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Teambuilding and Adventure Based Training & Development Published: Sunday, May 18, 2003 By: Karel Hilversum MEd.

 “Challenge is part of our day to day. Today’s experience makes me confident that our team can overcome any challenge that the future may bring.” These were the closing words of a manager after a day of challenging adventure experiences in our recent Challenge Ropes Course program.

Adventure Based Training & Development is an approach to training and team development, which utilizes adventurous educational experiences (activities which involve some form of perceived physical, intellectual or emotional risk such as Challenge Ropes Courses, Tall Ship Team Sailing, and Wilderness Trips) to bring about positive changes in individuals, groups, and organizations. For over 25 years, organizations around the world have benefited from this type of training programs, becoming crucial components for organizational development designs.

These programs provide carefully chosen and properly sequenced challenges followed by shared team reflection and transference of the learning back to the workplace. In this way, the approach creates learning environments within a supportive atmosphere, which in turn enhance the learning outcomes of typical lectures or simulations. Because it provides opportunity for practice through experience, it proves extremely useful in training and development situations where resistance to change is prevalent, where an attitude of rigid thinking exists or where team cohesion is needed in a very limited amount of time.

ABTD experiences present unique learning opportunities for work teams. They involve the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual aspect of every participant offering a holistic approach to personal and team development. Adventure experiences such as sailing a 131 feet Tall Ship or overcoming team obstacles in the Challenge Ropes Course provide immediate feedback on performance regardless of success or setback. Another aspect is that the programs are focused on the activities being performed, thus permitting an effective practice of skills. This closeness between actions and results provides teams the opportunity to alter and modify behaviors and skills in order to reach the desired goals. When carefully designed, adventure experiences are structured in a way that require participants to take initiative, make decisions and be accountable for the results. Throughout the experiential learning process, the learner is actively engaged in posing questions, investigating, experimenting, being curious, solving problems, assuming responsibility, being creative and constructing shared meaning. Due to their complexity, challenge programs require collaboration between all team members, dramatically accelerating team integration through shared experiences that promote dialogue and interdependence.

Individual participants benefit from the development in self-confidence, leadership styles, risk taking propensity, dealing with fear and stress, decision-making, and personal inspiration and commitment. At the same time, the team benefits from improvements in goal setting, team learning, creativity, time management, trust between team members, conflict resolution, group problem solving, and collaboration. Outcomes for the organization include an enhancement of systems, structure, values and ethics, vision and mission, motivational atmosphere and organizational climate.

When was the last time you challenge your team to the learning edge?

 


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