Leesburg, Virginia, September 2017 … The National Conference Center, the award-winning property in Leesburg, Virginia, introduces a new approach to teambuilding and leadership development, “Challenge by Choice”, facilitated by The Browne Center for Innovative Learning. The National has partnered with The Browne Center to provide a variety of experiential learning programs. Challenge by Choice is a method of making learning fun that involves people of all capabilities to learn from a common physical and cognitive activity.

Often attendees shy away from doing physical activities, afraid to be embarrassed or are physically incapable. With Challenge by Choice, no one is left behind. Facilitators find a way for all attendees to participate. At the recent Reston Herndon Meeting Planners (RHMP) Summer Camp, Challenge by Choice was introduced. The Browne Center, along with The National, created a series of relationship building and competitive, collaborative activities. One activity was Paper Lofting, a fun, high energy activity providing multiple groups the opportunity to compete or collaborate in problem solving and creativity. Concepts around positive brainstorming and best practices were highlighted. This session took place outside at The National’s 65-acre campus.

RHMP is a membership organization with over 200 meeting and event industry professionals that are located in the Northern Virginia and Washington, DC area. The one-day Summer Camp agenda consisted of education development, networking and teambuilding, The National was the perfect host for this program, with its 265,000-sq.-ft.-meeting and experiential learning campus, 35 miles from Washington, DC.

Over a hundred planners and suppliers, the largest attendance ever for this event, enjoyed the Summer Camp theme, which was designed in collaboration with the RHMP planning committee. The themed event included props and realistic camping equipment complete with teepee, teddy bear picnic, campfire and fishing outfits, a snack table with bug juice, gummy snacks and trail mix with red and white gingham tablecloths and wooden pencils to take notes at the general session and breakouts.

"The National staff said they would do their very best to put on a good show for our group and they did! Many thanks for working so hard to make the first RHMP Summer Camp such a smashing success,” said Marguerite Leishman, Manager Meetings & Events at the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The educational component was delivered with a variety of fun, creative and interactive programs. John Walsh, Food and Beverage Director at The National, and his culinary team delivered an interactive cooking demonstration, titled ‘Smokin’ Shrimp Bisque’ to show planners how a live cooking demonstration can be dramatic and a show-stopper at a future meeting. Mary Watson-Delauder, the only Chief Wine Officer at a conference center facility, concluded with a wine tasting and described how to pick wines that pair well with foods. The National offers 10 different wine workshops that are interactive ice breakers or full blown teambuilding experiences for meetings. See the full list of wine workshops here.

Guests ended the day by making S’mores over the fire pits. Each guest received a Go Big S’mores kit to take home. The burlap bag was designed by The National’s talented conference staff. To see a video of the event, click here

Challenge by Choice is just one of the many elements of the Challenge Course at The National. To learn more about teambuilding and experiential learning programs, click here.