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Mountain Do: Revisiting Our 2014 Company Retreat

Ah, but if only we could go back! (No offense, office.)

Recently, the BuzzFarmers crew – minus Napa, of course, who was off attending GoldooCon (the annual Goldendoodle Convention) in Minneapolis as its keynote speaker – ascended the White Mountains of North Conway, N.H., for our inaugural company retreat.

Cloistered in a well-appointed condominium on the grounds of the sprawling Stonehurst Manor, we forsook the typical garden-variety trust falls and three-legged-egg-toss/ropes-course-relay challenges in favor of deep conversation, card games, cooking, Heads Up, and marathon rounds of living-room karaoke. (Who knew Mary could out-Bublé Bublé, for instance, or that Pat can perform Bruce Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light” in the voice of a valley girl?)

Meanwhile, we ventured out often for tubing expeditions, invigorating hikes, team meals at the town’s finest restaurants, and trips to the hardware store in search of reasonably priced replacement shower heads.

Hey, what can I say? We know how to cut loose. Things got a little crazy. But those are stories for another day. Don’t worry: Amanda captured every waking moment on a GoPro. We’ll show you the footage when you’re older.

After all, the real reason for our retreat was to connect with each other. To bond. To take a breath and look ahead. Toward that end, the highlight of our time together, the headliner of our festival, the crescendo of our team-building symphony, was a spirited brainstorming session fueled by red wine and bourbon. The staff exchanged unfiltered ideas on the future of our beloved BuzzFarmers: How we can improve workflow, expand our services, more thoroughly blow our clients’ minds, and stay true to our brand while staying ahead of the competition.

I can’t go into details of those internal discussions, unfortunately, but I do have permission to tell you about the restaurants we patronized. It’s always dicey finding authentic and, frankly, edible fare in the dining establishments of major tourist destinations. Not so in North Conway. Our meals were uniformly excellent. Here’s a sampling, complete with some reviews from the BuzzFarmers blue-ribbon panel:

 

  • May Kelly’s Irish Restaurant and Pub: “I was skeptical that a rack of ribs at an Irish pub could hold up under the harsh light of my vast culinary experience, but these were some of the finest I’ve ever had,” Pat said. “By far the best meal of the trip for me.”
  • Moat Mountain Smokehouse & Brewing Co.: “The Thai pizza here, combined with the awesome beer flight, blew me away,” Erin said. “This place was packed during a torrential downpour, and there were a ton of screaming kids, but nothing could distract me from the deliciousness of the food.”
  • Flatbread Company: Chris was in awe of the “mounds of pizza” at this branch of the New England institution. “We had toppings for every taste at the table,” he said. “I tried all of them, and all of them were wonderful.”
  • The Sunrise Shack: “I loved what I ordered, the Yard Sale, a catch all of sorts,” Mary said. “Hash browns, bacon, sausage, eggs, even tomatoes! It was so good, I could’ve cried.” This tiny cafe is known across the land for its warm atmosphere, ambitious menu, and upbeat staff.
  • The Local Grocer: “I’d been wanting to visit this legendary joint for the whole trip, and we finally stopped by on the way out of town,” I said. “So glad we did. The smoothies were extraordinary. I can’t wait to go back so I can try every single thing on their menu.”

 

Mountain Do: Revisiting Our 2014 Company Retreat

 

All of that grub gave us the energy we needed to explore the woodsy, watery charms of North Conway and the White Mountains. We ran with the beasts of the forest, swam with the fishes, and rescued stranded tubers (people on inflated rafts, as opposed to potatoes) from the churning rapids. Chris even slept outside under the stars, and Erin’s life is complete having conquered a rope swing. Just to give you an idea of our physical prowess, here’s a quick list of our accomplishments:

 

Traversing the Saco River

In return for a prearranged amount of money, the Saco Canoe Rental Company kindly equipped us with seaworthy vessels for a wild yet restorative voyage along this magnificent waterway.

The trip down the Saco, besides getting stuck on the shallow parts, was fantastic,” Mary says. “I loved how if we were too far apart, our teammates would wait for us and help if needed. Annnnnnnd Erin helping out that older woman that was hanging on our cooler float.”

Chris agreed.

“I also enjoyed the tubing trip down the Saco, even if I got horribly sunburned,” he says. “There’s always a sense of peace on flowing waters. We had good conversations and lovely weather. At one point, I drifted to the side of the river to wait for our group to reconvene, and a dragonfly landed in the palm of my hand. It stayed there for a few minutes. Quite a humbling experience.”

 

Hiking Diana’s Baths

The hike through Diana’s baths and the trails leading to it was my favorite adventure,” Amanda said. “The waterfalls were fantastic, and the hike there and around it were a lot of fun.”

Once again, Chris, who’s generally a pretty agreeable guy, agreed.

“One of the highlights of the retreat for me was the trip to Diana’s Baths,” he said. “It’s always special to be there, and getting to share it with others who hadn’t been there before made it even more special. I walked up the river farther than I normally do and found a sun-drenched current that was impossible to ignore. There’s so much beauty in the mountains.”

 

Swimming in Echo Lake

“There is something majestic about swimming in a lake surrounded by mountains and trees,” Erin said. “It’s as if you’re on your own little planet. And to be there with your friends and coworkers – what’s better than that? Spending the day tossing around ideas in such a beautiful, natural setting was so inspiring.”

 

Mountain Do: Revisiting Our 2014 Company Retreat

 

On the 2014 BuzzFarmers Company Retreat, we arrived as six fingers and left clenched in a six-fingered fist, punching through the windows of possibility and karate-chopping the bricks of limitation. We’re renewed and ready. After summiting the White Mountains, we’re gearing up for many more climbs in the years ahead, each of us confident in the knowledge that we’re on the best team in the business.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself:

 

 

Shawn Badgley

Shawn Badgley is a Managing Editor at BuzzFarmers. His experience in digital publishing and communications proves crucial in his successful collaborations with BuzzFarmers clients. He has written about culture – business, technology, media, health, sports, arts, and entertainment – for outlets including The Austin Chronicle, where he was senior editor. He also served as Interactive Content Manager at South by Southwest, and has worked with dozens of campaigns on messaging, media relations, and outreach efforts.
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  • Erin

    “We’ll show you the footage when you’re older.”

    I love this post. I’m not sure if I’m feeling sentimental, but I wish we could all go back and do it all over again. North Conway is the perfect place for a company retreat, and we had so much fun. Not only was it a learning experience, but it was a natural team-building experience. I’m so grateful for the time we had together. Go BuzzFarmers!