Break Out of the Office Box: Uncommon adventures your team can do in a day.

REGION – If you're employed, you've probably – in one way or another, and maybe not by choice -participated in some type of team building activity. (And chances are, reading the words "team building" is already forcing flashbacks of trust falls and daylong meetings around the conference room table.) Is there hope? Is there a better way to foster creativity, and improve communication and productivity? In northern Michigan, with its vast natural and cultural opportunities, absolutely. Here, a host of unique ways to inspire and energize your team around the North:

GT Rocks

160 Hughes Dr

Traverse City

231.933.8229

gtrocks.org

Hit up the indoor climbing gym at GT Rocks in Traverse City for an intense afternoon of motivation, creative thinking and strength building. This just might be the perfect goal- setting exercise. Utilizing and building strength and flexibility, rock climbing creates a team challenge that is the ultimate mental sport, requiring very creative problem solving to make it to the top. GT Rocks has a full staff on hand and has all the appropriate climbing gear available for rent.

Habitat for Humanity

1129 Woodmere Ave. Suite A

Traverse City

231.941.4663

habitatvolunteer.blogspot.com

Whether you can pull the entire department out of the office for a full day or just a few employees on a regular basis, working on one of the Habitat for Humanity construction sites will benefit the entire team. Guided by an experienced Habitat staff, a team can put in some serious work and see some serious, tangible results. Department titles stay at the office with this type of team activity, putting everyone in an equal setting alongside each other.

Sand Sculpture Contest

National Cherry Festival

Traverse City

Beachside between the Open Space and the Volleyball Courts

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Collaborate with colleagues and take advantage of the festivities that surround the annual National Cherry Festival by working together to create a true sand masterpiece. The very first Sand Castle Tournament was nearly 47 years ago, and this fun, summer activity is still going strong. For years flocks of friends and families have joined forces on the beach in Traverse City to vie for the winning title. Why not a group of co-workers? Using only items found on the beach, creativity is a must for this team activity.

Cooks in the Kitchen Chateau Chantal

Northwestern Michigan College 15900 Rue de Vin

Oleson Center on NMC Main Campus Traverse City

231.995.1700 231.223.4110

nmc.edu/ees

Food can be a common bond for family, so why not embrace it with co-workers? Preparing a meal together is a true group effort that can foster better communication and rapport. And with such an abundance of local food producers and chefs in this region, tasty options are abundant. Among them? An array of one-day cooking classes are available at Chateau Chantal, as well as through Northwestern Michigan College's extension program, from comfort food to sushi rolls.

Zip line

at Boyne Mountain

One Boyne Mountain Road

Boyne Falls

231.549.6056

BOYNE.com

To zip line at Boyne Mountain is to feel empowered. And what better way to empower an entire department than to soar from heights measuring 50 ft high and 500 ft long, with the wind rushing by as you fly down the mountain at speeds up to 25 mph? Light climbing and hiking is required of riders when commuting from line to line in the series consisting of seven lines.

Frankfort Garden

Theatre

301 W. Main Street

Frankfort

231.352.7561

frankfortgardentheater.com

For your next department retreat, get out of the office. Leave the conference table and stale coffee behind and head to downtown Frankfort. Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery to spark the creativity or gain a little perspective. The Frankfort Garden Theatre is a beautifully renovated movie house dating back to 1923. Purchased in 2008 and re-opened in 2009, the theatre is now open year round showing first-run films as well as classics. With more than 5,000 square feet and 320 new seats, it is also equipped for computer and Internet-based presentations on the big screen.

TC Paint Ball

849 U.S. 31 South

Traverse City

231.943.0248

tcpaintball.com

Picture your entire department geared up and in full combat mode, ready for an intense, fast-paced team-oriented sport. TC Paint Ball is your destination, taking the other team out is the goal. Pressure and competition bring a team together, and communication and risk taking enable it to win. Fun for hardcore tournament ballers and novices.

Michigan Legacy Art Park

12500 Crystal Mountain Drive

Thompsonville

231.378.4963

michlegacyartpark.org

You could easily swing a conference table meeting in one of Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa's plush meeting rooms, but you'll want to leave time for an easy 1.6-mile hike through the on-site Michigan Legacay Art Park. More than 60 contemporary art sculptures pepper the trail, and if your group is so inspired you could even hold the meeting there; a small outdoor ampitheatre is in the park.

Snowshoe or Hike

Empire Bluff Trail

Empire

From M-22 going south of Empire, turn on Wilco Rd. for trailhead parking

Enjoy an outing with colleagues on the Empire Bluff Trail. It's a moderately hilly trail extending nearly 1.5 miles with the most spectacular views of Empire, the valley and the Lake Michigan shoreline. In winter, raise a toast at trail's end with thermoses of hot chocolate; in summer, tote along some lemonade or local wine.

Solace Spa Trapeze-Experience Boyne Mountain

8/20/10 to 8/23/10

One Boyne Mountain Road

Boyne Falls, Michigan 49713

231.549.7946

BOYNE.com

A once in a lifetime opportunity, The Trapeze-Experience teaches anyone – novices and 'fraidy cats alike – to swing through the air on a trapeze within one afternoon class. An annual event sponsored by the Solace Spa at Boyne Mountain, the Trapeze-Experience is challenging , exhilarating and a team-building adventure no one will forget. The program is led by a team of trained professionals that travel the country offering the opportunity to try acrobatics in the name of health. Because the program is only offered during a limited time, advanced reservations are necessary.

Legs Inn

6425 N. Lake Shore Dr.

Cross Village

(231) 526-2281

legsinn.com

Located in Cross Village, one of the oldest settlements in the state, Legs Inn has been in the Smolak family for the last 80 years. Built by Polish immigrant Stanely Smolak as an ode to nature and art, Legs Inn is a place you have to see to believe. The interior is swathed in ornate wood carvings, while the exterior is covered in rocks, and the roof is lined in stove legs. Overlooking Lake Michigan and serving authentic Polish food prepared from scratch, Legs Inn could make for an interesting lunch meeting or your next office retreat. BN

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