You might think this is odd but it’s really not: A great thing a technology-focused company can do is to get out into the bush and disconnect for an evening!
That’s exactly what we did last week. A bunch of our staff are keen and even avid outdoors people but we hadn’t even had a group outing together where we disconnect and tune into some real team bonding. This wasn’t your horrible ‘group building through brute force’ of yesterday by any means. When we do anything it’s ultimately aimed at fun, any other side-effects are just added perks (and of course there were some).
This first stab at an after-work mid-week camping trip was small but super fun none the less. With a mix of leadership, marketing, creative and developer talent present it was destined to be interesting conversation in a way that can only happen away from the computers, job titles and regular work-life pressure.
We started by rallying at the office wearing our finest bushwalking fashions. The size of the pack each person was carrying was relatively inversely correlated to how often everyone normally did this. Seb and Mitch won the awards for smallest pack. Poor Lisa borrowed a backpack that seemed to be pre-packed with everything to start a new society out in the bush should society collapse. Despite bearing that massive load, Lisa was a trooper and never complained once. In fact, the whole group was insanely positive and oddly energetic despite having all worked all day.
After about an hour on the train out to our stop we were ready to march through a little more suburbia until finally being greeted by the edge of a beautiful national park. Only, a short walk into Royal National Park we were at our scenic campsite a few meters next to a healthy flowing creek. Some of us even partook in morning showers under a little waterfall. We had a clear view of the stars and were even treated with a stunning full moon.
We were highly amused (although certainly not surprised) when Alan, a known kickstarter addict, pulled out a fire-driven battery charger to cook his dinner as well as juice up his phone. I couldn’t help but ask how it kept from catching fire. The short answer: science. The long answer: really powerful little fans. I was still sceptical as to the safety implications of such a device. The irony of it is that the battery that powers the circulation fans have to be charged up from an outside power source before hitting the trail. Hmm?
As the sun set and our bellies were all comfortably full, the wine and whisky started to flow and the conversation got interesting. While we can’t tell you most of what was discussed, I’m happy to share some highlights. We learned why Seb hates beanbag filling with a passion. We all had a deep and philosophical conversation about whether we’d rather market a food product made out of bugs or soylent green in a post-apocalyptic society tried to hold it together. Suffice it to say we learned a lot about each other in just under 16 hours.
We got up with the sun and hoofed it back up out of the peacefulness of the bush, commandeered a portion of the train car, which we certainly stank up, we might have slightly missed making it back for a 9am start but it was well worth it. Rocking back up to the office the next morning smelling a bit less than our city best, our colleagues were jealous of the glow on our faces. Nothing beats that thing that flips your brain into another plane of thought after even just one night out in the bush.
*The idea of 5to9 stemmed from Chris Ball‘s fundraising campaign for his Spark South Africa program. That program is currently funded but we encourage you to read about it and keep an eye open for future ways to get involved.