Celebrating Our Team: Summer FADS Trip

It’s becoming something of a tradition for our studio to take off for a long weekend to celebrate studio successes and build camaraderie within and among our team.

Recently, we drove our instructors and staff to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on a gray and drizzly Friday morning. We caravanned the long highway journey from Michigan’s southeastern urban center to the Mackinac Bridge connecting the two peninsulas.

Because half my staff is not from Michigan – and actually, hails from overseas! – it’s imperative that we show them how beautiful our state is. We want them to love their job with our studio and also love their new geographic home.

Once we crossed the bridge, we stopped along Lake Michigan to view the waves and sandy beaches, and experience a true U.P. pasty. (Never had one? Read this to learn about this Midwestern treat.)

Our destination was a camp site with yurts on the shores of Lake Superior. When we arrived, it was still gray with howling winds. Before dinner, we played card games, a chance for everyone to stretch their legs, cut loose and bond.

Normally, we’re so busy running around, teaching lessons and seeing each other in passing, most of us never have a chance to just let loose, laugh and enjoy ourselves together. Later, we went out for dinner and drinks, then built a big bonfire that night and stayed up late talking and drinking and having a good time.

The next morning, we awoke to perfect, beautiful skies, a great day to go kayaking on the cold big lake. The gray rainy stuff added extra tension for everybody, as did the long journey, but it’s a good test to see how we work together as a team. When we arrived in that crummy weather, I let the instructors decide who was sleeping where, all of us divided amongst three yurts.

Breakfast was croissants and bagels, juice and coffee, and then we spent three hours kayaking on Lake Superior, being goofy, bonding, splashing each other, enjoying northern Michigan’s beautiful scenery.

Next was a riptide ride, in a pretty serious military jet boat that went so fast on 700 horsepower engines, we had to wear seat belts, as we flew across the water. It was like going on a roller coaster. Half the boat was doused with water, and we all had that adrenaline rush of moving fast and daring to face nature.

It was a blast, exhilarating. We finished the day with dinner and another campfire. The next day, we headed home, returning to routine but seeing each other differently.

These team trips are a fantastic way not only to reward my staff for hard work and hitting goals, but also to build camaraderie so we all feel that we are in this together.