Suggestions for a fun company picnic?

summer2008_otto_picnic.jpgEmily emails:

I'm on the committee planning this summer's retreat for my division (25-30 people) and we're trying to drum up some new ideas. For the past several years we've spent the morning at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga for a meeting, guest speaker, and team building exercises (*groan*). Then, we all head to the track to watch the races from a clubhouse area and have lunch.
We're really hoping to come up with something different this year because that plan is getting a little tired and there are some people on the team who strongly dislike the track.
Our office is in Troy and we're open to anything in the Capital Region where we can have a meeting-ish space and also do something fun.
If the AOA readers can come up with a good suggestion I'll be the office hero :)

These sorts of events are usually a bit tricky because the it's-work-but-hey-we're-supposed-to-be-having-fun aspect of them. But it doesn't sound like Emily's office is looking for anything too unusual.

So, got a suggestion that could make Emily the office hero? Please share!


I am a big fan of Michael Burns and Kat Koppett over at the Mop and Bucket Company. I'm sure that MopCo could liven up your party, whether it be executive coaching or just some fun improve!

I say rent a bunch of tandem kayaks and launch at Grafton. tandem kayaking is a serious team building acitivity...if you don't kill one another first.

Have you considered the Rensselaerville Institute? It's a little bit out of the way, but the grounds are impressive and then there's the Rensselaerville Falls.

There's also new facilities at Thatcher Park, I think.

Finally, there is the Omi International Art Center in Columbia County.

Smaller company but same problem here.

We rented a box at the Valley Cats game, that was fun and had a VIP feel to it, not too much team building there though and the games are more often at night.

We're considering doing go-karts and/or picnic at a public park for future events.

Hoping for more suggestions as well!

What about a half-day volunteering somewhere (Habitat for Humanity, regional food bank, etc.) then a low-key BBQ picnic on Green Island or Thatcher Park?

My company does a picnic at the Great Escape- lots of fun for the whole family and even those who don't like rides can lounge by the pool or relax in the lazy river

At a former workplace I shall not name, I had many bad times, but one of the best ever was a big picnic at Peebles Island. You can rent the pavillion which does have grilling capacity. We played bocce and other outdoor games, hiked, etc.

There is only one right answer to this question: Give everyone the day off and let them go their separate ways. Is there any way to make annoying work relationships worse than forced "fun"?

My previous company did a ropes course -- not sure where but it was greater capital district. Personally I find the ropes course idea terrifying but it was a hit for those that opted to attend.

I just held my husband's birthday party at Birch Hill, in Schodack. It's a wedding venue with really pretty grounds (including peacocks and swans!). But they have an outside pavillion on a lake and we had a lobster bake (chicken, beef, burgers/dogs are also an option). The one downfall: facilities at the pavillion are Port-A-Potties. I didn't even think to ask that when I booked. But, everything else, was very nice!!


Saratoga Polo:

You can tailgate (the lowest cost option), or go all-out with a catered event.

Just be sure to watch out for the steaming divots!

I love the idea of volunteer activities and then a big relaxing picnic of some sort, maybe bring in a food truck or two, something along those lines. It's a bit different from the traditional "team building" exercises, but I could see it being a great way for people to build relationships while doing something positive to give back to the community. Who wouldn't feel great about that?

Thanks for all the great suggestions everyone, I knew the AOA crew would come through!

Trampoline Park in Colonie -

yes.suggest your employer stop with any type of "team building" exercises. They are ineffective and annoying to everyone participating (this insight based on years of anecdotal evidence) Take the group out for a fun dinner where booze is involved. Nothing builds teamwork more than being appreciated by your boss.

We took our company whitewater rafting in the Adirondacks. About half way down, Chet or Biff or whatever the guide's name was fell out and was swept away. The waters were crazy. Nobody had a clue what to do, so Mrs Creech from Accounting started a prayer circle. She was yelling something about how God was our guide now when she too was bounced off the raft and disappeared. Mindy from Customer Service passed around a flask she wasn't allowed to bring of vodka. We promoted her to VP. In the end most of us survived, but Mrs Griper's hair suddenly went all white and fell out into her McNuggets on the trip home. She's suing us for an undisclosed sum. The Flopino brothers from Shipping quit and joined some Catholic Order that's known for its soda bread and trained service goats. They have taken a vow of silence but have been reprimanded twice for overly expressive looks of sheer terror that continually return to their faces. They are also lawyering up. The firm is pretty much shuttered because Mrs Griper was our HR person and we have been told not to replace her even though she has been out sick since the van dropped her off at her apartment unit with all her hair in a Happy Meal box. Supposedly she spends her days now at the Saratoga Racino wearing a jockey helmet, cackling and betting big. The rest of us sit around the dark office and drink with Mindy. Our team has never been tighter.

I hate when these group activities eat into my time off. The boss should take the team to lunch on a workday instead.

Hi Emily,

I am the Cooking School Coordinator at Different Drummer's Kitchen. We offer Team Building classes at our store for groups of 10-30 people. We can plan hands-on or demonstration-style classes for our group.

If you would like more information, you can visit our website:

We'd love to have you!


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