More than an Outing: Design Camp

Michael McAghon | 01/24/2020

In our studio, we are organized in to practice disciplines: UX research, design, development and delivery. We constantly work together to inform and influence the project challenges we take on with our clients. While this blend of different skills and perspectives is critical for success, it’s also important to spend time to gel as a discipline, which we do weekly in Crit & Collab.

In addition, once a year the design team has an off-site outing to socialize outside of project work. Over time these excursions have been something we all look forward to; however, we are always looking for better ways to grow as a team. After months of detailed planning, we held our 2019 outing deep in the woods. I can recall three key aspects which made it our most successful and memorable outing ever.

  1. A fresh location

    We work in a city while crafting digital experiences in our studio, so we spend a lot of time looking at laptops and devices. Environmental contrast is a great way to make an outing as impactful as possible — so a simple decision was made early in the planning process to hold this year’s event in a more rural location. With many of our team members living and working in the city, this did stretch a bit outside of some people’s comfort zones, but again, an unfamiliar location gave us an interesting base to build the event upon.

  2. Thoughtful activities

    So what would we do in the woods? We wanted to use our time to connect and grow, so we established a framework to help guide us as we chose activities. Maintaining personal balance is important to me, and I wanted to reinforce that to my team. So we settled on a Mind (intellect)/Body (physicality)/Spirit (soul) framework. This gave us direction as we came up with simple, thoughtful, fun things to do.

  3. Make it your own

    What we came up with was “Design Camp.” We went to a state park, rented a pavilion and had a blast. We journaled, hiked and made crafts. We created custom stamps, bandanas and a hand-cut camp pennant. For the event organizers and me, creating the bespoke event was as rewarding as it was actually attending.

Thinking about what you do with your team outing in the midst of a framework, such as Mind/Body/Spirit, will help maximize your team bonding and growth. Our framework is flexible enough for any group to use with activities that make sense for your team — and you don’t have to go deep in the woods to do them!