Corporations and businesses are often thinking of ways to lift employee morale and bring a workforce closer together, and one way to make that happen is by bringing the employees to a team-building activity at one of the many camps located throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
These camps offer a great way for people to learn to better communicate and work alongside one another effectively. Through these fun, out-of-the-office activities, employees can view one another in a different light and connect in a setting outside of work.
Camp Penn in Waynesboro is a historic CCC-era camp, whose bunks were built and housed by young men doing forestry work during the New Deal. Joe Sprenkle, director of programs, says part of its charm is its preservation of local history.
“Our back-to-basics campsite has been changing lives for over 70 years. We love to have guests that enjoy nature and community,” he says. “We offer access to the Appalachian Trail with an excellent hike to an overlook. We’ve also got a building with a pool table, pingpong and other games.”
Camp Penn has a building available for a small meeting space of about 30, a larger building with a stage that fits 70, and a dining hall and pavilion with plenty of tables for meetings. The camp also offers lodging facilities for small groups and up to 174 people.
“We have a few team-building elements at the moment but these will be expanding in years to come,” Sprenkle says. “Most groups become closer due to the nature of our large cabins. We can house an entire group in one or two buildings.”
Pocono Plateau is a 750-acre camp in the Pocono Mountains close to Mount Pocono, Stroudsburg and Scranton.
Matt Klein, program manager, says it offers team-building activities, high ropes courses, a zip line and more, including miles of beautiful hiking trails and great meeting facilities. There’s also boating, ball courts and a huge ball field for activities.
“We have a professionally built and inspected team-building course with trained facilitators,” he says. “We also have high ropes courses that can be used as an addition to the team-building experience. Groups can work together from two to eight hours in a day.”
Its meeting space allows companies to hold meetings for groups as little as eight or as large as 120. The camp can provide food, drink and on-site staff to make sure every meeting is a hit.
“We offer weekend and weekday retreats. We have lodges and a beautiful dining hall,” Klein says. “Our facilities are clean and comfortable. Groups that plan a retreat are given a lodge, a meeting space, and use of camp activities (though adventure activities are an extra charge).”
Unlike a stuffy boardroom or hotel meeting room, Klein feels people can get a lot out of being outdoors for a meeting or corporate team-building. “We challenge people to find a more beautiful setting in the area,” he says. “When you bring your group here they can really escape the outside world. We are set high in the mountains with hundreds of acres of forest. We have a large lake to sit around and many areas to meet."
BY THE ROPES
Wesley Forest Camp and Retreat in Weikert offers 440 acres of pristine woodland located in central Pennsylvania, halfway between Lewisburg and State College.
“Our property borders a world-class trout stream, Penns Creek, as well as the 193,424- acre Bald Eagle State Forest,” says Emily Sliski, site director. “We can accommodate overnight groups ranging from 15-108 guests during our retreat season.”
There are four possible meeting spaces onsite. Its dining hall serves as its biggest space, seating up to 150-plus guests and each of its smaller lodges has a common space that is also used for meetings.
“Our large 1930s lodge has a separate meeting room,” Sliski says. “These are not typical state-of-the-art meeting spaces that companies may be used to, but our groups who use these spaces for meetings always leave happy. We also have a large screen, projector, a DVD and computer hook-ups, portable speakers and an in-house sound system.”
The camp offers family-style meals to guests served on-site in its large dining hall, or if groups would prefer to eat out, it’s only a 30- to 45-minute drive from a few great area restaurants and breweries—Rusty Rail, Elk Creek Café and Happy Valley Brewing Company.
Team-building is easy to do at the camp at one of its extensive low ropes courses consisting of more than 15 unique and challenging elements located in a pine forest. “While high ropes courses offer thrill and excitement, they mainly focus on individual performance. Our low rope course fosters communication, trust, teamwork, problem solving, goal setting and conflict resolution,” Sliski says. “Our trained and experienced staff can lead groups ranging from eight to 20 participants at a time, and we can accommodate multiple small groups at once.”
Lodging is available in its three spaces. Hemlock and White Pine lodges are identical and sleep a combined total of 48. Penns Creek is an original lodge that was built in the 1930s, full of history and character, and sleeps a combined total of 60.
“In pure honesty, for an overnight corporate group there are better overnight accommodations than Wesley Forest, but corporate groups will be hard-pressed to find a better and more beautiful site than ours,” Sliski says. “For what we lack in cushy hotel-style accommodations, we more than make up for in hospitality, food, activities, program and overall camp beauty.”
Depending on the season, the lake can be used for kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, ice skating and ice fishing. There are also miles of trails for hiking. “A highlight of our site is our unique bridges (cable car bridge, swinging bridge, monkey bridge, burma bridge, covered bridge). We also have the following free play spaces: basketball court, sand volleyball, GaGa pit, human foosball, disc golf, 9 Square in the Air, and a variety of tailgating games,” Sliski says. “We can offer additional staff-led programming in nature hikes, star studies, night hikes, stream studies, treasure hunts and geocaching.”
YOU GOTTA HAVE FAITH
Spruce Lake in Canadensis is a Christian retreat and conference center that hosts corporate groups midweek. The camp sits on 888 acres and offers 8 miles of walking trails, waterfalls and an incredible view looking over Pennsylvania. More than 34,000 people come to its grounds each year.
“Spruce Lake’s Adventure Program offers groups a range of activities ideal for understanding interpersonal dynamics, building cooperation and learning to problem-solve … all while having lots of fun,” says Lisa B. Mitchell, marketing director. “Our facilitators are trained, our equipment is professionally designed and safety-tested. All activities are Challenge by Choice, which means that participants choose their own level of challenge pertaining to that activity. Group leaders may also ask the facilitator to lead a wrap-up time to process what the group learned and to challenge participants to look more deeply into Christian faith.”
With multiple meeting rooms in its Retreat Center Area, and meeting space in each of its Mountainside and Wilderness Camp lodges, Spruce Lake offers flexibility in accommodating the needs of groups both large and small. It can handle groups as small as 10 and as many as 500 people. Its newest facility, Spruce Lodge, offers handicapped accessibility, state-of-theart audio-visual equipment and proximity to all surrounding retreat center amenities
“Assignment of meeting rooms will correspond with the lodging reserved and the size of your group,” Mitchell says. “Several come equipped with a snack counter and most have a refrigerator. Teaching aids [white boards, flip charts, screen, DVD player/monitor, etc.] are available upon request at no cost. There is, however, a small fee for the use of video projec - tors and PA systems.”
For team-building, the retreat center fea - tures a tandem zip line, open for rides Saturday afternoons plus Tuesdays and Thursdays over the summer.
NO HORSING AROUND
Kyle Martin, marketing and development associate for Camp Hebron in Halifax, notes that the camp’s highly respected horseman - ship program differentiates it from many other local facilities. Meeting participants also enjoy seeing their herd grazing in fields adjacent to the main drive.
“We have a variety of meeting spaces, several of which include convenient breakout rooms. Our largest meeting facility, Mountainside Haven, seats 220,” Martin says. “Camp Hebron also offers a high challenge course, low challenge course initiatives, rock climbing, charter canoe trips and portable team-building initiatives in which our staff comes to your workplace.”
Outdoor recreation options at Camp Hebron include horseback riding, a swim - ming pool, hiking trails, sports fields, sand volleyball courts, basketball courts, horseshoe pits, canoeing, paddleboating and fishing. Its gymnasium includes volleyball courts, a bas - ketball court and a rock climbing wall.
“We have several lodging facilities available for groups. Sylvan View Retreat Center is our all-in-one facility, with 35 private rooms, a spacious dining room and meeting space all under one roof,” Martin says. “Small groups have other options as well.”