by Amanda, Charlotte staff

The staff from our Charlotte shop, sponsored in part by our friends at Ex Officio, was able to spend a chilly but exciting morning working together at the Team Development Center of the US National Whitewater Center on 30 October. Tucked into the woods above the man-made river, the Team Development Center offers 22 different ground-level Low Elements and a series of High Elements 32 feet above the ground.

Eleven staff members, whose tenures with GOPC range from 12 years to just one day, faced a variety of team and individual challenges. Our day began as the sun came up on a brisk, 30 degree morning, but we are fortunately all familiar with the advantages of good layering. Staying warm was the least of the challenges we faced!

After a short game to get the blood moving, our first challenge was the “Team Triangle,” which involved moving all eleven team members from a platform, around a steel cable strung between trees, and back to the platform, without touching the ground. As a group, we jumped right in, tackling the problem head-on and developing our strategy as we went. We had only one slight mishap (a team member touched the ground) with the consequence that another person was blindfolded for the remainder of the task. The challenge was one we all enjoyed, and were happy to see our well our trust and communication skills helped us succeed.

Next up was another of the center’s Low Elements, the “Nitro Swing.” This challenge involved moving each team member, one at time, on to individual platforms using a rope swing. Complicating matters, we were also challenged to move a cup of water from one side to the other. In this case, our challenge was to work together to enable every one to achieve the same goal. It was quickly apparent that each of us has different needs, and required a slightly different approach to the challenge. We were successful because we were able to acknowledge our own individual strengths and weaknesses, and use them to achieve our group goal. Things were a little dicey as we moved the water from one side to another, but we managed it without spilling a drop.

Feeling pretty confident in ourselves, we moved next to the High Elements. Properly harnessed up, we split into teams of 3 and 4 to move together across steel cables through a variety of obstacles. The high elements challenged us to navigate around and over various obstacles, leap from platform to platform, and do it all balanced on a steel cable 32 feet above the forest floor. We quickly realized that the key to success is our ability to rely on one another for support, both literally and mentally. Even though a few of us took some spills, everyone managed to reach the zip line at the end of the high ropes course and enjoy a quick ride back to the ground.

Angie, who was our facilitator for the day, and her assistant Gill were enthusiastic supporters, and with their encouragement we were all successful. The challenges we faced together at the Team Development Center reinforced for us the importance of communication and team work, and certainly renewed our sense of team spirit.

>> Learn more about the USNCW with this virtual tour

Trip photos on FLICKR