As a bit of a team building effort, everyone at work recently went down to the Gold Coast to participate in the Corporate Challenge Raft Regatta. Essentially, this involved participating in four different challenges, where each challenge had a reward attached to it. Finally, all that study of the Survivor documentaries was going to come in handy!
The premise of the fisrt challenge was a simple one – with all members of the team blindfolded, form a perfect square using a length of rope.
Sounds easy enough, but unsurprisingly the blindfold adds a huge layer of complexity to the problem. Sadly, we did not win this one; our square was more of a rectangle (though I can honestly say it came out much better than I had anticipated!
For this one, everyone stood at one end of a small field (about 10 metres in length). One member from each team had to navigate across the field by only standing on two “stones” (flat pieces of wood) – kind-of like playing hopscotch, but you have to keep moving the stones as you go.
(You can clearly see that we had a natural advantage this time enabled simply by all my Survivor study. Also, Steve (on the other team) had the natural disadvantage of being a Pom, and as such, was probably suffering from heat stroke at the time – it was about 25 degrees, after all.)
Once at the other end of the field, the “hopper” from each team grabbed another stone, then ran back to the start and did it all over again with two people. Then again with three, then four… until the last round when all seven team members were navigating their way across the field on eight stones.
At any point, if someone fell over or touched the ground, the whole team had to start that round again.
Suffice to say, our team dominated this challenge.
Again, a simple premise – divide each team into two, and stand them at opposite ends of a large field (about 50 metres apart). The challenge was simply to get a message from one end of the field to the other (obviously witout using mobile phones, or running up and down, or yelling, etc). Effectively, each team had to come up with a set of signals and then use them to communicate a message. We were given a moment to strategise, then it was time to get started.
Once again, our team dominated this challenge, using our superior strategy of gigantic roman numerals. We had our message finished when the other team was only about half way through!
This one was a total hodge-podge, and as you may have already guessed, we did not win this one. It was a multi-faceted problem – throw some balls into a hoop, then hit some practice golf balls into the hoop, and then throw a frisbee at a target.
We had a lot of difficulty with the golf ball part, and had only just had a few throws of the highly unstable frisbee when the other team won the challenge.
The Main Event
The main objective of the day was for each team to build and then race a raft. After each challenge, the winning team got their pick of raft building supplies – first rope, then floation device (barrels or oversized milk bottles), then structural elements (pipe or bamboo). The winner of the fourth challenge gained a 10 second headstart for the race.
We had half an hour to build our raft. Since our team consisted mainly of software developers, our raft was – unsurprisingly – extremely over-engineered. It certainly looked ok when it started…
… but sadly, our knots weren’t anywhere near tight enough to hold together, and it didn’t take long before everything fell to pieces. We ended up asking what the minimum criteria was to qualify as a “raft”, which resulted in me simply swimming across the river whilst carrying an oar and pushing an empty barrel in front of me. It wasn’t the easiest method of swimming, though I think it was much harder for Cam who did the return length – it turns out he’s asthmatic!
The other team’s approach was to simply tie their oversized milk cartons together as tightly as possible, lie on top of them, and then kick their way across. And as usual, keeping things simple was the key to their success!
Though I’m sure the lesson of the day was supposed to be something along the lines of “Working together as a team yeilds better results”, the only lesson that I learned was that watching Survivor is good for your career. In fact, if everyone on our team was a Survivor fan, perhaps we would have done a little better!