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April 12, 2016 by
Jay Medley
Got a group of near-strangers that you want to turn into a cohesive team? Skip the traditional team-building exercises (we’re looking at you, fact-about-me games and trust falls,) and try rock climbing.

Even if no one in your group has climbed before, or if you have people of different skill levels, rock climbing is the perfect team-building event for corporate groups, sports teams, church youth groups, and any other team situations.

Sure, you may start the event with a few traditional icebreakers, but once the event gets underway, there will be so much more opportunity for the team to grow and develop a deeper understanding of one another.

The team members don’t have to know anything about climbing when they walk into the gym. Gym staff will help them with their equipment and then lead them through a Climb Safe class (which is required for every new climber, even those who are just new to the gym.)

This will give them a greater understanding of climbing and safety practices so that they can be more confident and aware during the activities. Everyone will then be trained to belay each other (which is to hold the rope for another climber, which will support them if they slip from their holds.)

This is where the fun stuff really starts. Team members can be paired up so that one will belay while the other is climbing. There is a lot of teamwork and communication that goes on between a climber and belayer as they need to signal when they’ll be climbing and descending.

There’s also a lot of trust; you have to know that your belayer will catch you or you won’t be able to relax and enjoy the climb. Those on the ground will encourage climbers on the wall, shouting suggestions about the next hold to grab (which involves problem-solving skills.)

All on its own, rock climbing is already a great team building exercise. However, an instructor can lead you through more activities that will further boost the team mentality. These may be competitions like races, or could even communication exercises like a blindfolded climb where the belayer must tell the climber where the next hold is.

The team can also set goals and complete timed-activities that have real tie-ins to working environments. You can talk to the instructor before the event to plan out the most beneficial activities for your group to work on the skills you’re looking to develop and the behaviors you’re looking to bring out. During these activities, climbers will have a new appreciation for what they and their teammates can accomplish.

Climbing is such a different activity and the gym is such a different environment from a work space, sports field, or church, that it can really make them see teammates in a different light. It may put a new perspective on their relationships and interactions.

In addition, they will have learned to communicate with each other. This will make them all more comfortable with each other and gives them shared memories that they can reminisce over.

Nothing beats rock climbing as a way for your team to get to know each other and grow their skill set together. Talk to your local rock climbing gym today to schedule your next event.

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