By Diana Mirel, Contributing Editor
A thriving social scene can be a club’s most valuable asset— and the greatest value now often comes from social programming that’s not geared to adults. Creating activities and events for kids is one of the best ways to boost member satisfaction and establish an enthusiastic youth presence, while readying the next generation of members.
As part of its expanding efforts to appeal to its younger members, The Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Country Club put together the CRCC Boys’ Nerf War, to capitalize on the wildly popular toy among boys at the club. The two-hour event included boot camp, target practice with the Nerf guns, lunch and the “war” itself. About 30 boys from ages three to 16 participated, with the event open to members and their guests.
“One of the goals of the event was to introduce the boys to new people,” says Danielle Goderis, Director of Children’s Activities and Technology. “They had all just started school again and many of them had not been to the club in a few weeks, so it was nice to get them back together and introduce them to the new members who had joined since the school year started.”
The staff decorated the grounds for the event with balloons stapled to the trees for target practice, while green and brown streamers on the trees created additional hiding spots for “soldiers.” Inside the clubhouse, a face-painting station and a wide selection of Nerf guns and ammunition allowed the boys to prepare for battle.
Goderis chose five enthusiastic male staff members to lead the event and act as “drill sergeants.” The staffers dressed for the part and participated wholeheartedly as they led their troops into the fray. One of the drill sergeants kicked off the event with an animated boot camp that included push-ups, jumping jacks and a lap around the parking lot for a warm-up. The boys were then led through target practice, taking turns closing their eyes, shooting on one foot and learning other techniques to improve their Nerf marksmanship skills.
THE GOAL: Get as many boys together as possible at The Cedar Rapids CC for a fun afternoon to reconnect with friends and also make new ones.
THE PLAN: Create an elaborate, lighthearted “boot camp” and stage an outdoor “war” using Nerf guns, the toy of choice for many of the boys at the club.
THE PAYOFF: The event was such a hit, participants didn’t want the fun to end, extending the play time until their parents finally had to make them leave. The club plans to repeat the event at the start of the next school year.
After this “basic training,” the boys refueled with pizza, fruit and Gatorade. Then the fight was on, using the front lawn and playground area of the club. The boys were split up into two teams and the battle was structured in the manner of “capture the flag,” with each team hiding an item from the other and putting it under heavy guard.
The property’s valet road, which splits the front lawn and playground area, served as the boundary line, and once a combatant crossed over into “enemy territory,” he was fair game. If a boy was “hit,” he had to lay on the ground until a staff member came to his rescue, or he could go back to his team if an all-free was called. Whenever needed, the boys had a chance to refill ammunition and take a breather.
The battle raged for an hour and a half, and the boys still didn’t want it to end. “It couldn’t have gone better,” says Goderis. “All of the boys participated, and we did not run out of ammunition. They were all running around, shooting each other, having a blast and getting along well. The boys did not want to leave, and kept it going until their parents finally made them go home.”
The boys loaded up on war paint and Nerf gun ammunition before heading off to battle at The Cedar Rapids Country Club.
The club spent $300 on supplies for the event, but doubled that in fees from each participant ($15, which included lunch), plus a service charge and tax. More importantly, though, the boys loved the day and headed home with great memories and new friendships. It all proved to be such a success, in fact, that Goderis plans to renew the “hostilities” with a return engagement of the CRCC Boys’ Nerf War again next September.
By Pamela Brill, Contributing Editor
THE GOAL: Pair a teambuilding event with Olympic-style competition to spark enthusiasm and camaraderie among the foodservice team at Chevy Chase Club.
THE PLAN: Create a multi-tier event that mirrored regular duties of foodservice and challenged staff members on speed and efficiency for specified tasks.
THE PAYOFF:Long-lasting teamwork and skill-building that has carried over to their jobs on a daily basis—with plans for more competitions.
For most people, the Olympics represent a passive viewing activity in a comfy chair or on a couch. For the F&B staff at Chevy Chase (Md.) Club, however, the Games served as the inspiration for an extremely active team-building event that also extended some recreational benefits to the staff. The idea for the Chevy Chase competition, dubbed the Winter Center Penthathlon, came to life during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, which coincided with training the staff on basic foodservice set-up tasks. Why not turn the need for training into our own set of Games that could fuse fun and practicality, management decided.
Chevy Chase Club’s five-day Winter Center Pentathlon was made up of challenges designed to see who could re-set a table, roll up silver, break down a tray and polish a glass the fastest.
“Each ‘game’ mirrored an actual day-to-day duty in our casual-dining outlet,” explains Assistant Manager Brett Wischow. “While it certainly allowed our team to have fun, there was also a training component, which allowed our management team to elaborate on some service standards and put them into practice in a fun environment.”
- Adventure-seeking members of Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla., learned to “fly without wings” through a Flying Trapeze School set up on the lawn of the club’s Town Hall. Paid sessions were sold out in advance, prompting the club to add an additional day to accommodate the waiting list. More cautious members could sign up for “try ‘n fly,” a complimentary 15-minute session. According to the club, there were just as many spectators as participants for the event, and plans to make “flying” a new regular tradition at the club are in the works.
The five-day event was made up of challenges designed to see who could re-set a table, roll up silver, break down a tray and polish a glass the fastest. Teams were divided by schedule, with a representative from each team present during every shift. Participation was strictly voluntary, however. “If anyone did not feel comfortable participating, they were not forced to,” adds Wischow.
That did not prove to be the case, however; enthusiasm for Chevy Chase’s version of the Games was infectious. Four teams, each comprised of seven to eight individuals, took part in the pentathlon. Participants were given the added incentive of individual and team prizes, ranging from medals for all competitors to small prizes like a bag of chips or a candy bar. First-place winners earned Starbucks gift cards.
“Injuries” were minimal during the spirited competition, Wischow reports. “One or two glasses were broken or cracked during our tray-carrying event, but otherwise the event did not create any damage to supplies,” he notes. Individual points were deducted from team point totals for any breakage.
Regardless of who won, the old adage, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game”—or in this case, the Games—held true. “The biggest effect of the event was the team-building,” notes Wischow. “Gift cards come and go, but camaraderie lasts forever.”
The club plans to hold regular Games so staff members can continue to build teamwork skills—and Wischow now hopes to pair the competition with before-and-after training sessions. “Setting expectations and then reviewing them at the end of would be a great addition,” he says.
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