Team building around a fire is a ritual of our species that goes back more than 500,000 years. In the last centuries of our evolution the benefit of gathering around fire has largely been lost, particularly since we replaced fire with television as a focal point.
If you want to have a full and frank conversation with someone then there is no better place to do it than around a fire. We stop and rest and say ‘now is a good time to hear your story in full’. Instead of the staccato clipped conversations of the office, shoe horned between other commitments, we take time around the fire to hear everything.
Staring into the flame the mind is stimulated in a profound way. It is opened and creativity and empathy can be accessed in full. The flames are charging and cleansing.
There are many ways in which fire can be built into a team bonding event. One way is to organise a survival or camping event, however, such experiences do not suit everyone. Many hotels have an area in which a good fire can be built and an evening around a fire is a novel and extremely effective team bonding exercise.
A barbecue lends itself ideally to an environment with a central fire. Entertainment can be arranged to make for a truly spectacular and memorable evening; fire dancing where a flame is twirled around the body is mesmerising, but clearly you need a professional demonstrator and instructor. Jumping over a small fire is also a very stimulating activity.
Walking over hot coals is used by a variety of organisations to promote personal and team development around goal setting. This can be very effective but, again, it is essential that a professional and experienced organiser is employed as there have been well publicised accidents. Fire walking, when organised properly, is safe.
Fire is a powerful medium that has been used by mankind for hundreds of thousands of years as a team bonding tool. In recent years we have forgotten the importance of fire in our rituals. A team bonding event created around a central fire where individuals have time to meet and discuss their issues in full with revitalise and bond a team.