Teachable Moments in the Wilderness

Algonquin Provincial Park 2008
Credit: flickr / Eyeline-Imagery

I was not excited about the mandatory work trip to the wilderness for a number of reasons:

  1. It is completely incomprehensible to me to drive that far just for two days.
  2. I have no desire to sleep in a tent. There is a reason why inside and beds were invented.
  3. We have a lot to do and our team are getting on fine – why spend two days “team building” when we could be getting on with stuff?

Everyone was of course teasing the British girl who was scared of the wilderness (you know there are bears?!) but it was just funny because I was never actually that freaked out, I just wouldn’t have gone out of choice – and wasn’t going to stay longer than I had to (or sleep in a tent). In fact, when we had to put on a skit, my team put one on about my hatred of the wilderness and at the end I kung fu’d a bunch of beavers. My teammate played me – and I was completely fine with that. As long as it’s funny, it’s OK with me.

But despite coming home (of course) with multiple injuries (a twisted ankle and an unexplained but extremely painful hip injury) and covered in bug bites. I actually got a lot out of it.

I missed the internet, of course, but being disconnected wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Also, I got to spend time with a bunch of people who I really like.

The team building activities were actually quite interesting – sometimes additional information/material is a distraction. Sometimes the best solution uses everything you’ve been given. Sometimes it uses something extra that hasn’t been included, but hasn’t been excluded either. Sometimes you need a single leader. Sometimes everyone needs to contribute. Sometimes the person watching will have the clearest idea of what’s going on.

Finally, there was the mock trial for the interns who had been two hours late. Their reaction to the result of this did not reflect well on them – I got increasingly frustrated and bored as they complained, endlessly, about poor directions and lack of GPS. Eventually, the guy in charge laid down the law about timeliness and respect – I think everyone got the message. He saw a teachable moment and he took it; I liked and respected him for it.

Mistakes I thought they made:

  • We’re well paid, so just rent a GPS if it matters so much – it’s not important. Complaining about $20 comes across as petty.
  • Moderate drinking at an event like this is probably OK, but don’t get hammered the first night.
  • Own your mistakes. Apologizing for being late and going along with what was laid down would have made things end much sooner. Blaming everyone else and pretending blamelessness did not endear sympathy to their cause.

So – in all, not awful. In fact aside from the injuries it was kinda refreshing. But would I go back? I think I’d rather go to a spa and turn my phone off instead.

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