For most working professionals, the phrase “team-building event” triggers traumatic flashbacks to trust falls gone horribly wrong and painfully awkward games of charades. Good news: The three corporate bonding options we’ve compiled here are dynamic, innovative, and customizable, and they may be your best bet for a day of team building without those dreaded employee eye rolls.
Bret Watson, founder and president of Watson Adventures in Manhattan, was having a blast creating fun-filled museum scavenger hunts for friends when companies came knocking in 1999—they wanted to pay him to put their employees through the hunt.
Today, Watson Adventures has sent more than 200,000 people on scavenger hunts through historical landmarks, museums, and cities in Westchester and 18 other markets across the country. Teams hunt not for “things,” but for answers to questions (which are intended to be “tricky and humorous,” according to Watson’s website) about places or objects they encounter along the way. Teams are led by a “hunt host” and compete in challenges, solving riddles, or answering quirky questions about coworkers.
Says Chief Development Officer Julie Jacobs, “Each hunt brings out different skill sets—someone is good at reading the map, while another is good at solving puns or answering big-picture questions. What’s really interesting about team building in this environment is that the person who is naturally the leader at work isn’t necessarily the natural leader here. It’s really interesting to observe who takes the lead, and reflect on why they did so and how he or she led.”
Watson Adventures serves groups as small as five and as large as 500. Hunt lengths vary, but they typically last for two and a half hours. Watson Adventures has worked with an impressive list of clients, including AOL, Apple, Time Warner, Amazon, and O, The Oprah Magazine.
Hunts from $50 per person
(877) 946-4868; www.watsonadventures.com
Life: The Place to Be
Being a grown-up can get a little boring. Life: The Place to Be, a 29,000-square-foot special event facility in Ardsley with bowling lanes, a rock-climbing wall, a 3,000-square-foot arcade, laser tag, and plenty of plasma and projection screen TVs, offers team-building packages ideal for employees in need of a break from adulthood. Says owner Steven Zukerman, “Team-building events at Life are designed to be a fun, energizing experience outside the office.”
Events at Life run for two hours and can make use of any of the aforementioned facilities, plus there are options for catering, DJ entertainment, and even event photography. Feel free to pair your two-hour event with a luncheon or creative brainstorming session.
Group events from $34.50 per person
2 Lawrence St, Ardsley, (914) 591-4400; www.lifetheplacetobe.com
The Remarkable Race at Doral Arrowwood
It may not be a race around the world, but The Remarkable Race is sure to bring out the most “amazing” qualities in employees. (Forgive us—it’s based on the reality TV show, The Amazing Race.) Run by True North Team Building (team-building specialists based in Bethel, Connecticut), The Remarkable Race is held on the indoor and outdoor grounds of the Doral
Arrowwood Hotel Conference Center in Rye Brook.
Teams tackle challenges in order to move from one point to the next, and the challenges themselves are tailored to your business or to the theme or occasion of your outing. “A legal firm wanted to focus on their 50th anniversary, so we customized the race around the number 50,” says Cindy Crean, director of True North Team Building. True North also thought up trivia questions specifically related to the firm’s founders.
The race lasts for two to three hours and can accommodate groups as small as six and as large as 300. The True North team keeps programs new and fresh in order to meet the needs of big-name repeat clients, including Pepsi, Pfizer, MetLife, and IBM.
Pricing available upon request
975 Anderson Hill Rd, Rye Brook, (914) 417-4722; www.truenorthteambuilding.com/doral-arrowwood-remarkable-race