Drafting the Next Chapter

Team Andaman Looks Inward and Onward

An unexamined life is not worth living, said Socrates more than two millennia ago, and, like life itself, the complexities of community development and conservation also require an introspective spirit. With that in mind, Andaman Discoveries dedicated the entire last weekend of May to a working staff retreat.

Teamwork was the common goal, from the opening icebreaker in which everyone bunched together in a circle, then bent down and attempted to walk as one, to a finale of “Twister!” For the two days in-between the team worked as one, reviewing the Andaman Discoveries’ mission statement, organizational chart, and everyone’s individual contributions, with fresh feedback and ideas. The retreat was intense at times, as everyone delved deep into planning and direction. But with expert facilitation from seasoned veteran and friend Bill Tuffin, a firm team commitment, and a common vision of future viability, amorphous ideas crystallized into firm plans and clearer roles.

The retreat was held in Khao Sok National Park at Our Jungle House, which is nestled amongst 25 acres of idyllic lush rainforest bordering the Sok River and soaring limestone cliffs. This was the natural choice for the retreat due to its peaceful setting, open working space, environmental philosophy, and proximity to Kuraburi.

As anyone familiar with Andaman Discoveries knows, we work hard and play even harder, and by late Saturday afternoon serious fun was in order! The team hopped on inner tubes and plunged into the Sok River for a long, relaxing ride. The day’s intensity quickly dissolved in the crystal-clear mountain water. “It was stunning to be floating down a river in an inner tube with the rising moon and limestone cliffs looming above” said Leslie Welshimer.

Those with an insatiable appetite for adventure indulged in an encore trip, and were treated to perhaps the highlight of the weekend. At one point a bamboo shoot cantilevered over the river, on which a family of monkeys was foraging. We silently glided underneath just as the baby leapt through the air onto its mother’s back. Papa meanwhile dangled from the pole while fixing the spellbound tubers with a cautious simian gaze. The poignant encounter with nature was a reminder of why responsible tourism is important, and was one of those magical moments in Thailand that force one to pause and wonder, Is this a dream?