were blindfolded. But our teammates got us across without being eaten by sharks.
We also had to walk in sync on these ski things. Quite the challenge when you’ve got varying sizes of legs.
There were a number of other challenges in the four hours we were there, but the final one was another involving boards and small landing spots surrounded by sharks or molten lava.
What did we learn? We learned that we’re an amazing team (Rebecca and Brad said so), as we flew through the entire course without any moments of panic or drama or anger or tension. We got through the challenges with laughter, trust, balance, and communication. We learned that it helps to look ahead to see what future challenges may be in order to make the best decisions every day. We learned that everyone has the ability and willingness to help the other and the team as a whole.
Of course it’s not as easy to put those lessons into practice in the office. It’s a work in progress, particularly when you have only three full-time staffers running an arts organization, AiR Program, and gallery and performance hall. Things won’t always be as fun or seemingly easy as lining up by birthday on a telephone pole, but we do it, and we do it through communication and trust.
How do we look as a team, friends? Do we have good form? Please share your comments about team building, communication, or how we can better work together to provide opportunities and experiences for you in Spartanburg.