Winter Adventure - Enlightenment in Chewelah

by Joel Smith & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & M & lt;/span & aybe you're a CEO who's caught one too many employees playing quarters when they should be filling out TPS reports, or stifling laughter every time you walk in the room ("Does it smell like fire extinguisher in here?" you ask yourself). Office morale is at an all-time low. "Teamwork" is chock-full of "I"s. You know what you need? A retreat.

You could take the proles to Hooters, or to that conference room in River Park Square, for team-building activities. But it's sunny and cold outside. The sky is blue, and the mountains are piling up with snow. RPS is bo-ring.

Impress your office robots with a two-day trip to the Chewelah Peak Learning Center, a 20-acre retreat not a mile away from the 49 Degrees North ski resort. Built in 2003, the center hosts church groups, women's retreats, school groups, science ed and summer leadership programs for kids and adults from around the state.

Spend your morning doing the "trust walk" and building a "commitment bridge," in the main lodge (which holds up to 380 people), then hit the Challenge Course for real-life lessons in relationship development and conflict resolution. Break for lunch in the spacious dining hall, then loose your employees upon the slopes of 49 Degrees North. With any luck, the lesson they learned that morning about effective communication skills will sink in halfway through a righteous mid-air spread-eagle on a double-diamond trail. Right before they crash to the ground in a flurry of skis and poles and broken femurs. (Relax, the learning center's got an infirmary, too.)

By day's end, your little monkeys will be so tuckered out they'll have forgotten all about the tedium of claims processing and will at last share your true and beautiful vision for the future of the company.

Later that night, huddled around one of the two campfires (one's inside; one's outside), tell them scary stories from your beginnings in the company mail room -- Old Man Jenkins had a stapler for a hand! -- then tuck them into their bunk beds with visions of fax machines dancing in their heads.

For reservations at the Chewelah Peak Learning Center, call (509) 935-7400 or visit

Golden Harvest: Flour Sacks from the Permanent Collection @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 15
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