This past Saturday, I joined my fellow members of the Young Lawyers Section Council of the Maryland State Bar Association at Terrapin Adventures in Savage for a day of team-building exercises and fun.
Our first activity was a rock-paper-scissors tournament. If you lost, you had to run behind the person who beat you and cheering them on. By the end, the two finalists were surrounded by a pack of supporters, chanting their names.
The next activity was called “Alaskan Baseball” and involved one team throwing a plastic cat as far as possible and huddling in a tight little circle as one teammate ran around the circle to score “runs.” No, you did not read that wrong — there were 30 or so young lawyers throwing a plastic cat in a parking lot.
As soon as the cat was thrown, the other team would rush in a massive stampede to retrieve it. Once the other team got the cat, they had to form a single file line and pass the cat to the end of the line in an over-under formation.
After the cat was passed to the last teammate, that person would throw the cat and yell, “Cat’s out!” That team would form a circle and attempt to score runs. While I should mention that no live cats were injured during the game, there were some sweaty, sore young lawyers panting on the parking lot at the conclusion of the game.
We then split into two groups for some more “team building.” The first exercise involved more plastic toys called a “Who’s It” and a “What’s It.” The teams sat in circles and had to use a complex set of rules to get the toys around the circle. I still don’t fully understand them and, along with my co-chair of the Resolutions Committee, Chad Spencer, was often a cause of the breakdown.
We then had to use a rope swing to get our team from one side of a “lava pit” (solid ground) to the other without anyone touching the ground. The catch was that we had to land on some tree stumps on the other side and there weren’t nearly enough for the 14 of us. Suffice it to say we all got very close.
The next exercise involved lining up wooden planks to get across an “alligator swamp” (again solid ground). The three rules were that the entire team had to be on the boards before any one teammate could cross the finish line at the other end of the swamp, that the boards could be no more than 6 inches apart, and that the alligator could eat a plank if someone was not touching it (meaning we’d have to work with one less plank to get across).
When we got to the end of the challenge, no one could remember whether we were supposed to pick up the boards and bring them with us over the finish line. In typical young lawyer fashion, we decided to play it safe and bring them over… just in case.
We played one more game and then headed inside for lunch and our substantive meeting. After lunch, we headed out to the zip line course.
First, there was a giant swing on which three people were clipped in with harnesses. We were then pulled backwards and up a hill. At the top, the person on the far right pulled a string to release us and off we went to our deaths… or so it felt. The sensation was like being on a Pirate Ship ride on some serious steroids.
When I got off the swing, I was physically shaking, which I attribute to the thoughts I had at the top of the swing, just before we were released. I wondered whether I was clipped into the swing; I was so nervous and anxious, I was not paying attention as we climbed on and the guide secured the swing. I then wondered, as I tightened my grip on the swing, whether I was strong enough to hold onto the swing if I were, in fact, not clipped to it. I regretted not getting to the gym more often this summer and working my upper body. And, with that, I heard the rope crack and we were released.
The final event was a zip line. We climbed a ladder to a platform, shimmied across a tight rope, reached another platform and jumped from there to a zip line along a tree line. Jumping from that platform was the most unnatural thing to do, but once the harness engaged, it felt just like sitting on a swing at a playground (but not like a giant, three-person swing of death). This was much more my speed.
Overall, the day was a lot of fun and took us all out of our comfort zones. We were forced to come together as a team with people we’d only just met. This was not only a mental process, but a physical one. We often had to reach out for someone’s hand or put our arms around them to complete the challenge.
The swing and the zip line took the comfort zone thing to an entirely different level. As scary as it was, though, our group cheered on each individual as we faced our fears and “released.” Not one person chickened out and I am certain that this is because of the support of the group.
I’m looking forward to working with this Section Council this year. What a great group of people!
(Special thanks to Kimberly H. Neal, our treasurer, who provided the photography for this blog and is in the yellow shirt, jumping from the platform.)