How to run an effective corporate retreat

I woke up to a beautiful view of a crystal clear lake with a background of the snow-capped Canadian Rockies. Drinking a hot cup of coffee, I found myself inspired with how far we’ve come as a team and the things we could accomplish if we stay on the same path.

It’s these moments that stand out months after the company retreat - moments that inspire the team to work together and evoke the passion that made you join the company in the first place.While every company retreat will have different purposes and objectives, here are 3 essential factors that contributed to the success of our retreat at Bear Camp in Chilko Lake, BC.


Many people join a startup because they believe in the cause. Unfortunately this inspiration can dwindle with the day-to-day grind – long working hours, demanding customers, and sales targets take their toll on everyone.The corporate retreat helps to reinvigorate and re-inspire the team. From the founders’ perspective it can be an equal source of inspiration – a reminder that they’re surrounded by passionate people who believe in the same mission. We kicked off our retreat at Bear Camp with a short team hike.

When we arrived at a look out point, we shared a few words of why we joined the company, why we were still there, and what we were looking to get out of the retreat. Listening to the passion shared by everyone on the team was a well-needed reminder of why we continue to do what we do.


Team building

Team building activities bridge the gap between team members that don’t connect with each other on a daily basis but also serve as a reminder that while some departments may have different targets or objectives, everyone is working towards the same end goal. Particularly in startups where small teams may be competing for limited resources be it advertising dollars, additional staff, etc. it’s important to diffuse the kind of company politics that can result when resources are scarce.

At Bear Camp, we would spend half the day with an outdoor activity be it mountain biking, fishing, hiking or rafting. Evenings were spent together playing cards, board games or mixing a few drinks - all of which allowed the team to connect with each other and reduce the feeling of distance that can arise through remote work.


Professional Development

Blending professional development into the retreat helps to create some reflection and purpose around the future of the company and its growth. The idea is to focus on some of the bigger issues that fall by the wayside as everyone deals with the day-to-day fires. We would start the day at Bear Camp with a short activity followed by a brainstorming session. A few improv games lead to a session on effective customer service, while another session focused on building our organizational chart and the growth path of each role in the company.

Whether you go to a luxurious resort or take a company camping trip, an effective corporate retreat can continue to serve as a reminder that despite some of the challenges you’ll encounter along the way, you’ll be accompanied by passionate people who are there to support one another along the path to success.