“I just remembered what I forgot! My phone charger!” said Lynn, as she and Jason pulled onto a quiet mountain road. “Well, it’s too late now,” he replied, “and, from what I hear, we won’t have much need for phones. You might as well turn it off and save the battery in case you really need it.”

Lynn felt an odd hesitation as she tried to remember which button it was that actually turns the phone off!

That was two days ago. Now, it would take some effort to find her phone at the bottom of her suitcase somewhere. She is otherwise occupied, leading her group as they struggle to untie the human knot they’ve made of themselves. The funny thing is that they never set out to choose a leader at the start of the activity. Lynn just sort of grew into it—and fast—as soon as she heard Desiree protesting because her hand was stuck under Jason’s foot.

Leaving San Francisco to Retreat and Center Ourselves

The San Francisco startup is brand new—within the year. The team has grown very fast, along with the company, and it has been hard to keep up with process development and responsibility alignment and training—all while keeping a pulse on the customer base. Jason is the head of Human Resources, and he insisted that they needed a company retreat to get connected and grounded before heading into their second year—just a mellow retreat center near San Francisco, he suggested.

Once the last group has untangled their knot, the whole team sits in a circle on the grass. They’re surrounded by redwood trees, and the air is fresher than most of them have experienced in a long time. “Let’s spend a few more minutes just soaking in the peace and the colors,” says Cora, the founder and CEO.

Lynn closes her eyes—as if that is the permission she needs to really let go, even around a group of people who are usually so plugged in and driven to succeed. How is it possible that she’s not actually thinking about work right now? She’s always thinking about work.

“I’ll share first,” says Jason from the other side of the circle. “So, I’m lucky because I’ve had the chance to get to know all of you pretty well even before this retreat. It’s my job to gauge how everyone’s doing, what’s working, what’s not. Two days ago, we sat in a circle just like this inside The Lodge. I remember trying to make eye contact around the circle, and with some of you it was hard. I remember an overall feeling of tension. We had all just driven out of San Francisco and up those winding roads into the mountains—cell phone signals coming in and out.” Jason laughs a little and smiles at Lynn.

He continues, “I’m not sure I even need to describe the difference now because I think you all feel it too. We’re breathing more deeply. Shoulders aren’t up around our ears. Eye contact is no longer awkward or distracted. People who were near strangers to you a couple days ago are now people you’ve crossed some crazy rope bridge with up in the trees. I still can’t believe I did that. Thanks to Jeff—you’re going to be my partner next year, too, man. And these are people you’ve shared some tough stuff with when we sat down to explore areas where we each need to grow and set goals for improvement.” He smiles more as he looks around at the team.

“Do you guys feel how big of a deal this is? Thank you, Cora, for giving us all a paid vacation!” He laughs again, and it spreads around the circle. “But more than that, we’re going to head back into the office on Monday, and I can’t wait to experience the feeling then. Seriously, guys, I cannot wait to start this completely new phase together.”

Lynn starts clapping, and it spreads all at once. Right here, a new annual tradition is born.

Bringing This San Francisco Retreat Experience to Life for Your Team

This kind of story is unique, and yet we see it all the time. It’s why we do what we do. In the case of Lynn and Jason’s company, which was growing so fast, the team just needed an opportunity to slow down, connect, and get to know one another without the day-to-day pressures of a new, fast-paced company. Investing in this kind of comprehensive experience can yield unprecedented growth—and in ways you hadn’t even thought possible. Remember that your human resources are your most important resources, and this once-a-year tradition can go a long way to supporting your employees’ growth, the growth of the team dynamic, and that of the company itself.

Kennolyn, up in the Santa Cruz Mountains, is an all-inclusive retreat center near San Francisco. And not just for corporate getaways—we host retreats of all kinds, many with a strong emphasis on slowing down to focus on personal growth and team building. We’d love to hear about your team; give us a call to talk about your retreat options.


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