Summer Fun Day 2020

A Socially Distanced Strategic Planning Day!

La Cocinita Food Truck

Every summer, we celebrate our annual Summer Fun Day! Traditionally, our team steps out of the office to bond and partake in a strategic planning day.

Each team member writes a blog post that shares their insights and expertise about a branding or marketing topic. Throughout the day, we present our blog posts and have internal discussions about improving our work. The rest of the day is filled with fun activities Chicago has to offer like visiting museums, biking, and enjoying delicious food at local restaurants.

Of course, Summer Fun Day 2020 was a little more challenging to plan.

After a long spring and summer filled with transitioning to remote work and virtual collaboration, our team set out to turn off Slack and plan a day to be together in person again.

Luckily, the weather worked in our favor and it turned out to be a sunny, special day back together without screens.

Here’s the strategic planning day we planned during COVID-19:

Stop #1: Breakfast, strategic planning and yoga at Clarkson Park

We scouted out a park with the perfect social distance setting: ample parking spots, lots of picnic tables distanced from one another, a large amphitheater, and tons of grassy space.

Clarkson Park Northfield Picnic Tables

To fuel our morning, we ordered individually packed breakfasts from a Chicagoland staple, Sarkis Café. This restaurant has been an Evanston institution since 1965 with a large multi-generational customer base.

At the park's spacious picnic tables, we enjoyed omelets, hash browns and the famous Loretta breakfast sandwich filled with eggs, grilled veggies, bacon, and melted cheese on a French Bread roll while catching up with one another.

Sarkis Cafe Breakfast Sandwich

After filling up on delicious food, we sat around the wide-open amphitheater to share ideas for new company blog posts. As a strategic planning day, everyone is able to share their area of expertise and learn new ideas from one another.

Northfield Clarkson Park

Carol Neiger NeigerDesign

Here are some of the strategy topics we bonded over throughout the day:

• Seeing Beyond the Surface: 5 Ways Learning to See Beyond Will Make You a Better Designer
SEO Checklist & Beginner's Guide: Demystifying Google Search
• Is It Time for Your Association to Get a Brand Makeover? 
Brand Messaging Strategy: A 4-Step Process to Connect, Engage, and Convert Your Audience
• Why Names Matter
• Anti-racism in a Design Agency

Along with blog post presentations, we completed a Seeing Beyond photo challenge.

At NeigerDesign, we "see beyond the surface" when solving our clients' problems. We think about the idea behind our solutions. We thoroughly research and we dive into client culture, challenges, and opportunities.

To flex our "seeing beyond" muscles during Summer Fun Day, each team member was assigned specific letters of the alphabet to find formed in nature or architecture throughout the afternoon and take a photo for a collaborative collage.

Here are several letters we found during the day, can you guess what they are?


(We will post the full collage here when it's ready!)

After our presentations, we moved to a grassy field for a 45-minute yoga session with Nancy Gerstein. With our mats 6-feet apart, yoga was a fantastic way to relax and reset our minds and bodies.

Motivational Yoga with Nancy Gerstein

It boosted our moods and left us all feeling positive and properly stretched for our next fun activity of the day.

Stop #2: Kayaking at the Skokie Lagoons

Next, we drove to the Skokie Lagoons for a two-hour kayaking trip. The Skokie Lagoons is a group of connected channels and islands and is a top paddling destination in the North Shore of Chicago.

Our tour guides from Northwest Passage explained some of the natural flora and fauna as we glided along the water. We each had our own kayak so it was a fun way to be together and active while staying in our own space.

Skokie Lagoons Kayaks

Skokie Lagoon Kayak Trip Skokie Lagoons Kayaking

Skokie Lagoon Lily Pads

Even our office mascot, Neiger Tiger, enjoyed a dip in the lagoon!

Neiger Tiger Swim 

After we finished kayaking, we were so excited to see La Cocinita’s Food Truck waiting for us at the park across the lagoons.

They are a local Evanston restaurant serving up contemporary Venezuelan-inspired street food. When COVID-19 hit Chicagoland hard, La Cocinita collected donations and fed first responders helping to fight the pandemic.

La Cocinita Food Truck

We set up our own picnic blankets in the park next to the lagoons and ate arepas, empanadas, tacos and churros. We continued our strategy session with the second half of our team presenting their blog posts. Though it had already been an action-packed day, the fun wasn’t over just yet.

La Cocinita Food Truck Arepas

Austin Godwin

Stop #3: Ice Cream Cones at Graeter's

Finally, we drove to Graeter’s Ice Cream shop in Winnetka and ate cones in the park across the street. (Fun fact: The park across from Graeter’s Ice Cream was a filming location in the original Home Alone movie!)

 Graeters Ice Cream

We’re happy to report another successful Summer Fun Day. We faced more obstacles than usual, but we used our creativity to come up with fun plans.

It was wonderful to spend time together again and get out of our home offices. We also had an incredibly productive day as we shared ideas of how to elevate our work and help our clients.

Getting a fresh perspective should never be seen as an unproductive way to spend company time. Everyone needs some inspiration and fun to reset a creative mindset and get back to working virtually. 

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