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Corporate Outdoor Development Training

What Happens on Corporate Adventure Training Programs?

James Neill
Last updated:
29 Nov 2003

Stripping away the mystique -
What exactly happens on Corporate Adventure Training programs?


Sometimes people create mystique about the "power" of corporate adventure training.  This sense of mystery, or heading into "the unknown" is somehow meant to enhance the "power of the adventure".  Too often, though, the approach of "trust me, you'll see" is used by adventure companies and corporate adventure instructors because they don't really understand or want to explain their methods.

There are a huge variety of approaches to corporate training, which can be explained as ranging on a scale of "adventuresomeness":

  • Level 1 - The Game (or Gimmick?) - 10 minutes - One or two experiential games or exercises are added into a "normal" training program.  e.g., involving throwing rubber chickens to one another while trying to remember each other's names or holding hands in Gordian knot and trying to unravel.  This gives the participants a stimulating and fresh experience.  Go to Games, Activities & Initiatives.

  • Level 2 - The Session (or Let's Have a Go) - 60 minutes - A sequence of activities, briefings, structured discussions, etc. is created and delivered for the purpose of teaching participants a skill or piece of knowledge.  This might involve several adventure-based activities (such as low ropes challenge course activities) and have as the goal, "for members of a new team to get to know one another in a fun, safe, friendly way".  A session may last anywhere from 30 minutes to a half a day.  It may be a one-off session or part of a larger training package.

  • Level 3 - Adventure, Here We Come, But Not For Long - 10 hours - An organization decides to go off-base and into the woods.  They jump in the mini-bus and shoot off to a ropes course facility 70 minutes out of town, where they are met by two fit looking enthusiastic instructors, a male and a female, and before they know it the participants are deeply immersed in a day like they've never experienced before, as they are led by their instructors on an intriguing journey of excitement, hesitation, learning about one another, taking on seemingly impossible challenges, conquoring fears, feeling tired muscles, looking forward to getting home, and then, thank goodness we're back on the mini-bus heading home.  That was fun, wasn't it!

  • Level 4 - Pack the Bags, We're Going On a Journey - 3 days - Set auto-replies on your emails, and send out the "I'm off on staff training this week - somewhere in the jungle - I'll get back to you next week if I can still walk and having beaten off the crocodiles" type messages.  Make sure the cat has enough food.  And, geez, what are these things they have on the packing list for?  Thermal underwear, black plastic bags, sunscreen, spare torch batteries.  This is starting to sound serious, plus they want me to complete a personality profile and I'm going to be involved in giving honest feedback to my colleagues (Go to Tools for Enhancing Corporate Adventure Training).  Geez, I better think about getting some sleep...Extended Corporate Adventure Training programs involve multiple days and nights, anywhere from a 3-day rafting trip to a 10-day plus expedition.  The night-time accommodation could be anywhere from huts or cabins with running water to sleeping in the open, miles from anywhere.  The physical intensity of the programs will vary, that generally depends on what kind of approach the organization requests - it can be anywhere from very light, with other forms of training or recreation emphasized through to intense, extreme physical challenge, such as in corporate adventure racing.  The theory is that by staying together and working intensely on the issues presented by challenges, far greater possibilities can emerge for personal and team development.