by Lauren Zerweck Tue Oct 9 2018

What do you get when you combine seven CEOs, four canoes, two kayaks, two outdoor guides well versed in team development, one gourmet chef, hot springs, and the Colorado River? One of the most unique and soul nourishing adventures I have ever witnessed.

Corporate retreat Colorado River

This summer, I had the pleasure of joining Positive Adventures on a customized corporate retreat on the Colorado River. As their photographer, I expected to see some amazing sites. What I didn’t expect was the camaraderie I would witness along the way.

The group: Forum H

The location: The Colorado River, just below the Hoover Dam

The duration: Three nights

The objective: To experience a challenging yet high end journey filled with hiking, relaxing, exploring, and bonding

Mission: Accomplished

We started our grand adventure at the Hoover Dam, where we loaded up our gear and met the group we would be hosting for the next few days. It was a unique time to be on the river, as the dam was open and the current did much of the work for us. It was a quiet morning with only a few other kayaks in sight, and we were able to relax on our canoes as we drifted downstream taking in the views. One particular hot spring filled this cave [below] about 30 to 40 feet deep.

Our First Stop: The Sauna Cave

Colorado river Hot Springs

The canyon is filled with slot canyons that often have a number of hot springs running through them, both natural and man-made pools. One particular hot spring filled a cave about 30 to 40 feet deep. At the end of this cave is a lot of steam – great for cleansing – and a darkness that is somewhat unsettling. It’s actually easier to close your eyes and feel your way to the back of the cave. If you are looking to confront claustrophobia, this may be a great challenge for you. If you want a facial that only nature can provide, this will be right up your alley. If neither of those things are enticing for you, you can just hang out at the entryway of the cave and take in the view. It sits high above the river and is a great way to absorb the breathtaking canyon.

One of my favorites was when we sat in a hot spring at night, gazing up at a starry sky, framed by a slot canyon while listening to the crash of the waterfall that filled our pool.

We spent the day moseying down the river and stopping along the way at each slot canyon to see what majestic wonders nature had in store for us. We discovered a lovely warm waterfall, multiple hot springs, clay that can be used to exfoliate and detoxify, and several ropes and ladders to climb as you follow the streams deeper into the canyon.

River Retreat

This group is rarely disconnected from the world as technology and massive responsibility have restricted their ability to simply be present… The gratitude they felt was very evident.

A Retreat Menu Like No Other

When we finally made it to our campsite, our chef had dinner waiting for us. Even though we were backcountry camping there was a full kitchen and gourmet meals prepared everyday.

Every morning we had fresh brewed coffee and a breakfast spread filled with scrambled eggs, sautéed veggies, chicken sausage, and potatoes with rosemary and caramelized onion. And if you wanted a lighter breakfast there was also seasonal fruit, yogurt, and granola.

The lunches and dinners were all very unique. One of my favorites was the grilled lamb with spring pasta. After a day of hiking and paddling, sitting down to a colorful plate of sun-dried tomatoes, pancetta, mushrooms, summer squash, zucchini sprinkled with parmesan cheese, and a juicy hot pork chop is indescribable – there is nothing quite like it.

gourmet meals at your next company retreat

A few of the gourmet meals we were served on the retreat [above] // Photo Credit: Chef Chelsea Carpenter

Another favorite was Korean-style ribeye taco night. This creative cultural crossover included kimchi, avocado, charred shishito peppers, and perfectly barbecued ribeye on a corn or flour tortilla. Yum!

Retreat Experiences That Expand Your Mind

The next day was equally awesome. We ventured through more hotspring-filled canyons to see what we might find. One challenge for me was a series of three hot springs, each one warmer than the last. By the third pool, the water was very hot and incredibly detoxifying.

That’s what journeys like this can do for you and your group. They help you to take a step back, take stock, be present, and grow as a team.

Team Building Retreat

The challenge was worthwhile.

On the other side of the pools, we came upon some rocks covered in ancient Native American pictographs. As we ate lunch in the shade examining our find, we talked about what it must have been like to be in a Native American tribe. We sat along a dry riverbed where water once flowed, feeding the land and sustaining its people. Unlike the Aztecs, who left behind very visible ruins, Native Americans practice Leave No Trace principles. It’s more difficult to find artifacts.

The paddle back to our campsite was a little more precarious than the day before. Flat water canoeing is peaceful, but can be a lot of work if you are going against the current. At one point, we encountered some rapids. My canoe buddy and I ended up shoring up and getting out of the canoe to stop it from being taken by the current, and noticed the canoe ahead of us was empty. Its former occupants were swimming furiously against the current. There seemed to be a moment of panic until they realized they were in shallow water, and could simply stand up. We all had a good laugh, and one of the men later told me that the brief but very real fear he felt in that moment was his favorite part of the trip.

Each person on the trip had their own unique experiences and highlights. One of my favorites was when we sat in a hot spring at night, gazing up at a starry sky, framed by a slot canyon while listening to the crash of the waterfall that filled our pool. We shared stories, laughs, and gratitude for all the good things in our lives.

That’s what journeys like this can do for you and your group. They help you to take a step back, take stock, be present, and grow as a team.

Rock Climbing Retreat

Reaching Your Retreat Goals

This group requested a unique adventure with a combination of emotional, physical, and empowering retreat experiences. Each day they received opportunities to push their limits during hikes, climbs, and paddles, rewarded with stunning views like big horned sheep navigating the cliff side and the green glowing waters of an emerald cave.

Additionally, they wanted to get out of their comfort zones. Backcountry camping will do this for most, but especially for a group who doesn’t often have time to spend in nature. They worked as a team to light the campfire with nothing but two sticks, and swam in a river that was 40 degrees. In fact, they continued to live outside of their comfort zones, sleeping outside of their tents and under the stars on the last night.

It was the trip of a lifetime, and one that all of us will forever cherish.

Author Bio: Meet guest blogger, Lauren Zerweck! Lauren has been a long time friend of Positive Adventures for more than twelve years. She has a background in team building as well as digital marketing and content creation. When she is not working, you will find her at the beach or in the mountains.

Hot Spring Corporate Retreat

Guest blogger Lauren Zerweck enjoying a warm, natural hot spring shower on the Colorado River [above]

Spending time outside is a great way to bond and learn. When it comes to planning retreats, Positive Adventures is the bee’s knees. To get some info on creating a retreat or outing, give us a call!

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