The University Record, February 18, 1998

Challenge Program offers on your site sessions

Recreational Sports staff members take a break from their normal routine to build a team of their own. The activities that trained staff members will bring to individual offices as part of the new Challenge Program mini-course include this one, in which team members try to get balls to roll down pieces of pipe and land in a coffee can.

The trick? Each team member is responsible for only one piece of pipe, the pipe is less than two feet long and the can is 15 feet away. The team must figure out together what their strategy is. John Swerdlow, Connie Ahrens, Mark Belson (hidden from view), Janet Wylie, Val Uzark and Jan Wells successfully got most of the balls in the can. Photo by Rebecca A. Doyle


By Rebecca A. Doyle

If swinging through the trees 40 feet from the ground or trying to boost yourself over a 12-foot wall isn't exactly your cup of tea, take heart.

While the high ropes course has been the hallmark of the Department of Recreational Sports' Challenge Program for years, it is no longer the only way to build teams within the workplace.

A low-impact, high-interest short version of the program will not only keep your feet planted firmly on the ground, it only takes two or three hours of your day and can be planned as part of a staff meeting right in your office.

"We've designed this program to give everyone a taste of the experience of team-building activities on their own site," says Janet Wylie, Challenge Program director. Specialists in group dynamics, corporate training and team process skills provide materials for the mini-courses and the instruction.

The mini-courses offered through the Challenge Program include sessions on communication/feedback, creative problem-solving, team dynamics and team styles. Each works on a valuable skill for interactions within the workplace, and the instructors help keep the atmosphere light and fun-filled. The mini-courses cost $33 per person and one trainer is provided for approximately every 10 people in the group.

Wylie stresses that team-building exercises in the mini-courses can be structured so that everyone can participate, regardless of physical restrictions.

"If you call us and tell us what you want to do and let us know what to plan for, we can find something that everybody can participate in," Wylie says.

This week, Wylie and her staff sent "tickets" out across campus to promote the new courses, each with a number that will be entered in a drawing for discounts on the programs. If you would like to book a program, receive a ticket or get more information about the mini-courses, call 936-0603 or visit the Web at www.recsports.umich.edu.