This spring we held a very successful Alumni Creative Camp for Stanford University alumni. We partnered with University faculty to put together the structure and content of the weekend. Our goal was 50 attendees, and we exceeded with final attendance at 52. The attending alumni gave great reviews of the program, and plans are underway for the 2013 retreat. Following are five successful components of the program that you can use to boost creativity at your next corporate retreat.
Location and setting: Our serene and somewhat secluded location on beautiful Fallen Leaf Lake was just the right place for attendees to slow down, breathe deeply and relax. In the post event evaluation, many participants commented on the location: “The setting on Fallen Lake is the most valuable part of the whole program!” Another attendee remarked “There was a sense of freedom created by the Camp” “Gorgeous, relaxing setting” “The physical setting contributes tremendously”. “Sierra Camp is just an incredible place”.
Our main lodge has the corporate retreat facilities to host a productive meeting with the amazing backdrop of Fallen Leaf Lake and the surrounding mountains.
Create a balanced blend of fun and substance We kicked off the three-day program with a social hour with beer, wine and hors d’oeuvres. As each person entered the room, our hosts placed a sticker on their back with the name of a famous person. Attendees could then ask each other “yes” and “no” questions to determine who they were. This activity offered an easy, non-threatening way for the group to interact. Along with well known figures, we used many Stanford names to support the camaraderie of the group of alumni. For your corporate retreat, You could theme the names to support the goals of your program and direct the conversations. Two recent Stanford graduates, Davey Feder and Shilpa Sakar, who took classes in Stanford’s d.school facilitated the icebreaker and subsequent evening activities including a team dessert art challenge and a talent show. Davey and Shilpa’s high energy and friendly demeanor added to the casual, friendly atmosphere of the event.
Provide an unexpected activity to get participants out of their everyday brain 90% of the participants gave “excellent” reviews to Aleta Hayes, dance instructor, who started each day with a half hour of “liquid flow” which Aleta describes as “A combination of dance improvisation, yoga and Tai Chi to spring into full creative expression each morning. Participants experience the joy of fluid, juicy movement and playful dancing with freedom and ease.”
Participants commented “I’m not a dancer, but loved Aleta’s energy and found that surprisingly fun.” “The movement classes were beyond wonderful – fun and purposeful both, because the three mornings built on each other, and by the end Aleta was showing us how to get outside ourselves when faced with “performance.” That was extremely useful.” “I thought the dance started everyone off on the right foot, positive and ready to engage.”
Keep it interactive
The core sessions of the creative camp included instruction, then an opportunity for participants to work on their own or collaboratively. One participant commented “The presenters used great techniques to mix us up in different combinations.” Another said, “The collaborative process with a partner whose technical skills complemented my life. Experience resulted in a productive and fun process.”
Provide downtime to process what they learned
A large benefit of events at Stanford Sierra is all participants are onsite for the duration of the program. We built downtime activities into the Creative Camp beginning with yoga classes in the morning and ending the day with port in front of the fireplace and stargazing cruises on our pontoon boat.
Plus all meals are served in the dining room giving ample time for casual interactions during meals.
You can use these five elements in your next corporate retreat to create a productive and fun event for your staff. Of course, every group is different with different goals, we can help you tailor your event to fit your group’s needs and desires.