Where can I boost my leadership skill? How can I improve my confidence level? I always fail in decision making. I never got an opportunity to work in a team. I don’t know how to manage a team. I want to experiment adventures…

These are a few questions a youth wants to seek answer(s) in their youthful age. Pax Earth organised the Members Outdoor Exposure (MOE) to provide a platform where the youths could find the answers to many of such questions. Under the theme, “Let’s empower us working as a team,” the one night two day’s MOE program was organised at Gaun Ghar Farm House situated in Khopasi, Kavrepalanchok on July 12-13, 2013. Last time, Pax Earth organised such event in May 2010. The main objectives of the MOE were (i) to help members in developing and/or enhancing leadership, teambuilding and management skills and thereby facilitate their overall development, (ii) to facilitate members in developing physical, intellectual, social, emotional and spiritual potentials, and (iii) to improve member’s self-confidence and self-control. The MOE was a dynamic combination of games and initiatives, public speaking, trust building exercises, IQs and brainstorming, a quick natural learning environment facilitated by resourceful instructors. Including six females, twenty persons attended the exposure. Full story of the exposure is presented below.

Day 1: July 12, 2013
The participants began to gather at the Pax Earth Nepal Secretariat, Pashupati, Kathmandu at 2:00pm. Due to a few late comers, the whole team could leave for Gaun Ghar Farm House, Khopasi, Kavre in a private bus at 4:00pm. After nearly three hours drive through treacherous roads, the team arrived at the Gaun Ghar Farm House at 6:45pm two hours late than the originally planned. Every participant became tired due to the long drive followed by a fifteen minutes upwards walking. Upon arrival, the team members were warmly welcomed by owner of the farm house and school teacher of few PEN members Rabindra Man Joshi and his spouse Malina Joshi. Having filled the hunger with welcome drinks and local snacks (duck chhoyla, potato curry, beaten rice and pickles), the team headed for icebreaking at 7:15pm.

Before the icebreaking, the participants were divided into two teams: Tycoon and Oscar. Tycoon consisted of Sovanand Yadav, Kamala Basnet, Anita Subedi, Manisha Chalise, Debraj Ghimire, Ram Sharan Paudel and Rajan Dulal and Oscar consisted of Kapil Deuja, Jamuna Siwakoti, Reetu Adhikari, Bhagabati Pandey, Sudan P. Bhandari, Dina Nath Ray and Laxman B. Pahari. The first activity under the icebreaking was the name game in which each participant was asked to tell the name of the remaining participants in a round setting. It was organised to help them remember the names of the fellow participants. Besides the name game, few icebreaking games were also observed. The icebreaking activities were coordinated by Organising Committee (OC) Member Sujan Koirala.

The first team building game was the “Night Line” in which participants of each group were blind folded and asked to reach the destination with the help of a rope. In this game, the leader should navigate the whole team through the obstacles and obstructions to reach the destination. Through the game, the in-charge of the game observed the communication, cooperation, coordination and team work of each team. The night line was designed and coordinated by Base-in-charge Guna Raj Pyakurel.
1_Night line

The team, after the night line, gathered for the session. The OC Member Sujan Koirala formally welcomed all the participants for MOE 2013. He then presented a slide on MOE 2013. He briefly explained the concept, objectives and methodology of the exposure. He also introduced OC members: Treasurer Bal Gopal Shrestha (Coordinator), Jt. Secretary Guna Raj Pyakurel (Jt. Coordinator), President Sujan Koirala, Secretary Binod P. Mainali, Hon. Member Nilambar Badal, Executive Member Laxman B. Pahari, and Executive Member Manohar Sapkota respectively.

OC Member Nilambar Badal presented two slideshow including “Paradox of Our Time”. Then, OC Member Sujan Koirala conducted IQs and brainstorming session to test the intellectual capacity and presence of mind of members of both the teams.

The team members had the organic dinner at 10:30pm. Each participant was served rice, local chicken curry, lentils, seasonal curries, green vegetables, pickles, and salad. Campfire followed the dinner. The participants had loads of fun dancing and singing in the various blends of music at the campfire. The fun continued till 12:00am.
2_Camp fire

Day 2: July 13, 2013
As per the schedule, the participants woke up at 6:00am. Right after having the breakfast (tea, coffee, chapatti and special butter), the participants of both the teams gathered for hiking at 7:00am. They had a half an hour’s hiking in the nearby area. The next activities were trust building exercises and the members of Oscar and Tycoon gathered at the base of (a) Blind Fall and (b) Trust Fall respectively. Both the activities were conducted to enhance the trust among the members of each team. One by one member of each team successfully completed these two team activities. The trust fall was coordinated by Base-in-charge Manohar Sapkota while blind fall was coordinated by Base-in-charge Sujan Koirala.

At 8:15am, Oscar team prepared for the next activity: Raising Team Performance while Tycoon team for All Aboard. Base-in-charge of Raising Team Performance Manohar Sapkota gave a basin filled with water and asked the team members to seat in the ground putting hands back of their body and raise the water filled basin with the help of their legs as higher as they can. The Base-in-charge of All Aboard Sujan Koirala asked entire team to board in a rope space. He reduced the rope space with the successful completion of the first trial to make the activity more challenging. Then, the Tycoon team involved in Raising Team Performance and Oscar team involved in All Aboard. Both the Base-in-charges added more challenges to give extra flavour and fun. Despite the additional challenges, both the teams successfully completed these two team building games with the cooperation, coordination and team work.
4_Raising team performance by Oscar

The members of both Oscar and Tycoon again teamed up for one of the challenging team building games: Electric Fence. It is a quite interesting and equally challenging game where the entire group must cross over the electric fence without touching the fence. Anyone touching the fence would declare dead. With the proper cooperation and coordination, all the members should pass from one side of the fence to another. Base-in-charge of Electric Fence Sujan Koirala allowed both the teams to discuss with their members for five minutes before the beginning. Both the teams came up with idea and tactics and successfully passed through the fence without touching it.
5_Briefing for electric fence

The beauty of the exposure was that until and unless a team arrives at the base station, none of the members knows about the activity. Upon arrival, the Base-in-charge briefed about the respective activity and allowed enough time for group discussion before actually participating on it. So, each time, when they came at the base station, they were quite surprised to see new and challenging games. Upon completion of every game, the team let out a special team cheer. Similarly, there was such a rule that leadership should be transferred in each successive activity so that each member could get an opportunity to enhance their leadership skills.
6_Outcome of team workshop

At 10:00am, the team members gathered for a team workshop. Coordinator Nilambar Badal gave the title “Team” for the workshop. He involved the members of both the teams in extracting different facets of the team. He asked, “What is team?” After the discussion, they came up with a statement: A team is a group of individuals to perform any task. When he inquired, “What a team should possess?” They came up with few brilliant statements: “The team members should develop positive attitude.” “The team should come up with solutions to conflicts raised in the community and society.” “The team should involve in community development activities.” He further asked the participants, “As a team in which areas will you focus on to develop this country?” They replied: hydropower, tourism, infrastructure development, and manufacturing industry.
7_Team cheer up

Between 10:30am and 11:30am, the Toastmasters team conducted two Toastmasters: Vol. 4, No.1 and Vol. 4, No. 2 consecutively. The Toastmasters of the Day (TMD) Sujan Koirala introduced the first theme of the day: “Story” and the second theme of the day: “Contemporary Issues”. He assigned the theme “Story” for Tycoon and “Contemporary Issue” for Oscar and asked the team leaders to give the name and topic of the three speakers to present their respective speech around the theme area. He then introduced each member of the evaluation committee: Guna Raj Pyakurel in the role of Timer, Laxman B. Pahari as Ah Counter, Binod P. Mainali as Grammarian and Nilambar Badal as Speech cum General Evaluator. The language of the speech delivery was Nepali and each speaker was given three minutes to deliver his/her speech.
8_A glimpse of Toastmasters program

From Tycoon team, under the theme “Story”, Bhagabati Pandey, Dina Nath Ray, and Jamuna Siwakoti spoke on “Positive thinking,” “Opportunity,” and “Wicked mind” respectively. Bhagabati, Dina Nath and Jamuna spoke 3min 25sec, 2min 47sec and 3min 54sec respectively. Similarly, from Oscar team, under the theme “Contemporary Issues”, Ram Sharan Paudel, Debraj Ghimire and Anita Subedi spoke on “Political instability,” “Drugs,” and “Violence against women” respectively. Ram Sharan, Debraj and Anita spoke 3min 5sec, 3min 4sec and 2min 36sec respectively.

TMD Sujan handed the podium to speech cum general evaluator Nilambar. He called for the reports from Timer Guna Raj, Grammarian Binod and Ah Counter Laxman respectively. Accordingly, Guna Raj, Binod and Laxman presented their respective reports on each speaker. Finally, speech cum general evaluator Nilambar came up with his report. He congratulated all six speakers for their attempts. He evaluated each speaker on the basis of speech value, preparation, organisation, opening, body, conclusion and transition. He pointed out the strengths and weaknesses of each speaker and gave valuable tips for the improvement. Besides, he made the general comment on the whole Toastmasters program. He expressed happiness over the successful completion of both the Toastmasters despite running out of time and thanked all for their cooperation. TMD Sujan extended gratitude to all the speakers, evaluation committee members and participants for their full cooperation and formally ended the program.

Despite running out of time, the team members and OC members could manage to have a special organic lunch (rice, chicken curry, lentils, seasonal green vegetables, varieties of pickles and green salad) at 12 noon.

Between 1:00pm and 1:30pm, there were two team building activities: Toxic Waste and Crossing River Together. The Tycoon team and Oscar team respectively involved in Toxic Waste and Crossing River Together and vice versa. The Base-in-charge of the Toxic Waste Bal Gopal Shrestha briefly explained what he expected from each team before the beginning. The challenge is to work out how to transfer the toxic waste from the small bucket into the another bucket where it will be neutralized using only the equipment provided within a certain time frame. The waste will blow up and destroy the world after certain minutes if it is not neutralized. Anyone who ventures into the radiation zone will suffer injury and possibly even death, and spillage will create partial death and destruction. Therefore, the group should aim to save the world and do so without injury to any group members. The rope circle represents the radiation zone emanating from the toxic waste in the bucket.
9_Toxic waste by Tycoon team

Similarly, the Base-in-charge of Crossing River Together Sujan Koirala introduced and explained the rule of the game. All team members stand on one bank of a poisonous river. The river is so contaminated that if any part of a person’s skin or clothing touches the river, they will die instantly. Each team member must cross from one bank of the deadly river to the other in a given time. The team members need to cross this river with the use of a given tool (in this case: mattress) in a certain step. Only the mattress owner may place a mattress in the river, take it from the river, or move it once it is in the river and he/she may do so using his/her hand only. Any failure to keep the body touching the mattress even for a second once placing at river would loss that mattress inviting more complication in crossing the river. With the appreciable team effort and cooperation, both the team managed to complete both Toxic Waste and Crossing River Together though their performance were not pretty convincing.

The last activity of the exposure was Caterpillar Traverse. The Base-in-charge Sujan Koirala briefly introduced the game and the rule. The entire team must travel through the arranged place stepping only at a stated object (in this case: mattress) as a unit. The guidelines include: the boundary ropes and stepping objects (in this case: mattresses) may not be moved; the team members must remain in a line with ankles tied with the ropes throughout the activity; everyone must only step within each mattress; no other equipment can be used; and if any guidelines are broken, the team must begin again. Base-in-charge Sujan told both the teams to travel through the toxic place from opposite directions. It was very challenging and the rope was also low quality. Despite few failing attempts, each team managed to complete the hardest activity of the day. Due to the intensity of the game, the OC members also attempted this activity and successfully passed.
10_Caterpillar traverse by both the teams at once

After the completion of the all activities, members of both the teams were asked to fill up the evaluation form. It is an important way to get their remarks and feedbacks which will guide such activities in future. Accordingly, members were asked to give their feedback voluntarily. Most of the participants shared what they learned and gave feedbacks for future. The Base-in-charges had also made evaluations of each team on five dimensions: leadership, participation, 3Cs (communication, coordination and cooperation), time management, and discipline. They presented their judgment on every aspect respectively. They were pretty satisfied with the performance of both the teams.
11_Group snap

At the end, Coordinator Bal Gopal Shrestha congratulated all thirteen participants for successfully completing all the activities. He heartily thanked all the participants and the organising committee members for their hard work, active participation and cooperation for successfully organising the long awaited and carefully planned Members Outdoor Exposure. He also thanked Rabindra Sir, Malina Madam and Gaun Ghar Farm family for their wonderful hospitality and delicious meals throughout the program. With his vote of thanks, he declared the formal closing of the program. It was already 3:30pm when the participants left for Kathmandu after receiving farewell from Rabindra Sir and Malina Madam. The MOE team arrived at Kathmandu at 6:00pm.

On the basis of the evaluation form filled by the participants, evaluation committee headed by President Sujan Koirala prepared an evaluation report. As reported earlier, twenty persons attended the exposure in which thirteen were the participants while seven were the resource persons. Out of 13 participants, 54 percent were male and 46 percent were female. With respect to the age group, 38 percent of the participants belonged to age group below 30 years while 62 percent belonged to 30 years and above. In terms of occupation of the participants, they ranged from students to housewife and from business to government employee. Similarly, regarding the academic qualification, it ranged from below SLC to Master’s degree. Most of the participants were originally from the Kathmandu valley and few were from other parts of Nepal too.

Each participant was asked to rank the twenty statements in 5-point scales i.e. 1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = neither agree nor disagree, 4 = agree and 5 = strongly agree at the end of the exposure. The mean score of each statement is presented in Table 1.

Table 1: Statement and Score

S.N. Statements Mean
1 I found the exposure is very useful for youths like us. 4.92
2 I have developed good interpersonal skills. 4.46
3 My confidence level has improved. 4.23
4 My personal objectives of the exposure are achieved 4.54
5 Accommodation and food quality are good. 4.77
6 Activities and sessions are arranged quite interestingly and sequentially. 4.54
7 Activities are challenging and adventuresome. 4.85
8 Training environment and facilities are awesome 4.69
9 Training location is good. 4.85
10 My leadership skill has improved in this exposure. 4.31
11 My personality has changed after this exposure. 4.15
12 This exposure is useful for my personal and professional life. 4.62
13 Icebreaking activities are quite helpful in icebreaking with new friends. 4.92
14 My fear of public speaking has gone. 4.38
15 I can vouch that the event could fulfill its objectives. 4.23
16 Resource persons are well qualified and experienced. 4.31
17 Time management is very good. 4.31
18 I am refreshed and revitalised. 4.77
19 The event could achieve mission. “Let’s empower us working as a team.” 4.77
20 I will join such event in future 4.92
Average 4.58

The Table 1 shows that the mean score of the twenty statements ranges between 4.15 and 4.92 which clearly indicate that the participants agree on all the statements. And, the average of the mean score of all twenty statements is 4.58. This is an outstanding score indicating towards the successful outcome of the exposure. The key outcomes of the exposure are presented in Table 2.

Table 2: Key Outcomes

Most liked activities 1. Ice breaking, night line, toxic waste (6 votes)
2. River crossing (3 votes)
3. Toastmasters, hiking (2 votes)
Good impressions 1. Team work
2. Personality development
3. Adventure
4. Natural refreshment
Not good impressions 1. Issues of discipline at session and activity.
2. Few members did not complete the whole program.
Suggestions for future 1. Such programs should be organised regularly (at least once in 3 to 6months).
2. Add more adventures and challenging activities in future.
3. Proper time management must be followed in future activities.
4. Citing lady’s problem, organise a day program.

The Table 2 shows that on the basis of participants’ voting the ice breaking activities, nightline and toxic waste were the three best activities followed by river crossing. The participants indicated team work, personality development, adventure and natural refreshment are the good impressions of the exposure. They could particularly learn to work in a team and boost their personality taking part in adventurous activities organised in a dynamic natural environment. All the participants could have natural refreshment out of their hectic professional and academic schedules.

Referring to Table 2, the participants revealed some issues of discipline at session and activity as not good impressions of the exposure. It would have set a benchmark if each member observed the formality properly. It indicates that the sessions and activities should be stricter. The Pax Earth should address this issue while designing the activities in the future. Due to their own obligations, few participants could not complete the whole program which was not liked by few of the participants. They strongly recommended organising committee to write a strict rule that once entered in such program; s/he cannot go before the completing the whole program.

The participants were also asked to make suggestions for future. They have made the following suggestions:

  1. 1. Such programs should be organised regularly (at least once in 3 to 6months).
  2. 2. Add more adventures and challenging activities in future.
  3. 3. Proper time management must be followed in future activities.
  4. 4. Citing lady’s problem, organise a day program.

From the evaluation form, feedback of the participants, and evaluation of the organising committee members, we can argue that MOE 2013 was one of the most successful events of Pax Earth despite few lapses including the time management. Pax Earth appreciates all these feedbacks and suggestions and will incorporate them in next exposures. Despite tough time and excessive pressure, Pax Earth believes the exposure provided ample opportunities to the members of Oscar and Tycoon to improve their personality, leadership and team building skills.

Pax Earth would like to congratulate all thirteen participants for successfully completing the exposure program. They also deserved special thanks for their active participation and support for smoothly coordinating the activities. The Coordinator Bal Gopal Shrestha and the members of organising committee: Sujan Koirala, Nilambar Badal, Binod P. Mainali, Manohar Sapkota, Guna Raj Pyakurel and Laxman B. Pahari deserve a great salute for managing the whole program effectively and appealingly. Pax Earth would also thank Rabindra Sir, Malina Madam and Gaun Ghar Farm team for wonderful hospitality, delicious meals and materials arrangements.

Indeed, the exposure could empower all the participants in a dynamic natural learning environment. Pax Earth looks forward to organise next exposure in the near future.

Reported by PEN Secretariat!