Team-building is an essential part of getting colleagues to work together better. By taking on a fun out-of-the-office activity, employees can view one another in a different light and connect in a setting outside of work.
The purpose of a team-building exercise is for people to learn how to think about the implications of these activities at their workplace and apply them for better production in a closer environment.
Throughout the state of New Jersey, there are a number of camp-style retreat options where companies can go with their workforce and spend a day or more to bond with fun camp activities.
Originally founded as a summer camp in 1906, YMCA Camp Ockanickon in Medford has been serving groups year-round since 1950, offering team-building opportunities for decades.
“We have a year-round residential facility, offering programs for corporate outings that can be anywhere from a couple of hours to full-week experiences,” says Dave Kaubin, outdoor center director. “Most companies tend to come out for one day, with a lot of businesses combining regional meetings with team-building events. Half the day they will work on team-building and the other half they can use our facilities to do some business and hold meetings.”
Among the programs that corporations can take part in are things centered on experiential education and 21st-century skill development. “They work on problem solving, communication and collaboration, as well as critical thinking and creativity and apply them through low ropes activities, helping each other get through,” Kaubin says. “Some groups will use that and progress up to high elements, such as a climbing wall or things that require multiple people to help, building confidence and trust.”
In Kaubin’s opinion, team-building is a great outlet for employees at a company who may get bored or too set in their ways, leading to an unproductive workplace
“It provides a little bit of a rest from day-today work and gives people a chance to connect with each other in a way that they may never have done at the office,” he says. “When they are outside, people are less likely to look at their phones or check messages, so they really are having a shared experience that builds trust, so it really helps the team dynamic.”
The camp offers a variety of meal options for the companies and Wi-Fi is available.
INTO THE WOODS
Tammy Gomez, director at Beachcomber Camping Resort in Cape May, says the camp offers 100 acres of wooded park with fullservice resort amenities, and makes a great place for businesses to spend some time away from the office.
“We have a meeting room that can hold 60 people; there’s a full kitchen so catering can be done; and there’s a pavilion that can hold up to 200 people,” she says. “We have cabins, apartments and a house, plus trailers, tiny houses and teepees available.”
Gomez mentions that the teepees (with two bunk beds in each) are something unique and allow people to experience camping in a whole new way.
“Most companies tend to visit in the fall,” Gomez says, adding it’s a perfect time because the summer season is usually too busy to host these types of activities. “We have a big fire pit on the beach, and companies can hold a meeting around the fire pit in the evening and enjoy things like a sing-along,” she says. “The whole purpose of something like this is to bring people closer together, and what better way than to make friends around a camp fire?”
Last season, the camp hosted attendants from a local nursing home. They came for the weekend and rented cabins, and spent the days doing activities such as kayaking, paddleboating and taking tugboat rides on the lake.
“They also utilized our golf carts to do a team scavenger hunt that they set up around the camp,” Gomez says. “They all worked in teams and spent the day looking for items. Skills come out that might not be present in the workspace and management may even see some strengths in people that they can bring over to the workplace.”
The camp has several local caterers on call, while some companies choose to bring their own food and use the on-site kitchen or barbecues for a cookout.
“We have a big 5-acre lake and that’s very appealing to businesses because they can fish,” Gomez says. “This is a chance to get out of your conference room and into an environment where you can unplug and rely on each other. Here you’re sharing a cabin with someone else who you might only say ‘hi’ to at the coffee station. It gives you the chance to get to know a little about someone.”
Beachcomber Camping Resort also hosts running races throughout the year, which is another activity that businesses can gather up some employees for and take part in together.
SERVING THE GUESTS
Holly Shores Camping Resort in Cape May has hosted many family reunions and other social events through the years, and is looking to expand its corporate business.“We have a large pavilion—everything we need to host a group,” says David Robinson, president. “My daughter is a trainer and she can arrange bonding and group team-building activities.”
There are 34 rental units—each 400 square feet—that can sleep four comfortably. In light of the glamping trend, two large Hemingway-type tents that sleep four are being installed. Activities in the park include a nature trail, movies, hot tubs, a heated swimming pool, lakes for fishing and the camp can also arrange whale watching excursions or Cape May tours. There’s also a bonfire each night and they can bring in live music.
“We serve as concierges for our guests,” Robinson says. “We want groups to have a no-stress visit and we will accommodate them however we can to make sure they leave here in a happier state of mind.”
The camp is just 5 minutes from the County Airport and can arrange transportation to and from for businesses that bring in employees from other places.
CABIN IN THE WOODS
With 200 scenic acres in the Kittatinny Mountains, Kymer’s Camping Resort in Branchville offers corporations a unique environment for meetings and team-building. Cabins and trailers are also available for those who want to stay overnight.
“We had a group last year that came in and rented cabins during the week and spent time doing different team-building activities, which they said really brought everyone closer together,” says Karen Kymer, president. “The atmosphere is just much different than doing something in a conference center or a stuffy building.”
The camp is open from April 1 to Oct. 31 and caters to families mostly; the best time for corporate groups to come is during the week or slow season during the months of April, May, September and October. With 17 cabins and 12 trailers available, corporations can have as many as 75-100 people come out for a few days, but smaller groups of 10-15 are also encouraged to give team-building a try.
“There’s plenty for people to do. Basketball, tennis, hot tubs, kayaking, fishing and the nearby Appalachian Trail for hiking,” Kymer says. “We have a pavilion with tables where they can hold some meetings if necessary as well. An outdoor setting is always more relaxing.”
Joe Smith, camp director for Camp Louemma in Sussex, notes whether it’s a day-long conference, a weekend retreat or an entire weeklong getaway, the camp’s wide variety of indoor and outdoor facilities are designed to bring colleagues together.
“They can swim, they can boat, they can rock climb on our 30-foot climbing tower and zip line, plus they can play any sport under the sun to build some camaraderie,” he says. “We have a soccer field, a basketball court and a softball field and there’s a private lake for row boating, kayaking and fishing.”
The camp also offers a meeting room complete with tables that can fit up to 250, Wi-Fi and whatever multimedia may be required, as well as an outdoor amphitheater. The latter has a stage, which can be utilized as well.
“A lot of companies have their own program ideas and just use us as a host,” Smith says. “We also can come up with ideas for activities for everyone so they don’t need to think of anything in advance.”