woods cci hero

As the erratic summer weather continues even the hardcore wild swimmers here at KISS might not be in the River Cam all week. But we did recently experience a wonderful team day in the woods, or what some are now referring to as Forest Bathing. You can do this any day of the year – and now that experience can be structured and delivered for businesses in Cambridge to help enhance team relationships, provide wellbeing and relaxation and help to regain some perspective through creativity.

We were given this valuable day in the woods in exchange for our ongoing pro bono support to arts and well-being charity Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (CCI). So we ditched the whiteboard and the conference room to bathe in beautiful Ashlyn Woods and the results and feedback were amazing. It took us right out of our comfort zone but in a calm and enabling way. We learned about each other and connected on a deeper level. The day was facilitated with a light touch by CCI’s skilled team, leaving us plenty of space to connect, relax and reflect.

It’s clear that workplaces and the people in them are changing, and people want to see their more diverse needs met. That probably applies to your customers too. As a society we spend less time - especially unstructured time - outdoors than ever before. In my experience traditional ‘away day’ sessions in a conference room or indulging in structured ‘team-building’ activities may mean those vital different voices remain unheard, those amazing feelings and ideas don’t come to mind or remain buried. This might be because of the conference room space itself, limits on numbers attending, or perhaps the way people speak up (or don’t): in my experience typical ‘alpha’ meeting behaviours often happen in away days despite a facilitator’s best efforts. Which is why I strongly believe work like this, totally out of your traditional office environment, can bring out new connections and ideas, may aid retention of key skills by ‘walking the talk’ and doing things differently… and in a fast-changing marketplace those new ideas could be vital.

There is health science here too: just having a view of nature through a window has proven benefits in tests on students, workers and even prisoners. Spending time actually out in nature doesn’t just help new connections form and power ideas, it also boosts immune systems, lowers blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Some, including Dr Qing Li of Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School, believe that used regularly the practice of forest bathing or ‘shinrinyoku’ – practiced in Japan since the 1980s – helps counter diseases such as gastric ulcers, strokes, cancer, anxiety, depression and stress.

CCI is an arts and well-being charity working in the outdoors for the last 15 years with young children, their families and educators. ‘A day in the wood’ sessions are tailored to your needs and can be half a day or longer. Income raised from any corporate sessions will directly support the work of the charity and make sure more children are meeting in nature.

We were thrilled that after our amazing experience we were able to build adayinthewoods.org.uk where you can learn more about these sessions and make contact with CCI to book your day.