Delicious Brains in Nova Scotia: Our Third Annual Company Retreat

Please Note: SpinupWP was a Delicious Brains product until Delicious Brains was sold to WP Engine in June 2022 and SpinupWP became independent as it is today. This article describes a Delicious Brains retreat that included the SpinupWP team as well as non-SpinupWP team members.

Back in August, our team met up for our third annual company retreat. We chose a location (literally) close to my heart: Nova Scotia.

This year was the first year we met up with the sole purpose of the company retreat. In previous years, we tacked our retreat onto conferences like WordCamp Europe or WordCamp Miami.

Planning

In the past, I’ve taken on the task of planning and making all the arrangements for our meetups myself. This year, I hired an event planner and man, it was awesome.

In previous years, I had probably spent more than 20 hours planning our retreats. This year, working with the event planner meant planning our meetup took significantly less time. And bonus, she did a much better job than I ever would have.

We still incorporated some planning things that worked well for us in the past – setting up a Google Doc with all the accommodation details & FAQs for the team for one.

Here’s the schedule we ended up with (and mostly followed):

Monday 14

Tuesday 15

Wednesday 16

Thursday 17

Friday 18

Saturday 19

It ended up mostly pouring on Saturday, so we adjusted to rainy-day friendly activities.

Sunday 20 (last day!)

Our Accommodations

No fancy rooftop apartment this year; instead, we were in cabins on the Nova Scotia shore. Each cabin could only sleep 2-3 people which meant they were perfect for our product teams.

The cabins would have worked really well for working in teams, but the Wi-Fi was awful in all but one cabin. The WP Offload S3 team were able to work out of their cabin a bit. Fortunately the main lodge had good Wi-Fi and the resort gave the rest of us a conference room to work out of, so it all worked out fine. Just a minor inconvenience in the end.

Our Nova Scotia chalets

The cabins meant a lot more outdoor activity and fire sitting than last year. Some of our UK team had their first smores and even learned important life lessons like biting the smore stick isn’t recommended. 😆

The team gathered around a bonfire

Highlights

Seeing each other in person is always a highlight and lets us have some of the impromptu conversations we wouldn’t have otherwise.

We had new team members join us this year, Pete, Liz, and Evan. Kind of amazing to see that even as our team expands, each new person feels like a friend we haven’t seen in awhile and the joke-cracking is instant. Especially with Pete.

We did a lot more activities this year, including:

Golf (Iain’s favorite by far)

Nova Scotia golf views
Jeff’s photo of Brad and Liz taking photos

Go-Karts (Gilbert’s favorite by far)

Helmet sefliesGilber and Ashley goofing off in Go-Kart gear


Laser Tag

Very seriously listening to Laser Tag instructions

Wine Tour & Tasting

Listening the history of the Novia Scotia winery

Fresh Lobsters

Live lobsters on the picnic table

And Tons More

We put together more highlights in this Moment on Twitter:

Costs

This year’s event was almost double the cost of last year:

 $6,000  Accommodation
 $5,700  Meals, Activities, Entertainment
$10,500  Travel
 $2,000  Event Management
---------------------------------
$24,200 USD

Although we had three more people this year, the main reasons why it cost so much more is that we participated in a lot more activities, had more accommodations than we needed, and we had five overseas flights compared to just three last year. The three USA-Canada flights were quite expensive as well.

Next Time

We started talking about our next retreat almost as soon as everyone signed in to Slack the first day back.

I’ve decided that a year is a little too long between retreats and so we’ll try meet up every 8 months. With the distributed team, it can be hard to find a location that is an easy flight for everyone. For next year, we’re looking at Jamaica.

Overall, Nova Scotia was a great time and fun to show off some of my home turf to my team. Of course, we’re all already looking forward to the next one.

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Author

Brad Touesnard

As founder of SpinupWP, Brad has worn many hats. Although he has a background in development and system administration, he spends most of his time helping the SpinupWP team with product management, UX, roadmap, and marketing.

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