Members of the Friday Institute’s evaluation team will always remember the Thursday they traded in computers, statistics and graphs for the chance to swing high above the floor of Schenck Forest.
They didn’t reach “flying squirrel” status right away, of course. The outdoor adventure began with feet planted firmly on the ground, as they worked through a series of team-building exercises.
The group of graduate students and research associates started by getting the hang of how to sort themselves into groups based on color- and number-coded cards, improving their time from 1 minute 39 seconds to 15 seconds on the second try.
After that, they built a “cube-like structure” out of PVC pipe, not knowing the next assignment would be balancing it on one corner. The final challenge was to get as many people as possible to climb through the cube, using different entry and exit points each time. They got creative, hoisting Dr. Rodolfo Argueta, a research associate, through it feet first. A time limit added the drama of a countdown.
After a quick debriefing – nothing too touch-feely – the professional evaluators compared notes about what worked best.
“The idea is teaching a little bit about what we do that is self-defeating,” says Bill James, assistant director of Campus Recreation’s Outdoor Adventures. “We start to impose our own limits and our own criteria without knowing necessarily what comes next. When they build their cube they’re not aware of what they’re going to do with it, so they have to see how it all plays out and work together to complete the activity as they go through it.”
“Dog Team” Ready?
The highlight of the half-day’s experience involved donning helmets and harnesses and tackling NC State’s new and very imposing ropes course. All but one member of the team snapped into the dog team line, ready to hoist the “flying squirrel” in the air.
Judging by the completely unscientific reactions of the squirrels – wide grins and whoops of laughter - it was a morning well spent.
Watch the Dog Team and Flying Squirrels
The Friday Institute team was the 50th group to visit the ropes course, which opened last July thanks to a donation from alumnus Jim Wall. The course is a joint venture of Campus Recreation; the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources; Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management; and Physical Education. If you’d like to get to know your co-workers better and spend at least half a day out of the office, contact Campus Recreation.