When teambuilding doesn't go according to plan

The planned team weekend at the luxurious estate Statek Otovice encountered a series of unforeseen challenges, such as a power outage and heating failure. The original plans for agrotourism and disconnecting from electronics shifted. Our ability to cooperate and solve problems as a team was put to the test, but in the end, we managed to adapt, celebrate successes, and emerged from this experience stronger.

The beginning was good

After intensive weeks of preparation, our class set off on the first weekend of February in 2023 for a journey to a luxurious estate named Statek Otovice. Everything was beautifully arranged and planned, but nothing could prepare us for the challenges that awaited. On Friday morning, we left the university parking lot together in cars, and after a 3-hour journey, we arrived at the destination. We were all in awe as we looked around for the first time. A luxurious villa in a rustic style, packed with modern amenities and everything we needed. There was even a swimming pool, sauna, hot tub, and other things that we didn’t hesitate to try out immediately.

Our first night at the estate was great. Just as you would imagine 22 university students alone in a cottage. However, let’s first take a look at our weekend plan so that we can compare expectations and reality.

Expectations and the original plan

After the initial brainstorming session about what we should do in the spirit of team building, we came up with the idea of agrotourism – to transform the weekend from our modern lifestyle back to nature and actively collaborate to overcome all obstacles. Well, as you can see, this original idea quickly changed with this luxurious villa, but by the end of our story, this point will make perfect sense. We also planned to create smaller teams, each responsible for entertainment and meals on different days. Another great idea was to minimize the use of our phones and electronic devices, to truly get to know each other. So, after deciding on the kind of teambuilding that would suit our needs, a smaller group of students got to work on selecting the location, making reservations, and overall organization.

Later, a few problems emerged...

After our first look at this magical place, we set out to explore the surroundings. The first night, we enjoyed ourselves without any pressure or constraints, but this feeling didn’t last long. Around three in the morning, the electricity went out. At first, we thought it was an easily fixable issue, so we continued through the night assuming someone else would take care of it. But that wasn’t the case. Waking up the next morning with partially frozen body parts wasn’t the best feeling. It turned out that the electricity had gone out all around the area. At least we weren’t alone in this, right?

And here is where we began to realize what we had actually gotten ourselves into. After a few discussions, we found out that we were in the middle of nowhere, without food, heating, or electricity. So, the first rescue team was formed, which I’d like to call the ‘rescue team’ because that’s exactly how I felt. We literally had to travel for about an hour to get some food and also some firewood. As it turned out, our only way to prepare anything was a small outdoor grill. After what felt like an eternity, we returned to our hungry friends with the ‘catch’ of the day. With the help of others, we quickly gathered all the necessary items and started cooking… outside, while it was snowing.

The first meal we prepared was a late lunch, and it consisted of ‘DIY’ burritos, where we prepared the ingredients and everyone could make their own version. Then we cleaned up a bit, but eventually, we decided to leave most things outside since we didn’t have a functional fridge to store the food.

Turning point

After successfully solving one of our problems, we decided that we all deserved a well-earned break. People settled into different groups, engaged in conversations, played pool or various board games, or watched a movie on one of the laptops that hadn’t died yet. However, something disrupted our afternoon leisure. We noticed strange noises coming from the radiators. Since we didn’t have heating, some people had been trying to light a fire in the fireplace all day – unsuccessfully in the morning, as we only had wet wood. When we finally managed to get the fireplace going, it turned out to be a problem, as it eventually overheated the whole heating system, causing pressure to build up in the pipes. Those strange noises were actually indicating that an explosion might occur at any moment. This led to a quick break for mental breakdowns, which we eventually resolved by calling the owner – who didn’t really help us much – and then extinguishing the fire and turning off the heating completely. That was the crisis moment when everyone realized the true responsibility of working together as a group. As darkness fell, we lit candles all around the house. Finally, we calmed down, decided to finish the movie, and just wait for the electricity to come back. Suddenly, it happened, and the whole villa erupted in loud cheers as the first light bulb illuminated. We all rushed to the food, recharged our energy, and decided to pick up where we left off yesterday. Just as we started celebrating, the most tragic moment of our entire journey occurred. Let the following image speak for itself.

Last dinner

After going through various states of euphoria and despair, we decided to grill our food outside again – in style. That’s when our personal chef and his assistants arrived to save the day and grilled the most delicious dinner we could have – grilled steak with vegetables.


In the end, I believe we all agree that we had a great weekend, even though everything that could go wrong went wrong. It definitely taught us not to take things for granted – just like in the case of agrotourism – to strive for solutions even in seemingly impossible situations, and last but not least, to always try to work together as a group. In the end, everyone is good at something different, and you never know when someone might be able to help you. Ultimately, we all learned a lot about each other – our problem-solving skills, how we perform under pressure, how well we can improvise to make things work, and what our drinking limits are. In conclusion, I’d say that this is the real essence of team-building activities. For having had this opportunity, we’re thankful to Robert Zich and the entire ESBD for sponsoring our stay in Otovice, the ‘teambuilding’ team, the ‘rescue’ team, and everyone who contributed in some way to this fantastic experience.

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