For companies and organizations looking to give back while gathering for meetings and incentive trips, here are several great options for corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives that help build cohesive teams that care.
OUT IN NATURE
Not only does Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino provide groups with more than 50,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space, the property links groups with a cause that is near and dear to area residents’ hearts. Located in Incline Village, Nevada, Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe works closely with the Sugar Pine Foundation, a local organization dedicated to saving Lake Tahoe’s sugar pine trees and other white pines.
The property helps coordinate all the details of trail outings and plantings Sugar Pine Foundation representatives and can arrange for a take-home gift of a baby sugar pine for each meeting attendee. Recently, the Hyatt Convention Alliance, made up of directors from Hyatts across the country, met in Tahoe to encourage working together as a leadership group. “What better way to bond than to serve the community and experience nature Tahoe-style? The entire group participated in a planting and met with Tahoe locals who helped to explain the importance of the planting and the area’s natural resources and shared their passion with the group,” says Brian Lang, the resort’s director of sales, marketing and events.
In two California national parks where trees also play a significant role, corporate groups can lend a hand through Nature Corps. “We have teamed up with a number of corporations whose employees have volunteered on a number of critical conservation projects in parks such as Yosemite and Sequoia. This year our corporate partners are excited to help out in preparation for the National Park Service’s centennial celebration,” says Executive Director Mark Landon, who created Nature Corps in 1987 to engage volunteers in the stewardship of America’s state and national parks.
Nature Corps handles all aspects of a three-to seven-day company outings, providing team leaders, team-building experts, logistical support, camping gear, gourmet meals prepared by area chefs, photographers, videographers, recreation equipment, the option of adding nature and photographer tours, and even public relations. “We try to make it a turnkey event for an organization,” he says. Part of the cost of sponsoring an employee outing goes to programming for low-income student volunteers who can take part in five-day adventures to gain leadership and nature skills and make an impact in parks.
Chevron employees have taken part in environmental projects in California’s state and national parks for more than two decades. “It has become part of their corporate culture,” Landon notes.
Associations also do their part in supporting good causes. The Colorado Police and Fire Athletic Games—held in Breckenridge in 2010, 2013 and 2016—has donated funds every year to local organizations such as Summit Education Foundation and Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, says Donna Horii, director of sales for the Breckenridge Tourism Office. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the Colorado Police and Fire Athletic Association selected Summit Stix Lacrosse Club, which provided volunteers during the Aug. 1-7 event.
INVOLVING RECIPIENTS CBST
Adventures offers wilderness and urban team-building with a focus on Colorado destinations, Park City, Scottsdale and wherever clients want the company’s assistance. After working more than 20 years in software sales, Jay Irwin purchased the CBST Adventures more than a year ago to help companies contribute in meaningful ways. “It used to be when we thought of giving back, we would pack backpacks and build bikes to give to kids. I am working to shift that dynamic,” he says. “Helping the less fortunate has been the mantra of the past. We want recipients to be part of the event.”
For GISI’s annual meeting and 25th anniversary held in Keystone, the company opted for a Community Impact Amazing Race with challenges such as Rock Wall Name Game, Paintball Sharpshooter and Human Hungry Hippos that were facilitated by Denver-based cityWILD students. The climbing and camping gear used for the competition were donated to this youth leadership development nonprofit. Taking to heart that the holidays is a time for giving, the leadership team at Solidyn Solutions, an engineering services company, noticed that Keystone Resorts was offering a free Community Impact team-building activity through CBST Adventures with a group meeting package and hosted a holiday party there. Solidyn employees and their families (a total of more than 120 participants and 13 teams) arrived to find $5,000 worth of food purchased by the company waiting for them to build 15 holes of championship worthy mini-golf.
“The children were ecstatic, and the engineers were even more thrilled. And if you’ve never seen engineers and their families building out a miniature golf course, it is a sight to behold. I’ve never seen so much creativity and design in one of our events,” Irwin says.
Eleven students taking part in cityWILD were hired to assist and were given the responsibility to go into their neighborhoods and distribute the food where it would make the greatest difference. The other half of the food went to Jefferson County Action Center. He recalls one of the cityWILD students saying, “That was so much fun working the event, but what’s going to be more fun is distributing this food out into my community. It’s going to make such a huge impact on Christmas for my neighbors, and I know exactly who needs it the most.”
A few years ago, CBST helped a corporate group organize a project at the animal shelter in Frisco, Colorado, and more recently staged an Amazing Race for the No Barriers 2015 summit attended by 1,500 and held in Park City, Utah, and again in 2016 at the gathering in Copper Mountain, Colorado. “We also have worked with the National Abilities Center in Park City and helped kids with horse therapy,” he notes. “A corporate group made it part of their meeting.”
Additional Community Impact options CBST offers are Boot Camp Donation Challenge, Gift of Giving GPS Quest, Trail Maintenance Team Adventure, Built for Need Bicycle Challenge, Community Gardens and Camper Quest.
With nearly 55,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and function space and located on 500 acres of the Santa Ana Pueblo between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico, Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa offers a unique and authentically Western CSR program through Tamaya Horse Rehabilitation Program. The Stables at Tamaya founded the nonprofit in 2013 when drought and economic recession resulted in many New Mexico ranchers and farmers being unable to care for their horses and thousands being abandoned or neglected. The organization rescues, rehabilitates and gives these equines a second chance and provides corporate groups the opportunity to volunteer at the stables by building fences, cleaning stalls, brushing horses, oiling saddles and even adopting a horse. At a certain donation level, a group receives a private rodeo and dinner at the stables.
While 100 ABMI volunteers spent a morning at the stables replacing the fence around the rodeo arena, they noticed that the facility didn’t have a power washer so donated one and $6,000 worth of other goods. Money Concepts International, Inc. adopted a horse, named him Dollar and incorporated Dollar into their entire program. “Connie, the director of the stables, brought him up to the meeting space during breaks so the attendees could see him and take photos. Their final group dinner was held at the Cottonwoods Pavilion. It was a chuck-wagon-style dinner, and Dollar came to that event as well,” says Jolene Mauer, PR and marketing manager for Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa.
These examples show that plugging into local causes often strikes a chord with attendees, resulting in an activity that lives long into the future.
Suds & Superheroes
Here are a few more ideas that are high on community service impact and can be implemented in a variety of destinations, perhaps with your own mountain twist!
Geoteaming is the exclusive provider of team-building for Clean The World. First, participants learn a six-step system about how to increase performance and then set to work building hygiene kits from Clean The World supplies (repurposed from hotel amenities) in a race for accuracy and speed. Sound Physicians and Denver Rescue Mission came together with 250 people divided up into 42 teams that built 2,520 hygiene kits in less than two hours. Seattle-based Geoteaming used an app during the event to take photos of the progress being made by the teams and built a digital slideshow to celebrate the conclusion. Denver Rescue Mission’s executive director spoke about the organization and how the kits would make a big impact.
Wise Guys Events, located in Los Angeles, challenges groups to go from being just colleagues to becoming the justice league with its newest CSR teambuilding activity: Superhero Academy. The outside activity features fun games where participants learn to leap over a tall building, smash atoms like the Hulk, take on a super persona and cape, and prepare a video care package that is bundled with gifts and delivered to patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles or a charitable recipient of the client’s choosing.