By Dr. Chalise Maybee, optometrist
After my recent move from Mud Island to the Collierville area, I was excited to explore my new neighborhood and get involved in the community. I couldn’t think of a better way to do that then by joining Leadership Collierville.
Leadership Collierville is an outgrowth of the state of Tennessee Three-Star Community Economic Preparedness program. The program, developed in 1994, aims to assist its members in developing leadership skills and becoming more informed citizens. The program runs September through May and consists of monthly sessions including government, diversity, education, business, economics and much more.
What I like most about this program is its appeal to people from all walks of life. My class consists of 17 truly unique individuals. Our age, profession, experience, and faith are vastly different, but we are brought together with one common goal – to make our community better. In addition to our monthly sessions, our group has been tasked with the restoration of steam locomotive Frisco 1351, a piece history shared by Memphis and Collierville. We are still in the preliminary planning phase, but I look forward to sharing our progress.
We kicked off our time together with a two-day retreat to Victory Ranch in Bolivar, Tennessee. Before going, I had no idea what to expect. The best advice I got from alumni of Leadership Collierville was to “bring comfortable clothes…and a bottle of wine.”
After driving for about hour, I pull up to this:Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. The facilities were fantastic! After getting settled into our Western-themed (air-conditioned…phew) cabin, the real fun began.
Victory Ranch is well-known for its corporate retreats. The staff at Victory Ranch helps guide groups through various team building activities and high adventure elements. Each activity serves to help the team learn more about each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Team members are able to identify risk-takers, planners and those who perform well under pressure. In many of the activities, communication is key. Regardless of how well the group performs on each activity, by the end of the retreat the group is better equipped to work as a whole. My experience did not fall short of that.
We began with a human knot activity. If you’ve ever participated in an activity like this before, you know, that you get really close, really fast. Our first instinct was for everyone to make the “easy” moves first. We later found out that it would have been more efficient if we had strategized before making these “easy” moves. After 30 minutes of back-tracking, we were able to untangle ourselves.
Our next task was little bigger in scale. As instructed, we divided into two teams and were brought to a large balance board. The goal was to get every team member on the opposite side of the board without tipping the scale. This task was especially difficult because one of the teams weighed significantly more than the other. Luckily, our experience from the previous activity helped us strategize and ultimately become successful.
Our last activity before lunch required strong communication and trust. The staff at Victory Ranch constructed a human-sized “spider web” out of ropes. The goal was to move all participants from one side of the web to the other. The catch was that each opening in the web could only be used once. After all the lower openings were used, the only way to go was up. To make the task even more challenging, if at any point someone touched the web, we had to start over. As the shortest participant, the team decided to test out the higher openings with me. I closed my eyes as my teammates lifted me 6 feet in the air and passed me like a board from one side to the other. Thankfully, my classmates are really strong! From the other side, I was able to assist everyone through.
After breaking for lunch, we were back at it. The afternoon was focused on exploring our personal emotional and physical strength. We had the opportunity to harness up and check out the ropes course. I was nervous to start, but once we got going, I could not believe how much fun I was having.
After a physically draining afternoon, we were ready for dinner and a glass (or two) of wine. After dinner, we each presented our Coat of Arms. Before going on the retreat, we were given directions on how to craft our own Coat of Arms, which included displaying our four governing values, impactful moments, life goals, strengths and areas for improvement. This was my favorite part of the retreat because I was able to connect with every person on a more personal level.
Up and at ‘em. We started the day with our final team building activity. In this activity, the staff at Victory Ranch constructed a large circle. There were two jugs in the center of the circle, and the goal was to move the contents from one jug to the other. Sounds simple, right? Of course not. To make things more difficult, no one could enter the circle, and we could only use the props we were given. The props included several panty hose, a few buckets, several straps, a floatation noodle, a whiffle ball and a toy stick horse. To top it off, we only had one hour to complete the task. With limited time, we got straight to work. Our ropes course experience inspired us to craft a harness, with a plan was to hoist me up above the circle and physically transfer the contents from one jug to the next. As a safety hazard, the staff at Victory Ranch quickly put a halt to this plan.
Moving forward, we came up with a new plan. We would use the panty hose and the straps to create a pulley system. We were able to lift the jug with the contents and move it toward the other jug, but had a hard time making the transfer. Low on time, we tried to construct a system that would make the transfer easier. Sadly, we ran out of time. Despite, our failed attempt, it was a great learning experience.
We finished the day with rock climbing and zip-lining. Let me tell you, the rock wall is much harder than it looks. I made it halfway up the wall before I decided that taking the ladder was a better idea. Emily, Leadership Collierville director, was the only woman who made it all the way to the top. The men were a little more successful here. Even though I didn’t make it to the top, my arms sure felt it the next day!All in all, I had a blast at our Leadership Collierville retreat. It was incredible to see how far our group came in just one day. We learned more about each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We learned how to communicate more effectively and new friendships were formed. Personally, I feel more confident in myself and in my role within the group. I have no doubt that our shared experience at Victory Ranch set the foundation for a great team. I am so excited to see what Leadership Collierville is able to accomplish this year!