Looking for a team-building exercise or postmeeting outing that will turn an everyday retreat into an extraordinary excursion? Try one of these options.
Building sandcastles isn’t only for kids—just ask Linda Norris, convention services manager for Travel Lane County. She participated in a sandy team-building session at a beach in Florence, Oregon, under the guidance of Lon Beale, owner of Sand Master Park. Beale and his team helped participants find just the right sand-towater ratio to fill the castle molds. “They were patient, fun and very good teachers,” says Norris. “Each person had their own creative idea to bring to life, and the team encouraged and assisted each other along the way.”
Sand Master Park is the world’s first park for sandboarding, which is like surfing on dunes. For the team that wants to balance sand artistry with sand athleticism, Sand Master Park offers 40 acres of sculpted dunes with beginner to advanced slopes. Sleds are available for those not brave—or coordinated—enough to stand up. “The Oregon Coast is a great place for any activity, but ideal if the activity involves sand,” Norris says.
Group Size: Up to 20 for sand sculpting and up to 180 for sandboarding
Price: $500 per day for sand sculpting; $150 for sandboarding lessons with a $16 sandboard rental fee per person
Get Connected: sandmasterpark.com
Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver Mysteries offers urban adventure games for small to large groups. Players assume the roles of characters and comb the city streets for clues. The company offers several different games:
Crime in Downtown: Solve a murder in Vancouver’s popular Gastown neighborhood (suitable for two to 40 players).
Secret Mission: Stop a dangerous organization from annihilating downtown Vancouver (suitable for two to 40 players).
Heroes and Villains: Use your superpowers to stop the Muck Monster (both family-friendly and adult versions are available).
Mega Mysteries: More elaborate, large-group versions of Crime in Downtown or Secret Mission (can accommodate up to 120 players).
Depending on your sleuthing skills, games last between 90 minutes and two hours. Event planners can arrange a game that starts at an office, hotel or meeting venue. Past customers have compared the experience to being in an old detective movie or a live game of Clue.
Group Size: Up to 120
Price: For up to 29 people, $28 perperson plus fees and taxes; for 30 or more people, $22.40 per-person plus fees and taxes
Get Connected: vancouvermysteries.com
San Juan Island, Washington
San Juan Island, Washington Bioluminescence is the light emitted by marine microorganisms. The nutrient-rich waters around the San Juan Islands in Washington foster a large population of Noctiluca, a marine dinoflagellate that gives off a green light after sunset. One of the best ways to appreciate bioluminescence is to kayak through the bay on a moonless night.
Discovery Sea Kayaks in Friday Harbor offers bioluminescence tours during new and small moon phases from June through September. Kayaks launch just before sunset. As twilight fades, kayakers see the dark water sparkle with a viridescent glow. Paddle strokes make long colorful streaks on the water.
Guide Jason Gunter recommends booking at least three months in advance if you want to join a regular tour, or six months in advance to organize a private outing for your group. Part of the adventure is spending the night on the island, as the kayaks arrive back at the dock after the last ferry leaves. Discovery gets rave reviews from customers. “They all say it’s surreal and feels like being a kid again,” Gunter says. “They run their hands through the water, taking it all in.”
Group Size: 10 maximum
Price: $125 per person
Get Connected: discoveryseakayak.com
IMPROV AT HEADLANDS COASTAL LODGE & SPA
Pacific City, Oregon
Beachfront rooms at Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa in Pacific City, Oregon, inspire guests to walk, do yoga or even conduct a team meeting on the sand. The lodge also boasts a spa, wellness center and upscale dining, and staff can arrange for horseback riding and kayaking.
Headlands partners with Phil Incorvia, owner of Humanity Gym, for team-building, strategic-planning and facilitating sessions, drawing on his 30-plus years of improvisational experience. “Improv is a great tool for building relationships, addressing what is real and in-the-moment for a group, and creating engagement—which often means having fun,” says Incorvia. “I introduce the improv tool set, and bring my skill as an improviser by noticing what the group needs and being flexible enough to address it.”
The ocean setting and the warmth of the staff add to the experience, Incorvia says. “People get a chance to be themselves and be recognized for it. I make sure that everyone feels safe and seen, while encouraging participants to be a little brave and push their comfort zones into new places.”
Group Size: Up to 16 on-site; larger meeting spaces available around Pacific City
Cost Per Person: Varies
Get Connected: email@example.com
Aurora borealis viewing has evolved into a popular wintertourism activity, says Amy Geiger, director of communications for Explore Fairbanks. “There are other activities you can do while you’re waiting [for the light show], like ice fishing or dog mushing, or just head straight to a good vantage point, like a yurt on a hill.” Don’t worry—the yurts are heated, and most have large windows for aurora-spotting. Some tours also include instruction for photograph - ing the lights.
Several properties offer on-site viewing during the aurora season, which lasts from Aug. 21 to April 21. A group of 25 people can take over The Lodge at Black Rapids or A Taste of Alaska Lodge, while Chena Hot Springs Resort accommodates 100 people. Guests at Chena can watch for the lights from a rock pool hot spring or visit Chena’s ice bar for an appletini in an ice glass. Groups meeting at any Fairbanks hotel can contract with a tour company for a night of aurora viewing.
This is one activity that never gets old: The aurora borealis never puts on the same show twice—five minutes or three hours, fast or slow, colorful or greenish white. “It can be a really active show where the whole sky fills up, or it can be a smaller light show where there’s a big green river weaving its way across the sky,” says Geiger.
Group Size: Varies depending on tour
Cost Per Person: Varies
Get Connected: Helen Renfrew, director of meetings and conventions for Explore Fairbanks, firstname.lastname@example.org