Late at night in a parking lot somewhere in America, a group of men and women file silently to a waiting van. They're in full camouflage, with branches woven into their hair and special makeup to render them almost invisible in the darkness. They are on a covert mission. They are going on (gasp) an incentive trip!
Thatís an exaggeration, of course. They probably donít need the makeup. But thanks to several high-profile luxury outings from companies receiving bailout money, it might come to this. If word gets out that your company is planning some meeting or trip that may have some fun involved, everyone will start howling like youíve stolen Joe the Plumberís soldering iron. So maybe we should explore ways to have some under-the-radar fun.
Scavenger Hunt: Under the guise of a low-budget scavenger hunt, lucky participants can duck behind rocks, trees and shrubbery to scarf down snacks and take a swig from a Gatorade bottle full of an amusing, yet sassy Chateaux Margaux. As long as the contestants emerge with typical scavenger hunt items, like a moldy baseball cap or a deflated Smokey the Bear balloon, no one in the circling T.A.R.P. surveillance helicopters will be any the wiser.
Creative Construction: With a little imagination, even projects that benefit a community can become an occasion for some forbidden fun. Why not have a large "tool shed" where attendees can slip away in small groups to go sharpen their chisels or some such carpenter-type activity? Inside the shed there could be a mini spa, with therapeutic massages, facials and an array of tasty treats tucked behind shelves lined with woodworking paraphernalia. Before emerging from the shed, make sure to spritz with a pleasantly scented bottle of fake sweat. This will quell the suspicions of the T.A.R.P. patrols that surreptitiously scope out even the slightest semblance of fun.
Festive Spelunking: This cave exploring junket begins with everyone arrayed in official-looking National Geographic duds, while a rented professor lectures about stalactites, geodes and other geological terminology. This not only distracts the T.A.R.P. snoops, it also might make some of them nod off. Then everyone can switch on their hardhat lamps, file inside and get the party started! In the eerie glow of the cave (with black light special effects) a D.J. dressed like a bat will spin some tunes while everyone dances and noshes on a buffet of underground delights. When the party winds down, a quick smear of pate on the cheeks can simulate cave dirt as the attendees emerge, grimy but educated, from the subterranean shindig.
These are only a few ideas of how to have some furtive fun until everyone comes to their senses and realizes that corporate awards arenít always a taxpayer rip-off. With a little creativity, events planners everywhere can ignore T.A.R.P. and focus on P.A.R.T. Y.
By Mike Donlin.
Mike does technical, marketing and creative wriiting for The Write Solution, his freelance business. He can help your company wend its way through the vagaries of the English language, and prides himself on his intimate knowledge of gerunds, semicolons and dipthongs. If you'd like Mike to pen a tome on a timely technical topic, you can reach him at email@example.com or 603-889-4955.