The Urban Initiatives team traveled up north to Cambridge, Wisconsin for a little mid-season team bonding. What has now become a tradition at Urban Initiatives, the staff retreat is a time for everyone to step back, recharge and build stronger relationships with each other.
The day kicked off with a healthy breakfast of yogurt and bagels to energize everyone for a full day of activities and new experiences. Coach Andy dove right in with a self-reflection exercise. UI staff members were asked to think about their respective roles within the organization and how their talents help not only each other, but also more importantly, the kids.
The next activity took the UI team down memory lane, recalling their first ever places of employment. From mowing lawns and babysitting to managing the dairy department of a supermarket. Coach April had everyone think back to the times when we were introduced to the working world and how those experiences helped shape the workers we are today. After that, Coach Brendan took everyone outside for a little friendly competition.
Olympic style challenges that began in small groups turned into two large teams utilizing teamwork and communication to complete the tasks at hand. A relay race kicked things off then everyone’s favorite childhood game, dodgeball! With each team splitting the first two matches, the third match saw the single greatest performance in dodgeball history.
Coach Brandon was the last man standing, his teammates cheered him on the sideline but the odds were against him. He was up against seven UI staff members just itching to win the game and claim victory, but Coach Brandon didn’t let them. One by one he eliminated players from the opposing team.
The excitement and tension built as it came down to the final two. Coach Lauren and Coach Brandon stared each other down but Coach Brandon came out victorious. As his teammates rushed the field, Coach Cris and Coach Joy carried him on their shoulders.
Once Coach Brandon claimed victory, the team traveled to nearby Hinchley’s Dairy Farm for an up close and personal visit with some cows, goats, chickens and various other farm animals. The tour, led by Tina Hinchley, shared tons of great information about what it takes to be a farmer and how much dedication is needed to take care of so many different animals.
Soon after the farm visit, the team headed to The Mink Farm for a little Monday night fish fry, a staple in Cambridge. During dinner, Coach April challenged everyone to a little Chicago/Urban Initiatives trivia. Questions about the organization and the city stumped many, but the team of Coaches Andy, Brendan and Cristobal came out victorious.
As the retreat came to a close, everyone felt recharged and ready to get back to Chicago. Urban Initiatives would like to thank Leslie Cleaver, Kim and Don Catherall, Susan and James Dower, and Maryse Richards and Brandon Taylor for generously letting us use their cabins. We’d also like to thank Tina for another informative tour of Hinchley Dairy Farm and finally, the Mink Farm for hosting a Friday Fish Fry on Monday.