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Staff Retreat Programme: World Health Organization, Country Office Sri Lanka (WCO) - “Wild Drift Team Challenge”



World Health Organization Country Office (WCO) Sri Lanka participated in Staff Retreat Program named “Wild Drift Team Challenge” which was conducted in Sigiriya from 16th to 18th October 2009. This was a long felt need after a period of nearly four years and conducted as a joint venture with “Wild Drift” which is management training Company that carries out their programmes in a different way in the wilderness!


But it was more than just an outing with some outdoor activities and was filled with full of hopes and expectations. The belief that by taking training out of the usual workplace environment those participants may gain a unique perspective on the challenges and issues they face on a daily basis was the thinking behind exploring this type of adventure.



The overall objectives of the retreat program were:

Team Building,

Impact Assessment of Programs,

Strategizing for the Future and

Overall Staff Wellbeing.


Objectives of the Team Building Component were:

Inspiring and sharing one single dream as a bonded Team, who could demonstrate more than perceived skills and talents including leadership skills

Thinking out of the box to challenge the obstacles with limited resources

Empathetic communication and respecting differences

Balancing Results, processes and relationships


It is a team venture between the facilitators from “Wild Drift” who have done many research and study programmes on experiential training and adult education together with staff of WCO who composed of persons with varying degrees of expertise, qualifications ,experiences, knowledge, skills, emotions ,attitudes ,believes ,norms and values. The profile of participants included from WHO Representative (WR) to Sri Lanka, members of Professional (P) Staff and General (G) Staff, Drivers/Messengers and Helpdesk colleagues. The age of participants ranges from 27 to 68 years.


The team building starts on the way on 16 October 2009 to Sigiriya itself by dividing into two groups and answering a set of quizzes built up on general knowledge of the places passed. Once arrived at the Elephant Corridor Hotel in Kibissa , Sigiriya the team building session continued.


The main activity “Treasure Hunt” for the second day started following an Ice Breaking, session. “Treasure Hunt” was an energizing event with full of passion and fun. The pre planning, skill identification, role allocation, task orientation, effective planning, performing tasks beyond perceived limitations whilst facing changes in the environment were the main focus of learning. The video debriefing session allowed the participants to observe and learn from their own experiences.


The “Social Evening” with a truly Sri Lankan professional dancing group and “Fancy Dress Parade” of which WCO staff members participated on the second day evening brought essence into the retreat

Third day was still useful with activities for mind stretching, empathetic communication and think out of the box games. The “Tactical Action Game –Paint Ball “ which involved shooting with washable and biodegradable balls of paint with carbon dioxide powered paint ball guns was one of the task for the third day. Two teams who are armed with Paint Ball guns battled out for supremacy in achieving predefined objectives which was subsequently followed by a debriefing session.



Short presentations by P staff and WR were one event specially designed for participants to assess and depict strategic Office Specific Expected Results (OSERS) in respective work plans. The innovative actions which will be taken up once go back were identified.


One of the deliverables out of the staff retreat was to put into practice the “Trim Tab “of a ship (Trim tab is the device that moves the direction of the rudder). Sri Lanka is elucidated as an ocean with ports of call depicted as the six components of the Country Corporation Strategy (CCS) in the framework of the National Health Services Plan.

An “Action point chart from the WHO retreat in Sigiriya (16-18 October 2009)” was drawn up as the other deliverable. Fire safety, prevention of non communicable diseases and promotion of healthy life styles, promotion of “recycling” of waste or solid waste management, WCO retreat experience ,ways to continue and reinforce the positive experience from retreat, possible solutions to transportation challenges, rotation of staff at reception, new PABX system, support provided by WCO for organization of regional workshops, follow up of on technical session on workplan, OSER and ,CCS progress on workplans and next retreat were among the action points given much priority .



Staff retreat program of WCO Sri Lanka was a refreshing and useful event for almost all the staff members who participated and will be an initiation to move forward as one team to achieve a common goal. In short during “Wild Drift Team Challenge” participants together with facilitators spent almost 36 hours together, engaging in various experiential learning activities – facing new challenges, learning more about themselves and fellow team members, and of course having fun!