Where it all began
The origin story of The Outdoors Group is one of friendship. Almost a decade ago, when the company began, it was just a handful of close friends with a shared dream and passion for accessible outdoor education for all. Over the last ten years, the company has grown from strength to strength and what started with just three people has turned into almost one hundred. Whilst the size of the team has grown dramatically, the feeling of being part of a family has remained with close-knit friendships being formed and fostered throughout all areas of the company.
A Missing Piece
Therefore, when covid-19 hit earlier this year and lockdown prohibited most face-to-face interactions; whilst the company not only survived but continued to grow, a lot of staff acutely felt the lack of comradeship that usually permeated every area of working life. Under normal circumstances we would hold termly staff days as well as social events such as Easter Egg hunts and spontaneous trips to the pub or the moors. All of this stopped as, quite rightly, only the most essential of gatherings for education, welfare or health reasons could continue.
Consequently, when restrictions started to ease and we began to look ahead to the next academic year, we were champing at the bit to gather together as a company for a day of CPD activities, teambuilding and a general catch up. Thus began an intense period of planning to make sure we could deliver a covid-secure day that was both informative, useful to staff but also good fun!
The Big Day
So, after some very thorough preparation, as the sun dawned over the woods at Exmouth Forest School on a mild Wednesday in early September, staff started to arrive, were strategically parked (it was like Tetris fitting in that many cars) and started to trickle down into the woods for what was arguably our biggest and best staff development day yet!
Thus followed a day filled with socially distanced speed-dating so we could get to know new staff (of which there were many), the biggest game of camouflage the woods has ever seen as well as mindfulness, CPD activities and company updates from our illustrious directors and company secretary. An (anonymous!) survey sent out afterwards to the 70+ in attendance seems to indicate that we fulfilled our brief of informative, interesting and enjoyable!
As the company continues to grow, maintaining that sense of community is a real priority for us – it’s one of our core values and it’s really important to us that as well as creating an awesome community within our learners, we create one within our team. We want our staff to feel valued and appreciated holistically rather than just for the work they do. A strong bond is what sparked the inception of The Outdoors Group and a strong bond is what will keep it a dynamic, flourishing and successful company, both from the perspectives of our learners and clients and from those working for and with us.
Author: Hannah Durdin, Administrator & Forest School Leader
Date: Thursday 17th September