Photo: (Courtsey) Jerry Hseih
On a cloudy cold morning our batch boarded the bus and left for Guyasuta. For a person like me who had spent his last 6 years staring at a computer in the office, outdoor adventurous activities can be quite nerve-racking. But that is exactly the idea behind those challenging activities that were planned for us at Camp Guyasuta. The idea was to get out of our comfort zone and try something new, something beyond our perceived ability. Eventually, as I got out of my comfort zone doing those activities, I rediscovered the child in me that used to roam around the hills in the coalfields of eastern India. And it was not just me. There were many among us who caught a glimpse of their childhood that day. It was quite an experience.
Camp Guyasuta is located in Sharpsburg, hardly some distance from Pittsburgh. It was just half an hour drive away from Tepper. It was almost drizzling when we got there. After reaching the camp we were asked to quickly assemble in our teams and start the activities. Almost all of the activities involved teamwork, strategy, communication, and physical and mental strength. This was an opportunity to work with a diverse group of people. I had my reservations about how the activities would turn out to be and how I would work with people that I didn’t know before. But as soon as the first rule for the camp was declared, things fell in place. And the rule was pretty simple – “There is no personal space!!!” It acted as an ice breaker. Our team environment was quite friendly right from the start. And as far as I know, it was true for every other team as well. I realized something important from this experience – when a team is built with people having an open mindset, no matter how diverse they are in their background or outlook, the team environment is extremely positive. I could see that every team member gave his/her 100% to a goal; it was achieved, no matter how intimidating it looked in the beginning. No question asked, no excuse given. Everyone worked towards the goal as a single unit. In the end, though people were exhausted and bruised, they were happy and satisfied. And when someone asked about the experience, it was almost in unison – “Amazing!!!”
I am not sure if this is true for all the high performing teams, but I saw a high performing team that day. A team where people had each other’s backs; where you knew that there is somebody to support you even if you fail; where no one person was the super star and everyone was an achiever; where it was OK to make mistakes while putting in your sincere effort; where people appreciated if you went the extra mile to help the team. And that is the best learning I have taken from the Camp Guyasuta experience. I saw how a team becomes an invincible force when personal agendas are set aside in the interest of the team goal.
I had heard about the strong sense of community among Tepper students, and I am glad that I have begun to see that right in the first month of being here. It’s turning out to be a community that yells right in front of your face – “Go on… Don’t worry… We have got your back!”