Blue Mountain Summit FAM Tour

IMG_2630On July 14 and 15 Summit Team Building and Blue Mountain resorts partnered together to offer a unique FAM tour. For those of you that are not familiar with what a Fam tour is it is a short form term for Familiarization tour. Hotel, meeting, conference and resort properties frequently invite event planners and potential clients for a FAM tour. Essentially this is a showcase or a sales presentation. The idea is to provide the participant with all the information they need to book the facility for a future meeting or event, and to build a relationship which is the first and most important step in the sales process.

Together Summit and Blue Mountain designed a FAM that was fun, engaging and educational. 26 participants arrived on the Thursday for a beautiful reception and dinner in the village Conference Centre Atrium. This beautiful space with massive windows and a comfortable patio was set with stunning table décor and the locally inspired meal was tasty and unique. After dinner the group retired to the Silver Creek Room for desert and to be entertained by Scott Kress and his Learning in Thin Air Keynote.

This gripping presentation motivated the group for an early morning hike up Blue Mountain the next morning. Setting off at 6:30 am the group hiked the Village Way trail winding through the beautiful forested hills of Blue Mountain to the top of the Niagara Escarpment. A fun and unexpected surprise was to meet over 300 participants of the annual meeting of the fitness group November Project. They welcomed us into their group as we all walked back to the base of the mountain together. Truly inspiring!

After that we started with an amazing breakfast then kicked off the morning with some team development exercises. At Summit we view team development as the training oriented workshops that help teams and individuals perform at a higher level based on a better understanding of the tools, strategy and theory behind high performance. The group would need this warm-up as they were about to embark on a custom designed Blue Mountain Quest.

The Blue Mountain Quest is one of the unique and custom team building programs Summit has designed for Blue Mountain. This scavenger hunt based program puts the groups into smaller competitive teams and challenges them to find various locations on the property, to complete strategic team challenges, and to capture it all with creative photos. In this case we replaced the standard FAM walk about with a Blue Mountain Quest designed to take the group to over 15 different locations on the resort property where they would meet Blue Mountain team members including the Head Chef, Conference Services Manger, AV Technicians, and see the various accommodation rooms, meeting rooms, dining venues, and recreation and team building attractions along the way.

The Quest ended with a ride up the gondola to the top of the escarpment for a lunch with a beautiful view. A great time was had by all and this new and improved FAM tour was deemed to be a winner!

Feeling left out? Don’t worry, this was not the last of the Blue Mountain Summit FAM Tours. We will be hosting similar events a few times a year. Keep in touch to learn of our next dates.

Make the Most of Your Next Meeting

Team Development Programs“Meetings get a bad rap, and deservedly so – most are disorganized and distracted. But they can be a critical tool for getting everyone on the same page.”

-Justin Rosenstein

Studies show that meetings fill an increasing number of hours in the average workday yet, according to most employees, they are responsible for more wasted time than office politics, social media or chatting with co-workers. This is sobering in light of a 1996 whitepaper by MCI called “Meetings in America” which reported there were 13 million business meetings a day in the USA. Today, that is likely a much bigger number.

But meetings are also a necessary part of any business. They can help people share information, see the bigger picture and find novel ways to collaborate and problem solve. From a simple team building perspective, meetings can provide people with time together; time to get to know one another and build a shared history. With a bit of planning, your meetings will leave employees with a sense of shared purpose and clarity around how best to tackle the job at hand.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article: Run Meetings That Are Fair to Introverts, Women, and Remote Workers, Renee Cullinan discusses the lost opportunities leaders and teams experience when they unconsciously create a meeting environment that is not inclusive to all participants.

Introverts are often overlooked and unheard from in a typical noisy and free flowing team meetings. The extroverts, who talk to think, do not provide the time or the opportunity for the introverts, who think to talk, to process, think about and to respond. The introverts are then labeled as unengaged or less knowledgeable and as a result underutilized and undervalued in meetings.

Conference calls are notoriously unproductive and provide a breeding ground for multi-tasking, day dreaming, and disengagement. On most conference calls there are only a few active participants and the rest merely ‘listen’. As a reality of businesses with geographically separated team members, a leader must focus on strategies to make the dreaded conference call engaging and to provide strategies to encourage full participation for all participants.

Whether you like to admit it or not women still struggle in today’s workplace. Countless studies have shown that women are more likely to be interrupted in a meeting or to have their ideas taken less seriously. In fact a taxonomy of terms such as “manterrupting”, “mansplaining”, and “bropropriating” has emerged to identify common meeting behaviours.

As a leader you are tasked with getting the most from your teams and running a productive meeting is a critical tool you use. When you are deliberate and design a meeting to include all team members equally you can realize much greater gains.

Feature Program: Reaching New Heights Blue Mountain

DSC_0158Summit Team Building is the official team building partner of Blue Mountain resort. Although we deliver team building program at any location you request, Blue Mountain provides us with some unique features which we can build a team building program around.

The Reaching New Heights team building program at Blue Mountain takes place on the Blue Mountain Woodlot Ropes Course. This program is designed to build strong trusting relationships among team members, to promote communication and team problem solving skills, and to provide a fun and inspirational environment for individuals to step outside their comfort zones and accomplish something truly memorable.

Summit utilizes the Woodlot Ropes Course which is a challenge course built on telephone poles and presents over 30 unique and challenging obstacles. There is a wide variety of challenges to meet almost anyone’s needs. Starting just feet from the ground and maxing out at close to 40 feet in the air all challenges are designed for the physical abilities of the average adult. Translation: you do not need to be a superstar athlete or in top physical shape to participate. This program is open to almost all physical abilities and presents options of different challenge for those looking for a greater challenge or something on the milder side.

We begin this team building program with a few warm up exercises to focus the team on teamwork, communication and building trust. We then put on harnesses and helmets and make our way to the course. The first challenge is a team challenge where the team must set a goal and transport product to customer. In this case the products are cups of water and the customer is a bucket at the end of the first section of ropes course. This is a challenge that must be approached as a team and only once the team begins to collaborate and communicate are they successful.

This earns them their pass to the high course for those that choose to embark on this adventure. Working in groups of three, the participants navigate a series of fun and exciting high ropes challenges. At each challenge there are instructions asking them to work together in a specific way. This exhilarating experience is a true bonding experience building trust, relationship, confidence, problem solving, and communication within the team.

Contact us today to learn more about the reaching New Heights team building program at Blue Mountain resort.


South Pole Expedition Announcement

NPSummit President Scott Kress is always looking for his next adventure. As you may know, Scott has summited Mount Everest, climbed the 7 Summits (the highest point on each continent), skied to the magnetic North Pole, and guided ill and injured Canadian soldiers on various expeditions through the charity True Patriot Love.

After climbing Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica, for the second time this past January, Scott decided he wanted to see more of Antarctica.

Scott and three other adventurers have set a plan in motion to ski to the South Pole and to do it as what is referred to as an unassisted and unsupported expedition style. What this means is the team will have no assistance beyond their own power (no sled dogs, kites, or machines of any kind) and will not access any outside support once the expedition begins. This means all the equipment, food, fuel and supplies the team will need for the entire expedition will be with them from the start. No re-supply part way.

You may be thinking this is not that big a deal, but what the team is attempting to do has been done by fewer than 40 people in history. This epic journey begins at the Ronne Ice Shelf on the edge of the frozen Antarctic continent and travels through remote, challenging and unexplored terrain, for almost 1000km to reach the South Pole. This scenic, but committing route skirts the western flank of the massive Foundation Ice Stream and the Transantarctic Mountains, then turns south toward the Pole.

The team will use cross-country skis and pull their supplies in sleds weighing in excess of 200 pounds as they travel for 45-50 days in temperatures ranging from -20c to -40c without the wind-chill added by the constant Antarctic katabatic winds.

No Canadian has ever skied to the South Pole via the route the team will travel and when successful Kress will become one of less than 45 people in the world to complete what is referred to as the Adventure Grand Slam – people who have climbed the 7 Summits and skied to the North Pole and the South Pole.

This adventure will begin in mid-November and stay tuned for more details as the expedition preparation progresses.

Sponsorship opportunities are available if you see a way to use this expedition to build performance within your organization.

Scott Kress-Where Are You Now?

Scott Kress. Summit Team Building. Inger MacKenzie Photography. Neighbours of Joshua Creek magazine.

Scott Kress.
Summit Team Building.

I was recently interviewed for the Lakehead University Social Sciences & Humanities Newsletter. This is part of their “where are you now” profile of past graduates.

Lakehead University gave me the environment to thrive and where I learned to climb. These two elements have directly lead to where I am today as the founder of Summit Team Building. It was at university that I really started to learn about team and leadership and my role, skills and competencies in both. These beginnings would go on to help me form my philosophies around team and leadership performance which build the foundation of all that we do here at Summit Team Building.

To read article please click here.



Kickstart Kilimanjaro

Amboseli_national park_back_drop_mount_kilimanjaro-tanzaniaThis July Summit President Scott Kress will lead a climb of Kilimanjaro. Scott has climbed Kilimanjaro two times previously and is keen to return. This climb is part of the Kickstart program at Medcan. This program is designed to kickstart a lifestyle change for those that need it and to promote fitness, healthy nutrition, and leading an active and healthy life.

In Scott’s opinion Kilimanjaro presents the perfect combination of factors for the novice climber; and this is why it is so popular. The Altitude of Kilimanjaro at 5895m (19,341ft) is high enough that it provides exposure to high altitude and the challenges that accompany this, but it is not so high as to be overly difficult or dangerous. There is no technical climbing involved so novice adventures can do it. The route is physically demanding so that when one makes it to the summit there is a real and justifiable sense of accomplishment and easy enough that most people can do it provided they have put in the training beforehand. And lastly beyond the dangers of high altitude sickness there are no real objective hazards on the mountain.

Climbing Kilimanjaro is a study in ecology like few other places on earth. One starts in the low African plains and then as you climb higher you go through multiple eco zones essentially travelling from the plains to an arctic glaciated environment. The topography and the flora and fauna as you trek each day is spectacular and ever changing.

The keys to success on Kilimanjaro, although there is never any guarantee, are fitness and acclimatization.

Most people can acclimatize to the altitude of Kilimanjaro given the appropriate amount of time. Time is what your body needs to make the necessary physiological adjustments to the lower levels of available oxygen and the decrease in pressure. There are guiding companies offering 4 and 5 day climbs and I have a friend that did it in 48 hours, but for most people this would be asking for trouble. A 7-8 day trip is best for most people. This relaxed pace allows the body to adjust slowly and thus not revolt against a sudden change in altitude.IMG_4275

Fitness is relative for each person, but plan to be in the best shape of your life. You may not need this level of conditioning, but it is great to set as a goal and the better shape you are in the more you will enjoy the climb. Fitness does not influence how your body adapts to altitude, but it is pretty much a prerequisite for success.

All in all Kilimanjaro is a great experience. Prepare for it to be busy with other aspiring adventurers  and pack your patience as some sections of the trail may become congested.

If you are interested to join Scott on this climb please contact him through this website.


New Team Development Program – Engineered Strong

engineeredstrongSummit Team Building is excited to announce our newest Team Development program; Engineered Strong. Over the years we have heard from many project teams telling us about all the challenges they face regarding communication, decision making, accountability, conflict and more. Well, we listened and have developed a program specifically to help project teams form and to avoid many of the common challenges associated with partners from multiple teams, departments, and companies working together. This team development workshop is specifically designed to get project teams started on the right foot.

Most project teams are a diverse assembly of people from various departments and, frequently, different organizations. There is potential strength in this diversity of skills and perspectives if the team can tap into their members’ differences in a constructive way. However, there are great challenges in doing so. Stakeholders may have unclear roles and competing agendas and priorities. Leadership, accountability, meeting processes and communications are often unclear. Constructive differences can spiral into destructive conflicts and decisions can be painful or impossible. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Your project may have a small budget or one in the multi-millions. It may have a 3-month or 3-year timeline. However, if you invest in a solid team foundation with “Engineered Strong”, you will see the return when you need it most.

How it Works

At Summit we are team development specialists and have been helping teams form and perform for almost 20 years. We have engineered this workshop specifically for the complexity of diverse project teams.

The overall goal of the workshop is to help your project team develop and agree upon a common destination and a clear path forward. Throughout the workshop, team members develop patterns of successful interactions as they face challenges together. The fun and engaging challenges build relationships and highlight different team skills, such as trust-building, communications, decision-making, conflict management and change management. Mental models and tools are presented for each topic area. The group’s learning is carried forward as the workshop progresses so that they finish with a group charter and set of behavioral norms that are based on common experience and consensus.

Although there are common elements to each workshop, yours will be customized to meet the needs of your project team. The end product of the workshop is to have a team charter that defines the expectations and interaction norms for the team. Each team member will sign this document and it will be used throughout the project to guide all interactions throughout the project. Woven throughout the session will be various learning modules and experiential activities that make the session fun, engaging, insightful and educational for the participants.

The Results

By the end of the workshop, stakeholders will:

  • Have strong interpersonal relationships based on mutual trust
  • Be committed to the same goals
  • Share common expectations around leadership, roles, meetings, communication, decision making and conflict resolution.
  • Have tools, such as a Team Charter and a set of Norms, to hold one another accountable for their behaviours and actions.

Team Building and Mindfulness

mindfulness-Mindfulness is a very nebulous term and one that many people are confused as to exactly what it means. I do not claim to be a mindfulness expert, but I will share with you my thoughts on the subject as it relates to leadership and team development.

In short, mindfulness is about being aware of the world around you. The good, the bad, the pressures, the stressors, the people and the events around you and how you interact and respond to this world.

In my mind mindfulness can be equated to conscious competence. In all that we do we can interact in one of four ways; unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence.

Unconscious incompetence is the beginner’s experience. One in which you are so novice you do not know good from bad and right from wrong. As you navigate your way in this new world, and your eye’s and your mind are open you begin to learn and this is when you become consciously incompetent.

Conscious incompetence is a world of learning. It is not a place you want to stay for long, but it is an important place and one full of lessons. In this state you become aware of what you know and what you do not know. What you need to learn and who you need to learn it from. You become a sponge and soak in everything around you. As you pass through this state you move into the realm of conscious competence.

In conscious competence you are hyper aware of everything around you. Your eye’s, ears, and mind are open. Every task is a challenge to be met and you meet it head on. You consider all aspects of what is around you, your goals, your skills, your resources and you build a very deliberate plan for success. You become focused.

Lastly is unconscious competence. The panicle of learning and evolution. The term unconscious is applied because you are not consciously thinking, you are just doing. Your collective memory takes over and you fly on automatic pilot. This state has its applications and its pros and cons and in most instances I would say it is not a place one wants to operate in a team and business environment. Unconscious incompetence implies not deliberate thought. It is a place where you act from habit using what has worked for you in the past.

The idea behind mindfulness is to place yourself in a state of conscious competence where you are aware of all that is around you and how you and others influence events and one another. What you want to do is to knock yourself out of your unconscious competence state and become hyper aware of all of the nuances of all that is around you.

It is often said that to be mindful you should focus on: being non-judgmental, being patient, having a beginners mind, being trustful, not striving, being accepting, letting go, and being generous.

To accomplish this one often starts by learning how to shut out the noise and distractions that are constantly around us. You want to block out the unwanted, energize your powers, and open your mind. This puts you in a place when you can perform at your best and deal with pressures, stress, and challenges the best.

In the Summit Team Building Deliberate Success model we refer to this as reflection and one way many people achieve this is through meditation.

Many people do not think meditation is for them, but that is often because they have a narrow view of what meditation is. Many of us see meditation in its traditional form. The yogi or monk sitting on a mountain top, legs crossed and arms held out in a peaceful stance. They stay like this for hours and even days. Not talking and not thinking. Just being. While this is a form of meditation, the goal of meditation is really just to clear your mind and to become aware of all that is around you.

For our purposes we will ask you to give meditation a try as a way of leading you to mindfulness. You do not need to climb a mountain or go to your closest Buddhist Monastery. All you need to do is find a quiet place. This may be at home before the chaos of the day takes over or it may be at your desk during a break. Some even do it while going for a walk. You do not need to do this for an hour or two. Fifteen or even ten minutes will do. Shut out all distractions and just focus on your breathing. As your mind wanders to other things, bring it back and just focus on your breathing. You will no doubt struggle at this, buy do not beat yourself up and abandon the challenge. It may take you weeks to get to the point where you can sit still for ten minutes and just clear your mind.

Now you may be asking how this is related to mindfulness. Well, in order to be mindful you need to learn how to control your mind. Our mind is an immensely powerful tool and one that most frequently controls us. We act in what we believe is an unconsciously competent state, but without knowing it we sometimes are actually being unconsciously incompetent. When we are aware of our mind, our thoughts, our feeling, and the people, events, and interactions around us we are in a better place to choose the right course of action. The right words or the right emotional response.

Spring is here. Get outside and Team Build!

Team Building Outside!If you’ve been feeling a little cooped up by a winter that has overstayed its welcome, you are probably not alone. It’s highly likely that your co-workers are also feeling a little negative, stressed and unfocused. Maybe what you all need is an attitude – and health – boost provided by Mother Nature and Summit Team Building. And, the science is behind you on this one:

There has been a lot of study and talk around the mental and physical health benefits of spending time outdoors. A study[i] from the University of Michigan linked enhanced mental health and positivity to ‘group’ nature walks … in other words, spending some active time with others in a pleasing natural setting pays off.

  •  Another study published in Psychological Science[ii] found that interaction with nature gives your brain a break from the over stimulation of everyday work and helps to restore attention levels and focus. It’s like a super break!
  •  And how about recharging the immune system? Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School found that women who spent 6 hours in the woods over 2 days had an increase in virus- and tumour-fighting white blood cells that lasted at least a week[iii]. Fewer sick days? That can’t be bad!
  •  There are clear benefits to using the outdoors to boost teamwork and productivity but not everyone is comfortable organizing an outdoor team event. This is where Summit Team Building and our venue partners can help. We can suggest a lightly active and highly engaging program suited to your needs. And, we’ll find that perfect venue – one that offers inspiring outdoor spaces as well as foul-weather alternatives (just in case).

Some of our favourite outdoor-friendly program choices are:

  •  Blue Mountain Invitational. This putting based program takes place on the spectacular Blue Mountain Cascade putting course. Each hole will present a different challenge for your team and teamwork, communication, collaboration, communication and trust will be critical for success. Lots of easy take away to apply to work related development as a team.
  • Survive or Thrive. What is it that makes some teams thrive while others merely survive? This indoor or outdoor based team building event will present your team with multiple challenges that will require teamwork and learning for success. A competitive theme and a philanthropic bonus make this a great choice for any team.
  • Play it Forward and Blue Mountain Quest. These ‘Amazing Race’ style events will challenge your team’s problem-solving abilities, refresh the brain and really get them out exploring the locale. Play it Forward has a great philanthropic addition and take on the Blue Mountain Adventure Quest to kick your team building program up a notch.
  • The Rescuers. Is there a better example of high performing teamwork than search and rescue? Your team learns to collaborate as they deploy diverse skill and knowledge sets to achieve a common goal.
  • Reaching New Heights. Trust and team cohesion grow rapidly as people experience ‘what is possible’ when they fully support one another on one of our high ropes courses. Truly inspiring.

Of course, most of our programs can be fully or partially adapted for the great outdoors. For more about Summit Team Building programs and our partner venues, please check our website ( or give us a call at 1-800-685-5278. We will get you on your way to a healthier, happier and more productive team.








Team Building Workshop

Scott Kress recently hosted a webinar about team building as a leader. The webinar titled “5 ideas in 15 minutes” can you seen here. Scott hosted this webinar as an introduction to a conference where he is a keynote speaker.