More Absolutely Florida

You're booked for a stay in one of

Florida's fine resorts and looking

forward to some welcome R & R --

rest and relaxation. BUT, if your

employer is sending you, together

with a group of work colleagues,

then you're likely to be in line for the

three C's-- challenge, competition

and communication. Good-bye lazy

lounging-around days, hello

experiential learning!

Welcome to the world of action

learning also known as

corporate adventure training.

Mission Inn's Executive Training
Course helps participants explore
their strengths and weaknesses.
Forget ideas of military "boot camp"or survival training, there's nothing combative or punishing about these programs, unless you count the odd corn and callus. In fact many are structured as outrageous, fun activities that will test the mettle of people at all physical levels from super athlete to couch potato.

Organizations use the "learn by doing" concept as a powerful and effective powerful management tool. Whether it focuses on team members boosting each other over a 13-foot wall or crossing an imaginary alligator-ridden swamp, a good program will break down the barriers of internal competition in favor of teamwork and trust. There is lots of creative energy and excitement as participants solve problems, overcome challenges, learn effective communication, build teamwork and develop leadership skills that apply to work-related situations.

Grenelefe's Cardboard Boat Regatta
stimulates creativity.
Getting actively involved in the learning process can make a difference in how fast you learn and retain information. "People retain 20 per cent of what they hear, 50 per cent of what they write and 80 per cent of what they do." says Lance Giddens, of TeamWorks International, a an Orlando-based company that uses the innovative Experience Based Training and Development methods (EBTD).

You won't find such a thing as a typical program in experiential learning, each organization gets activities geared to their particular needs. There are common elements, however. You may be faced with adrenaline pumping activities - scaling cliffs or team towers and "high" initiatives that are 30-40 feet off the ground. You will do these with team mates climbing at the same time, supporting each other's progress, while pushing past fears and personal limitations.

Problem-solving exercises
such as the "Spider's Web"
build trust and teamwork.
The tasks are incrementally challenging and complex. Each challenge is presented in business language so that business issues are highlighted. The environment allows teams to deepen the quality and depth of their thinking around real-time business issues.

"Growth through Adventure" is the motto of Miami-based Project Challenge. Company principals Peter Lauritzen and Gino Coca use EBTD for a range of stimulating adventures -- Challenge Courses, TeamMachine Simulations, Build-A-Blimp, Sailing Regatta as well as Adventure-to-Go portability where they take the programs and equipment to parks, the beach and anywhere else suitable. Everyone gets into the act one way or another with ideas, support and the right spirit for problem-solving exercises such as the Giant Spider's Web, Acid River Crossing, Minefield, Mission from Mars and The Great Egg Drop. They're fun but the lesson for your group is that it takes successful planning, communicating, analytical thinking and appropriate leadership for a team to survive in a challenging environment.

Nick Conner, a professional business development broker with Nicholas International, says that action learning serves as an accelerated learning laboratory. "You'll cover more issues in two days than you would in two years in the classroom. You're more likely to buy in, be open to ideas when you're laughing and relaxed." He explains the learning cycle that starts with a goal -- an intellectual or physical challenge, moves to an activity that may involve conflict, personalities, frustration. Then comes debriefing when the group shares observations and extracts the learning elements. Finally at the transfer stage, the team spirit created by the experiences is transferred to the workplace. Ideally the process produces measurable job-related benefits.

Click here to take a tour of some of Florida's main centers for experiential learning.