A few days back we were already on a company outing high. We even tried that free gym pass at Anytime Fitness Marikina to get our physical bodies warmed up for the weekend.
We packed our bags and fully charged our gadgets the night before we left on a sunny Friday morning.
Two vans filled with infectious enthusiasm, guts, and joyful spirits as we head on towards one memorable team building.
With less than an hour drive is a trail haven that offers an escape from the confines of the “concrete jungle.” Tucked in the mountains of Antipolo and San Mateo, Phillip's Sanctuary is a 13-hectare property owned by the Pestaño family.
Phillip’s Sanctuary is an eco-recreation farm that caters perfectly for outdoor activities like team building, picnics, retreats, company outings, school field trips, parties and more.
I have been in a company outing before and I admit this one is indeed one for the books. Certainly, I am not as competitive as much as before than I am during this team building. Yes, I have been physically active since the beginning of this year but not in a second I imagined I would enjoy a physically jam-packed team building.
I like to believe that experiences such as these are more meaningful if they are shared. Together we amplify the mental and physical strengths of each other even if some of us are unaware of what we are capable of. Sure, coming from a petite person who carried three car tires while being lifted. The adrenaline was epic, I was almost living that spartan dream.
So, what exactly went down?
We started the activities at 9 o’clock with our CEO, Noel del Castillo, opening this year’s team building.
We are divided into two groups with 15 individuals each. The black team as “Black Panther” and the green team as “Team CEMO”.
I am part of the green team which I found funny as it was named after the Marikina City’s Environmental Management Office. The color green should ring a bell.
The facilitators asked us to pick the person opposite to the usual outgoing, bold and loud personalities to be the team leaders. The Black Panther had Rhoice Segui and for the Team CEMO, we had Sunny Rosalia. Both of these guys, I must say, are literally the quiet ones but are masters at what they are doing at work.
Challenges and Take Aways
We started with a game of Picture Me, a charades-like game where we are given scenarios to picture out based on the team’s understanding while another person from the team will provide an explanation of each character.
The goal of this activity is for us to realize the importance of listening to understand so that we can convey properly what is being said to us. This reminded me of what Stephen Covey once said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Stephen Covey once said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
The activity was immediately followed by the unity walk where the Black Panther and Team CEMO went head to head against each other. The game is composed of five persons per batch who will have to walk on a plank of wood while holding on to the ropes attached to the wood itself.
Given that unity is the key to success, having this trait inside the team also increases the morale and productivity of each person. Unity emphasizes the collaborative effort and camaraderie between employees.
Unity emphasizes the collaborative effort and camaraderie between employees.
Another outdoor activity is the Acid River where team members are required to cross the imaginary river safely without anyone falling in through the help of plank of woods that serve as a bridge. They are also small pieces of wood that act as support to keep the bridge connected and elevated.
This activity represents the quality of the work we build just as how we created an imaginary bridge to ensure the safety of everyone. It is how we carefully discuss problems and execute them with the right solution so we can provide our clients with the quality product they deserve.
It is how we carefully discuss problems and execute them with the right solution so we can provide our clients with the quality product they deserve.
Outdoor activities got more physical as we reach noon and as the sun stood still.
We moved to the poles and tires where teams must create a human pyramid so that they can reach the top of a pole and stack it with tires. To make it more challenging, team members are not allowed to throw the tire over the pole or let it hit the ground.
This activity shows us how we should master the way we distribute tasks in our daily work so that we can focus on a specific task at hand and ensure that we meet client demands and deadlines.
The centipede race seems basic but it was probably one of the most physical. It is like a human hoop relay. Each player locks their arms between the thighs of the next player in front of them and race in this compact position across the distance line, turning around without breaking their formation, and end the race when the last man on the team crosses the baseline.
The centipede race symbolizes the way we are interconnected with one another. It reminds us that communication, open and not one-sided, is fundamental in planning and performing the basic functions in our work.
It reminds us that communication, open and not one-sided, is fundamental in planning and performing the basic functions in our work.
Crossing the zip line was not part of the team challenges but it was definitely a treat to some. I didn’t try it though, I made taking photographs an excuse to my fear of speed. What I missed from crossing the zip line was the lesson of trust. Aside from not giving my trust to the professionals at the end of the line and the equipment, I didn’t trust myself enough that I can overcome and let go of my fear. Odds are zip lines are not as extreme as they seem.
The senses kicked in. The experience has definitely pumped up the people’s adrenaline. But there were still more in store for the day. We grabbed our lunch and rested for a while.
The afternoon activities started by us crossing the hanging bridge. I did cross the bridge when I got there. It was fine for me. But to some, it wasn’t like a walk in the park especially when the ropes got a little too shaky. I knew at that moment they were literally stepping outside of their comfort zone.
On to the low rope courses we go. These rope courses are designed to cater to different challenges that test a person’s upper body strength and technique. We are required to tap the shoulder of the next person once we are done with our course. This act demonstrates teamwork. Recognizing that we need each other to complete the whole course and appreciating the team’s effort.
Almost down to the last four challenges before it gets muddy.
We raised and pulled each other to climb up the 10-feet wall. It was not an easy feat without the use of a ladder, we needed to rely on the strength of one another. We cheered as soon as all of us got over the top of the wall. This makes us appreciate the rewards of achieving our goals together.
Passing through the spider’s web seems to be a staple in any team building activity. The objective of this challenge is to get the entire team from one side to the other, one at a time without using the same hole as many times as the facilitator mentioned. Also, without touching any of the webs.
This activity teaches us two leadership skills — integrity and decision making. We show our integrity by remaining true to the rules of the game despite the difficulty to comply. Meanwhile, decision making involves careful thought process which means assessing our next steps, not to mention adding risks into the equation, to come up with successful results.
This activity teaches us two leadership skills — integrity and decision making. We show our integrity by remaining true to the rules of the game despite the difficulty to comply.
Tight ropes scared the hell out of me. There’s no question I would even try that. It’s as if I will be the next victim documenting my life in Monsters Inside Me anticipating that I will fall one way or another, all thanks to my weak grip.
But seriously, I saw how the struggle was real. With shaky hands and knees, each person was trying their best to hold on and hope they will not fall. It was like seeing a placard right in front of their faces saying, “just let me reach the end of the line.” Funny but true. I can honestly feel their triumph as soon as they stepped on solid ground.
This activity teaches us that we may experience hardships along the way but at the end of it all, we are victorious. Our struggles from yesterday make us who we are today.
Our struggles from yesterday make us who we are today.
Part of it also is our ability to live through with our decisions to engage in the challenges in life to reaching our goals and face the consequences come what may.
And lastly, the mud crawl and slide. I was scared at falling to a dirty pool but I wasn't afraid of getting myself icky and muddy. I came prepared with my bear crawl. I was looking forward to this, the only exception was the mudslide.
It was pure bliss. Getting our selves soaked with dirt and mud was a humbling experience.
Well, who knew all these activities have their deeper meaning more than the physical challenges it offers.
Regardless of the intensity and effort, each person put into the activities, it was evident that everyone enjoyed their experience as much as I am.
After all, team buildings are created to bring people together to achieve a common goal. At this moment, as Pragtech, we are solid.
We are home. We are Pragtech.
“Masaya ako na masaya tayong lahat at magkakasama kasi at the end of the day, it is about the journey,” said Noel who was slightly emotional at that time.
To us, his employees, Pragtech is our second home. To him, we are his second family.
This year’s team building was not only an opportunity to get to know each other especially for the new ones like me but also, it has sealed our bond as workmates, as friends.
Living in the fast lane and being surrounded by innovators, developers, and designers made me appreciate every moment at the sanctuary. Seeing them away from their computers and getting in action was an inspiration for me as a writer.
Hail to shared ideas, hardships, and laughter. We THINK BIG. We START SMALL. We SCALE FAST. All the way up! We are Pragtech.
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