The screwfix team spent a weekend in the depths of Finland stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing, feeding reindeers and camping in suspended tents in a lake-side forest. We caught up with Andy Moat, the trip organiser, to see how the trip went, and what impact it had on the team.
Hi Andy, thanks for chatting with us.
Hi Pete, no problem.
So I believe you announced this trip to your team during a meeting as a surprise. How did the idea go down at first?
Well, I think the team was a little split initially. There were some of the more active members of the team who were clearly thrilled about the idea. Others on the other hand, if I’m honest, were a little apprehensive. Some people had never been stand-up paddle boarding before, and I think others were not so thrilled about going on holiday with colleagues…
I can imagine.
But actually, after showing the team the photos on the site, especially of the tents suspended between the trees, that definitely helped to win some hearts and minds!
So, Andy, talk me through the trip.
Well we got on two separate flights, and were met by our hosts, Illka and Arhi, for our transfer across to the hotel for the first night. We dropped our luggage in the rooms and then Arhi gave us a tour briefing. He talked us through everything that was going to happen throughout the weekend, including the itinerary and a safety briefing.
Everybody was especially excited to see the camping premises. We then settled into a traditional dinner, which was delicious.
The next morning, we drove around 20 minutes from the hotel to a really calm, sheltered lake. We then canoed to the other side of the lake, before stopping for some coffee and traditional Finnish snacks.
After a great spread of local food, we broke up into two groups. Some continued to canoe, and some took a lakeside hike through the forests.
Then that afternoon you visited the reindeer park?
Yes, that’s right. We then went back to the lake-side and hopped into a coach and drove to the Halti Nature centre. We gathered in front of the nature centre before commencing a short hike through to the reindeer park.
Everybody absolutely loved feeding the reindeer, the whole team really enjoyed it. After a pretty active morning, people were pretty happy for a more sedate activity.
Then we tried the traditional Finnish Reindeer lassoing which we weren’t expecting. That really was a laugh.
And obviously it wasn’t with a real reindeer!
We then went across to the see the tents suspended in the trees. That was quite spectacular! As you can imagine, around 20 tents suspended in the trees overlooking the lake was really quite something.
We then spent the afternoon hanging out in the forest. Luckily, we got really good weather so some of us even went for a swim in the lake.
We gathered to the big teepee which was quite close by. We started off with some traditional Finnish beer tasting and wilderness Finnish tapas tasting.
We had some local gin and tonic which went down a storm. The gin was voted the best gin in the world in 2015, so yeah, it really tasted good.
We also got to learn a little more about the outdoor Finnish bushcraft and culture, which I think that everybody really enjoyed, and wasn’t expecting either.
Our CEO then presented everyone with the handcrafted wooden cups, or ‘Kukskas’, which had our names and company logo engraved on them. That was a really thoughtful touch.
That evening, the whole team had plenty to eat and drink. The fire-fried salmon was definitely a crowd favourite. That was unbelievably tasty.
Needless to say, at this point the team was pretty content.
Then we woke up the next morning. Waking up in the tents, by the way, and looking through the forest and over the lakes, was really memorable for me.
We spent the morning stand-up paddle boarding around another really calm lake, which was really great. It’s much easier to do than most people expected I think.
We weren’t forced to do any team-building games or anything, everybody could just relax and enjoy the stillness of the place, which is what we all wanted.
I have to add, that Arhi was really great at judging the group. Nobody was forced to do anything they didn’t want to do, and the pace was always perfect.
By the end of the trip, we were quite knackered after the all exercise, but everybody really loved it. And most of all, the team was bonding like never before, so the whole mission of the trip was really appearing to be a success.
And so when everyone returned to the office, how did the trip impact the mood?
There was definitely a glow on everyone’s faces when we got back to the office. The whole trip definitely helped the team dynamic. Especially as some of the newer staff really felt like they were now part of the team. I’d definitely recommend this trip to any company.
So thanks a great couple of days!
Great to hear you enjoyed yourself Andy.