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Colorado Nonprofit Association Team Connects During Digital Workless Retreat

Jul 29, 2020
Computer with digtal meeting next to a cup of coffee on a wooden table

Colorado Nonprofit Association was a part of something extraordinary earlier this month. An adventurous three-person Creative Committee invented and presented the first-ever "Super Funtime Jamboree", a day-long digital retreat and escape from the monotony of the traditional work-from-home workday. 

What occurred on July 2nd, 2020, was a unique and powerful online experience that was both refreshing and authentic.

The digital atmosphere was welcoming, joy-filled, and low pressure. The Creative Committee set and shared a flexible agenda of retreat activities in advance, including a printed invitation delivered to each team member via the postal service. Team members entered the designated Zoom room at their convenience and participated at their comfort level. And, all involved reported feeling a real sense of belonging.

Logistically, the jamboree featured three parts: morning, noon, and happy hour. Each member of the Creative Committee coordinated and hosted a different part of the day, which reflected the individuality of the organizers and also enabled each committee member to participate when they weren't hosting. All of the jamboree's activities were optional yet encouraged, and the three parts honored the different ways team members show up throughout the day. 

Part One: Morning | Amber Coté, Creative Committee Member

The Super Funtime Jamboree opened with morning poetry readings and guided kindness meditation. Followed by a bio break, and then a virtual tour of Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary, meeting new friends (cows, pigs, sheep, llamas, goats, turkeys, chickens, and horses) while learning about sanctuary operations. 

The morning came to a close with team members picking a question category (mild, medium and hot) that varied from surface-level, to personal, and to intimate, and then sharing their answer, with space for the team to reflect and contribute. 

Part Two: Noon | Lindsay Newman, Creative Committee Member

The afternoon featured an opportunity to share our team member's physical spaces, mess and all, via virtual home tours.

After the mini home-tours, to the surprise of all, team members participated in a classic scavenger hunt with a twist. Team members gathered a list of items from their homes to share on-screen. To the surprise of all, the hunt catalyzed an hour (or more) of engaging conversations, sharing childhood memories, and connecting over nostalgic stories.

Part Three: Happy Hour | Rachel Childs, Creative Committee Member

Happy hour was full of energy, enthusiasm, and good cheer. The third part of the jamboree began with an impromptu dance party, followed by team members showing off their abilities during a talent show, featuring hidden flair and gifts from humans and animals alike. 

Next, an eight-round, custom-designed trivia event, complete with a prize, tested the team's knowledge and competitive spirit. Then with drinks and more dancing, the Colorado Nonprofit Association team closed the day and "left the meeting" with waves, positive vibes, reflection, and gratitude. 

Creative Committee's Perspective: Amber Coté, Director of Education and Service Enterprise

Who would have thought a staff retreat on Zoom could be so personal and intimate? It is the last thing I would've guessed if someone told me we'd be doing something like that earlier this year. 

The farm tour was educational, hilarious, and hope-filled. For some of our team who are allergic to many things you find on a farm, they were able to enjoy the experience without breaking into hives. 

The questions at the end of the morning brought out incredible energy and conversation. We laughed and cried, learned new things about one another, held space for each other, and bonded in the ways that being brave and getting vulnerable does so well. I gained so much insight into the lives of the people I call team members. And I was genuinely heard and seen; I felt accepted and truly valued by them.

Many things have been hard and challenging about these times, but this experience was one of the brightest spots in "the time of COVID." I respected and cared for this incredible group of people before, but now I feel a profound unity and understanding with them that supersedes the distance between us.

I highly recommend spending some time making the best of the technology you're using to do your work also to have fun together. We all need it more than ever, and it may just get us to the other side of this experience stronger and more connected. 

Creative Committee's Perspective: Lindsay Newman, Manager of Partnership Engagement

As a planner, I knew I could lean on my committee team for covering for me if there were any tech difficulties or mishaps. 

We worked with our strengths. We knew our personalities lent to the different planned activities. For example, Amber is adept at creating intentional and harboring space. Rachel used her quick wit and trivia knowledge to host an epic evening.

As a participant, I was excited to see how things would go and who would show up for different events. It started with some grounded and calming poetry and meditation. The Luvin Arms Animal Sanctuary farm tour made me feel joyful and excited.

I learned that our office manager liked biographies, and our CEO worked from his basement, surrounded by his son's old toys and trophies. I learned about past jobs of my coworkers, and how many of us still had remnants of our baby-blankets. Throughout I felt thoughtful, connected, full of goodwill towards my coworkers.

I felt genuinely connected to people who were far away, which exceeded my expectation. We did not need to pack the day full of activities to make sure people stayed engaged, and generally, the staff showed up willing to be vulnerable and share.

Creative Committee's Perspective: Rachel Childs, Communications Coordinator

The idea of creating a day for staff initially made me feel anxious. How do you create a day that makes everyone feel included, sparks joy, and keeps them entertained for an entire workday, and without being in the same room? Thankfully, I was part of a committee of creatives that saw this as an opportunity rather than a hindrance. 

My fellow Super Funtime Jamboree committee members and I also pointed out each other's strengths and how they fit into the day. For example, Amber and Lindsay knew I loved trivia, which made it easy to suggest that I plan the last third of the day. That made it easy to be individuals and create a more enthusiastic experience for all.

Planning was surprisingly easy once we found the components of the day. But the implementation opened everyone up. The committee did not record the event, had no assignments, and whoever showed up was welcome to be 100% themselves.

The part that filled my heart with joy was the happy hour where people could let loose and be silly. Even after a day of connection, it was incredible that people wanted to continue the jamboree well into the night. 

My favorite part of the day was listening to people speak from their hearts about their inner lives. The scavenger hunt allowed us to reveal what they truly love and appreciate in their personal spaces, even the sod in their yards. It was an honor and a privilege to exchange treasures and memories.

Staff Testimonial:  Mariah Taylor, Membership Coordinator

I thought the Super Funtime Jamboree was amazing! It was just that-super fun! I told some friends and family about the day, and the first question from them that kept coming up was, "how do you have a bonding day over Zoom?"

Every time they would ask, I would laugh and show them my flyer. It truly was a fun day packed with various types of activities that staff could choose to attend if they felt comfortable. I loved getting to know my coworkers in spaces we would have never gotten to before. Having the fun day over Zoom and in the comfort of our own homes, I think, made everyone feel more comfortable with sharing their personal experiences, thoughts, spaces, etc.

I definitely am glad that I was able to participate and get to know my coworkers better. I feel as though my friendships with my coworkers have grown tremendously, and I look forward to our next Super Funtime Jamboree.

Staff Testimonial: Maureen Maycheco, Communications Director

I was pleasantly surprised by how connected I felt with our team during the Super Funtime Jamboree, even though we were Zooming. It was incredible to use the platform to connect personally and to learn more about each other. Morning meditation shifted the entire way I think about shared space, as well as how I facilitate/lead meetings. I was shocked by the power of meditating as a team on a Zoom call. 

I loved that the schedule was prepared and shared, and I loved the flexibility and adaptability even more. I loved the hard copy invite that was mailed to me... too cute. I loved the scavenger hunt activity, the questions activity, and trivia! I am so glad it ended with a happy hour. I was blown away by the origami skills shared by Mel via the talent portion of the day. Just... wow. 

All around excellent, amazing, incredible jamboree, and I can't wait for the next one! 

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