Kris Bordessa is the author of Team Challenges: 170+ Group Activities to Build Cooperation, Communication, and Creativity. Ultimate Camp Resource was given an opportunity to speak with Kris about her new book, her creative process, and a little bit about what makes her tick.
UCR: Tell us a little about your background.
Kris Bordessa: My family - myself, my husband and two boys,
10 & 13 - are native
Californians now living on the Big Island of Hawaii and having a fabulous
adventure. Before becoming a mother, I worked in the field of landscape
architecture. When I left work to become a full-time mom, I began pursuing
a different passion - writing. I've written for numerous publications
including Disney's FamilyFun, Parenting and Brain, Child. I also write a
monthly column for Nick Jr. Family Magazine. My kids are educated at home,
and are very involved in two youth programs: the 4-H Youth Development
Program and Destination Imagination.
UCR: Besides writing, what are some of your other interests?
Kris Bordessa: I'm an avid gardener- I'm famous for planting
"just one more tomato plant"
until I've got two dozen or more plants. I preserve much of what I grow,
so we have homemade salsa and marinara sauce year round. I also enjoy
camping, hiking - and while we're living near the ocean - snorkeling and
UCR: What inspired you to write and create the activities
you include in
your book Team Challenges: 170+ Group Activities to Build Cooperation,
Communication, and Creativity?
Kris Bordessa: My involvement with the Destination Imagination
(www.idodi.org) was the catalyst for this book. I've been volunteering in
the program for about five years. In addition to the long term challenge
the kids work to solve, they are presented with team building challenges
at each meeting. When I first began as a team manager, I had trouble
finding new challenges for each meeting, and I began creating them myself.
With my writing background and the knowledge that books like this were
hard to find, I decided to try to turn my collection into a book. Several
years later, here I am!
UCR: What are some of your favorite memories as a participant
in programs like
Kris Bordessa: The two highlights of every 4-H year were the
county fair and 4-H summer
camp. Showing animals at the county fair meant that we were in the barns
from sun-up to sundown, caring for the animals and preparing for various
events. The fair was electrifying - the noise, the smells, the food - and
spending days on end as part of the event, rather than simply being a
visitor for one day, was so much fun.
Summer camp was a great opportunity to spend time with 4-Hers from all
over the county - each year, friendships were renewed and new friends were
made. My favorite part of camp, though, was campfire. We did silly skits
and had zany competitions, sang camp songs and played games. It was very
much an atmosphere of camaraderie and fun. I think perhaps that's why I've
loved creating the activities in Team Challenges so much - I see them as
being just the kind of activity that will become fond memories for kids of
a new generation.
UCR: Were there any challenges you faced in the creation
of the activities
featured in your book? At any time, did the creation seem a daunting task?
Kris Bordessa: Creating the activities themselves was really
pretty simple. What was
difficult for me was going from ideas to a finished product. I had to
learn to create a manuscript in the format requested by my publisher, and
help figure out how to convey the different aspects of each challenge so
that they were consistent throughout the book.
UCR: Who did you write this book for, or what is the book's desired audience?
Kris Bordessa: Well, my initial thought was that if *I* needed
activities like this for
my Destination Imagination work, so would others who were involved with
creative problem solving programs like DI and Odyssey of the Mind. But as
the book and the activities developed, I began to see that others might
use these activities as well. My publisher is particularly interested in
getting these activities into the hands of teachers. It has been suggested
that these activities would be great for birthday parties and family
reunions. And, I know at least one instance of these activities being used
for team building purposes within an adults-only service organization. So,
while I initially planned to fill a need for the creative problem solving
community, the audience for this book has expanded to include many other
UCR: The activities in the book foster the development of
leadership with a focus on making the process fun and enjoyable. How
important do you consider these aspects in life?
Kris Bordessa: Making things fun and enjoyable is such a great
way for people to learn -
who retains anything from a boring discourse?? I've seen over and over
again how kids will take lessons learned from one of the Team Challenge
activities and apply it at another time - either in another Team
Challenge, or even to solve a real-life problem. Letting kids test their
ideas without adult interference encourages their creativity and through
working together, they learn the fine art of communication and teamwork.
People with these skills are great leaders.
UCR: So, if you were given a container that held a tennis
ball, four markers of
various color, some paper, 6 paper clips, a length of string, and a straw
what would you do with it?
Kris Bordessa: I'd create an Art Pendulum. Saturate the tennis
ball with the four
different colors, fashion a hanger from the paper clips and string, tape a
piece of paper to a wall and get artistic. To use the Art Pendulum, dip
the straw in water, wet the tennis ball a bit and set the pendulum in
motion. Hey - I may just have to try this!
UCR: What?s next for you?
Kris Bordessa: I have two new books forthcoming, both of which
offer some fun hands-on
learning for kids: Tools of the Ancient Greeks and Great Colonial America
Projects You Can Build Yourself, both from Nomad Press.
This summer, my family and I will likely be heading back to our home in
Northern California, where I will continue my involvement in 4-H and
Destination Imagination. We are doing both of these activities during our
time in Hawaii, but it's not the same - I miss my DI and 4-H kids back
UCR: Thanks a lot Kris! Best of luck with the book!
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