Why a retreat?

Retreats are more than just a fun getaway, according to several founders who’ve organized their own. (Inc.)

Retreats are great ways for a team to work on together and tackle critical issues. They are also effective ways to build team dynamics and create productive relationships. Retreats afford teams to work on strategic development, conflict resolution, new initiatives or action planning. With a relatively new team and structure, Project Exploration took advantage of a team retreat to envision the work of Project Exploration, become familiar and connected to the new mission and reflect together, to assess and refine practices.

5 Important Reasons to Take a Company Retreat

Retreats are more than just a fun getaway, according to several founders who’ve organized their own.

5 Important Reasons to Take a Company Retreat | Inc.com. https://www.inc.com/kaleigh-moore/5-important-reasons-to-take-a-company-retreat.htm

  • Explore somewhere new together.
  • Make important decisions.
  • Take time to learn about each other’s personalities.
  • Don’t stress over day-to-day tasks and big-picture thinking.
  • Show love and appreciation.

Explore somewhere new together.

The PE team retreat held at Glenhagen Farm Retreat, in Princeton, IL brought together a newly restructured team. Teambuilding and strategic thinking started early as everyone road tripped to the location. Sarah, Development Manager, and early bird explored the home as she awaited the other team members.  Natasha, Executive Director, and Chetta, STEM VISTA Worker arrived next after needing to navigate without GPS support. Kamentha, Operations Director, and Kelsey, STEM Co-op Manager, followed by Kiara, Program Manager were close behind but needed help finding the location and eventually were met by Sarah, Natasha, and Chetta to caravan them back to the retreat house.  

The Project Exploration team was introduced to Glenhagen farms by a board member and having the retreat there was also an opportunity for the team to explore a new location for All Girls Expedition, a weekend camping trip for girls. Not only was the team taking time to work but they would also enjoy 65 acres of beautiful woods, valley, and stream in a rural area.

Make important decisions.

Kamentha was responsible for planning the agenda, activities, and exercises for the retreat.  There were clear goals, objectives, and agenda items that would propel our work forward. We broke down our mission, vision, guiding principles and values. Everyone reflected on their connection to them and how everyone contributed to meeting them. We did role-play activities, we reviewed our past activities and began to plan our future activities. We became acquainted with the new All Girls Expedition location, and we created a dynamic, trusting team with important team building activities.

Take time to learn about each other’s personalities.

The retreat brought together the entire Project Exploration team, except for our Project Director in an unfamiliar setting to participate in an overnight retreat.  By definition, retreat is the act or process of withdrawing, with a sense of fear or not being safe. However, the experience allayed anxieties and fears disappeared as the team of women came together and took the time to learn about each other. We shared laughs, stories, prayers, heartbreaks, pitfalls, feelings, failures, and most of all, successes in our lives – so many of the things that have led us all up to this point. Although some of us literally fell flat on our hind parts at some point during the retreat (don’t ask), some of us have felt that over the course of our lives.  We talked about how we conquered these vast mountains that made us fall flat at times, but it helped us remember that everyone has a starting point and we don’t always get it right the first time. And that’s precisely what happened during the retreat – we were reminded that we’re human with human experiences but that we never have to forget that human aspect that ties into our work. Primarily because that’s what we aim for in the work we do to create transformative learning opportunities for youth underrepresented in the sciences– particularly, students of color and girls, by equipping them with the skills, practices, and mindset needed for a lifelong pursuit of learning.

Don’t stress over day-to-day tasks and big-picture thinking.

There were plenty of team building exercises – one in particular that now has allowed each of us to memorize our new mission statement (*hint hint*, see above…did you miss it – it’s italicized) and orchestrate conversations around said mission, as well as our goals, objectives, and the purpose of Project Exploration, based on how they all overlap along with existing work and impact they make on the needs and how those needs are met in underrepresented communities in Chicago that we serve or aim to serve.

Show love and appreciation.

The retreat was executed without “hiring” a facilitator, without having a “debriefing,” and without any “pampering” on the agenda.  It met everyone’s needs and even allowed for a surprise for Natasha, our Executive Director, with a small yet meaningful celebration of her 5th year anniversary.  The Retreat was a success. Each member contributed, each member was lifted, each member was recognized, appreciated and loved.

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