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Get down and dirty for team building at Longhorn Cavern

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

BURNET — The idea of going underground for team-building exercises may sound a bit, well, different or even downright foreign to you, but when you think about it a bit longer, it really makes a lot of sense.

And that’s exactly what groups participating in the Cave Rescue Challenge at Longhorn Cavern State Park will discover as well as how to operate better as a cohesive unit.

“It’s basically designed to give groups a chance to learn to work together as a team rather than having a whole bunch of chiefs,” said Chris Utley, the Longhorn Cavern State Park manager. The program, which is scheduled for Oct. 11, Oct. 25, Nov. 8, Nov. 22 and Dec. 13, is not affiliated with nor conducted by the Strange Terrain Organized Rescue unit. STORM is dispatched to Longhorn Cavern State Park in cases of emergency that a regular paramedic or first responder unit can’t handle.

When people think about team-building exercises or programs, they typically conjure up events set up in above-ground environments where participants have plenty of room to work and maneuver. The Cave Rescue Challenge puts people in a very unique setting.

“It definitely a different environment than most people are used to,” Utley said.

The team-building event features a cave-rescue scenario in which the group must locate an injured person (replicated by a strategically placed dummy) and then safely get the victim out of the cave.

At first review, it sounds rather simple, but when you factor in the tight spaces and other terrain in the cavern, the exercise becomes more complicated, requiring a high degree of cooperation.

“The Cave Rescue Challenge is put on by people who want to build teamwork in groups like the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts or any organization interested in developing that cooperation at a higher level,” Utley said.

The program lasts four hours with three in the cave and one hour in a classroom setting for briefing and debriefing.

The class requires both mental and physical work as the team navigates underground structures, problem solves and gets dirty. But along with the valuable team-building lessons, everybody celebrates a sense of adventure as well.

“I think it’s a program you won’t experience many other places,” Utley added.

Reservations are required for the program. Groups or organizations interested in setting up or participating in the Cave Rescue Challenge can call (830) 598-CAVE or go to www.longhorncaverns.com for more information or to sign up. The park is located at 6211 Park Road 4 South.

daniel@thepicayune.com