I had the pleasure of taking a class with Jim Grout, an industry veteran of more than 36 years and trainer of thousands of adventure educators from around the world. The session – When in Doubt, Give them your Heart – was about connecting on a personal level and forming solid relationships with our participants. This seems to me like an obvious foundational practice and on one level it is, but facilitators are often caught up in the pre-program assessment and facilitation planning stages that we sometimes forget that it doesn’t always matter if we pick the perfect initiative, sequence faultlessly, or process impeccably. Sometimes the greatest and richest part of the program is what we can offer another of ourselves.

Warp Speed! Toxic Waste! Wormhole! Penny Dropper! Knowledge is Power! Blind Shapes! Strange sounding names for group teambuilding challenges that function as an impetus in the corporate world for positive growth and development. Shane Sullards, founder of a team development company, led us through six portable initiatives and carried us through possible metaphors for each that could be useful in the corporate world.

One of the most fascinating classes I took, which will take me quite a bit of time to digest, was titled, “Saving the World, One Group at a Time.” Some of us have long suspected that we were doing good in the world by the work we see happing on the challenge course and this class sought to link together the “how” and “why” of that positive social change. Using examples from the occupation of Belarus by Nazi Germany to the heroic act of Sully Sullenberger’s landing of flight 1549 in the Hudson River, we explored the four critical behaviors that help people survive in dire situations. The idea is to plan challenge course activities to bring about these characteristics and link the processing piece to real-world situations.

So concludes another ACCT conference. I wish it has been three days longer. This conference is a great reminder as to the positive change we seek to facilitate on the challenge course, a fantastic way to share tips and tales as we seek to improve and hone our own skills, and a way to stay current on new equipment, policies, and procedures so that we can implement best practices to ensure the safety of our participants.

I hope to see familiar faces and new faces in February of 2014!