Out of the Office, Jacksonville Brings Colleagues Out of Their Shells

The notion of team-building exercises evokes visions of casual Fridays, caffeinated employees trying desperately to summon the right motivational quip, and lunch on the house.

By Kieran Kern

Today’s businesses are always looking for new ways to connect with their employees without the stereotypical trust falls and rubber chicken. It’s also a great way to relieve some of the tension that’s been building between the cubicles.

Here are some really cool outside-the-box opportunities in the Jacksonville area to bring teams closer in unexpected ways.

Sweet Pete’s Candy

The Sweet Pete's experience lightens the mood; guests laugh and relax as they work together creating candies.” —Allison Behringer, owner

Pure imagination is alive and well at Sweet Pete’s Candy. With customizable packages, teams from 10 to 100 can flex their creativity by pulling taffy and lollipops, making chocolate bars and learning how to pair chocolate with wine.

The camaraderie fostered through creating and enjoying candy is what keeps owner Pete (and his wife Allison) Behringer so engaged. “It brings joy to my life when I see others enjoying our candy,” he said.

Kayak Amelia

Nothing invigorates the spirit like the great outdoors. Kayak Amelia has experiences ranging from mind, body and spirit to biking, kayaking, eco-tours, Segway tours and stand-up paddleboarding. Groups of 10 to 40 (based on the activity) can get out in nature for an unforgettable shared experience. Challenges that work on leadership and communication skills are great ways to get teams working together.

Owner Jody Hetchka suggests challenges such as a raft-building competition and racing kayaks blindfolded, guided only by the voice of a teammate sharing your kayak. Kayak Amelia will work to accommodate people with different skill levels and abilities—so everyone can join in on the fun.

The tours offer an in-depth appreciation for Jacksonville’s natural beauty as all Kayak Amelia guides are Florida Master Naturalists.

Backwater Fishing Adventures

Being out on the water allows teams to be at ease and forget about work for a while. They go back into the world in a relaxed state of mind.” —Captain David Borries

If your team is always talking about the one that got away, Backwater Fishing Adventures gives them the opportunity to hook the really big fish they’ve been dreaming of. Captain David Borries’ team can take teams between three and 60 on the adventure of their lives through Northeast Florida's Intracoastal Waterways, creeks and fishing holes for trout, reds, flounder and more.

Troll these local waterways on 18-foot flats boats with poling platforms and trolling motors to get back into the flats and small feeder creeks. No one fishes alone in North Florida; manatees, ospreys, egrets and dolphins are sure to be spotted over the course of the tour. Up the competitive spirit with a fishing derby—who caught the biggest, the most or maybe even the smallest.

At the end of the day, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor by bringing your catch to Billy’s Boathouse Grill and they’ll grill it up for you. How awesome is that?

The Improv Effect

When applied improv is woven into the culture of a company, it instills a safe place for creative change-makers to energize, collaborate, and produce innovations. Our experiential courses and challenges give participants a way to discover the importance of teamwork, effective communication skills, creativity and innovation.” —Jessie Shternshus, Founder

The Improv Effect was founded by former Disney and Sesame Street employee, Jessie Shternshus, and is based on one simple principle: Help businesses reach their full potential by means of interpersonal-communication skills training. And for eight years that’s precisely what it has done for businesses in Jacksonville and across the country.

With an impressive track record and a list of top-tier clients from Groupon and Fidelity Investments to Johnson & Johnson, Getty Images, The PGA Tour and Crayola, Shternshus empowers her staff to lead teams and organizations in the basics of improvisation—tailored to fit your company’s needs.

Whether the focus is on team building exercises or creative problem solving, sales or relationship dynamics, each workshop demonstrates a unique combination of leadership training and adaptive communication techniques aimed at directly impacting your bottom line.

Visit The Improv Effect’s YouTube channel for an inside look at some of its classes and to listen to talks and testimonials from current and former Improv Effect students.

Adventure Landing and Shipwreck Island Waterpark

What better place to feel like a kid again than at the largest family entertainment center in Jacksonville. The Adventure Landing team creates events that promote team unity and spirit and boost morale. The park’s team-building coordinator administers the event, which means everyone gets to participate.

One of the popular packages is Amazing Adventure, inspired by the popular reality show The Amazing Race. You’ll receive clues to get to different destinations within the park incorporating rides, games and obstacles to foster teamwork and communication. Employees of all ability levels are able to participate. Each race is customized to the specific needs of the company.

The Fun Factor package features three main events from the plethora of in-the-park activities that include Adventure Golf, team strategizing at laser tag, and putting the pedal to the metal at the Speedway.

Spending time out of the office is a great way to recharge the batteries, let your guard down and leave expectations behind—and what better way to do that than by getting outdoors to enjoy Jacksonville. You’re guaranteed to come out of these team-building exercises with a new outlook on working together.

About the Author