Paddling Your Group’s Way to Success – Underground Kayaking as a Teambuilding Activity for Group Outings


By Olivia Orman

Many companies seek new and exciting ways to unify professionals in their organization to help them effectively collaborate in group settings.  Meeting planners typically accomplish this objective by employing team building activities that foster connections, promote problem-solving, and help the group overcome obstacles.  One unique group outing opportunity: Kayaking tours… in a cave.

Meet Over Paddles

The idea of kayaking in a cave may sound a little too adventurous for some, but one business in the St. Louis region has made this outing accessible for groups and paddlers of many ranges and levels of experience.  Based in Crystal City, Marsan Canoe & Kayaking Tours guides groups of 10-40 participants through a 160-acre lake over the span of two hours, which was once a mine in the early 1900s.  In fact, there are 90 columns in this cave alone.

The Group Publisher and an editor of MEET Missouri took a Marsan Canoe & Kayaking Tour to see how it could benefit groups looking to boost team efforts.  Joe Clote, Group Publisher of MEET Missouri, explains: “This kayaking tour forces groups to partake in an activity that creates a level of discomfort.  Teams overcome new challenges through collaboration, and, while the paddling portion of this excursion is a solo effort, your group will share the commonality of conquering an adventurous undertaking.  This creates connection and increases teamwork.”

The Ultimate Challenge

Although kayaking in a cave already creates a unique bonding experience among paddlers in itself, there is that specific part of this experience that requires attendees to exit their comfort zone on a much larger level.  Paddlers are guided through a narrow space known as the ‘squeeze box’, which is, essentially, a small compartment that paddlers need to pass through, in order to proceed with the tour.

As paddlers approach the ‘squeeze box’, the ceiling of the cave starts to inch closer to the water level, which requires paddlers to maneuver their paddle into their kayak, and then continue to glide their boat through the water by pushing their fists against the top of the cave in a forward motion.  The ceiling of the cave drops very low – to the point that paddlers need to lie all the way down in their boat in order to pass through the actual ‘squeeze box’.

Traveling eight yards through the ‘squeeze box’ with the top of the cave four inches away from one’s nose requires a willingness to face the fear of being ‘boxed in’ to make it to the other side.  One of Marsan’s tour guides has the ability to guide two boats through the ‘squeeze box’ at a time, so two attendees have the chance to conquer this narrow passage together.

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A Year-round Group Activity

Underground kayaking experiences facilitated by Marsan Canoe & Kayaking Tours take place all year long, as the cave retains a constant 40-degree temperature.  Thus, this opportunity is the perfect way to plan a group adventure for your organization during any time of the year.

An editor from MEET Missouri explained what groups could walk away with after experiencing this tour.  The highlight: “Before going through the ‘squeeze box’, you will realize it is you against your obstacle.  It may appear daunting to overcome this challenge alone, so work through it with a teammate who likely has the same concern.  This principle holds true to a work environment as well.”

Consider paddling your group outside its comfort zone for your next team building session.  You may have to motivate your group to dig up their headlights and sense of adventure, but you may find the thrill and collaborative outcomes make this excursion well worth it.


Olivia Orman is a contributing writer from St. Louis.

For 20+ years, the MEET family of products have provided regional and national resources that have kept corporate, association, medical, education, independent, and religious meeting and event planners informed about relevant vendors, industry news, tech innovations, and resources that impact and influence how and where they plan their group business.

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