FIVE STEPS TO BUILDING A CORPORATE TEAM
A core group built a very successful Corporate Team Program for a large Chicago Distribution company starting in 2012. We regularly share the plans with new and existing corporate team captains. And, we invite you to share same with us - after all - that is what makes programs grow!
STEP 1: GET STARTED
Selecting the event you want to experience (race) makes a big difference. Some races are 500 meters (about 3:00 minutes of paddling) while others are 300 meters (about 1:40 minutes of paddling) Here are some race sites to explore to get more information:
Chicago Southland Dragon Boat Festival
Chinatown Race for Literacy
Chicago International Dragon Boat Festival
Dunebrook Dragon Boat Festival Michigan City, IN
Milwaukee Dragon Boat Festival
There are two types of dragon boats - 20 person Hong Kong style and 18-person Taiwan style. The Taiwan boats use a “Flag Catcher” and both styles use drummers and paddlers so you will need a minimum of 24 paddlers (some extras), a light person as your drummer, and possibly a high school student as the flag catcher.
Next, you want to register your team - so be creative in selecting a name - have fun with it. If you are reading this, chances are you are the team captain. Either way, your team should have a captain that coordinates schedules, practices, communications, and secures funds from your company.
STEP 2: YOUR TEAM
Understanding your team chemistry is really important for the team organizers. Our experience is that after the first race, the competitiveness of your paddlers will change. That’s why at GCDBC we try to schedule at least one of your practices so you can scrimmage with another corporate team. Here are the main roles of your team: Team Captain, Paddler, Drummer, Race-Day Captain, and Cheer-Squad. Including folks who want to support you in your Cheer-Squad will add a lot to everyone’s experience. Our experience is Cheer-Squad participants roll into paddlers in future seasons!
STEP 3: PRACTICE
GCBDC suggests teams consider 3-5 practice team building sessions in order to “look good” on the water. Practices are an hour in duration and always start on the land with an important safety announcement so it is important that everyone is present 30 minutes before your scheduled water time! Your GCDBC Coach will instruct you in technique and help with team building. A series of drills and exercises will help your team learn the importance of working together as one unit. As Team Captain, you should come prepared to practice with a seating chart. Here is a really well-written article from Kristin Stickles, or PaddleChica.
STEP 4: RACEDAY
A Race-Day Captain helps here a lot because there will be supplies - like water and food plus chairs, tent and table that your team should bring. The Race-Day Captain handles the list and who brings what. Team Captains can then focus on boat lineup/seating chart, stretching before paddling, and working closely with event organizers so your team has a good experience. Captains should know the race venue rules for the event - for example, some events have minimum numbers of women paddlers in the boat. Captains should print these out, review them and understand them before race day. Attending the “Captain’s Meeting” on the festival day is also important. Understanding the starter’s call, the lane number for your team, and the festival’s safety program for water and land environments. Team Captain also communicates a motivating message to the team - “unleashing the dragon within!”
STEP 5: BUILD EXCITEMENT
Most companies have an internal or employee communications team. If you can have one of these members join and paddle - awesome. They will help you get photos and even write up an article to build awareness of the festival and the community support your organization provided. It’s a great way to help your leadership see the benefit of the funds they provided to the festival, the non-for-profits your practice fees support and your overall team-building. Social Media and Newspapers are great outlets to share the work your organization is doing to help the community!