Written by Nicole Bulcher
After shooting the squad photo we dove right into regular nightly practices held either at Valley Ranch or Cowboys Stadium. However, the first weekend after our squad photo, we all took a little team-building hiatus at the Gaylord Texan.
Although this bonding time is called "campout," there is no actual camping involved anymore. Judy and Kelli shared with us that it used to be roughing it with no makeup or electricity, but it has warped into yet another fabulous event during which we get spoiled.
We arrived at the Gaylord on Saturday afternoon and upon finding our rooms, encountered our first surprise: Our new cameo shots, or "dancing girls" photos that are made into postcards, were taped on the outside of our doors. Everyone, veterans included, get excited to see these. We are not privy to which photo they'll use and rarely do we see any of the shots taken on cameo day until it is printed or published somewhere. We quickly introduced the rookies to another tradition and had them take part in the trading of dancing girls … because of course we all needed one from every member of the team for our scrapbooks.
After this, we all met downstairs to kick off the campout with Joel, who is a motivational speaker. He does team-building activities with huge corporations worldwide, but swears he has the most fun with us. His methods involve impromptu comedy within small teams to get us out of our comfort zones. Before long, we were crying from laughing so hard.
The best moment, however, came from the game where three people sit in a row of chairs and each person can only say one word of the answer. The three were Kelli, Judy and Katelyn (she's part of our rockin' office staff who planned the weekend of shenanigans). So in the game, it takes the collective to answer a question. Leave it to Sunni to ask them to "Please sing the National Anthem." The tables were turned!!! We were dying! They agreed it was much different being put on the spot with that kind of question, and I think they may have developed a little more sympathy for those who know, but struggle with the National Anthem question during panel interviews.
We moved from team building to appetizers and a light dinner on the back deck of the Glass Cactus at sunset. The next surprise came when our security friend Phil (from the stadium) showed up rolling in yet another big, covered board. We thought auditions were over. We all gathered around and he revealed the huge squad photo. Screams peppered with ooooo's and aaaahhh's echoed off Lake Grapevine.
The remainder of the night was spent dancing away every calorie consumed at dinner. The live band was great and before long, the entire Glass Cactus was packed. Sporadic and awkward group dancing broke out more than once, and even our CMT crew dropped it like it was hot!
Following our night of festivities was a breakfast the next morning with more games. A final team-building activity was led by rookie Mackenzie, who has plenty of experience with groups of women since her last job was as a traveling chapter advisor for her sorority.
Wrapping up our wonderful weekend at the Gaylord was a trip to their brand new water park where we sipped tea, floated in the lazy river, shot down the huge water slide, suntanned in the super-comfortable lounge chairs, and chatted about the upcoming season under the private huts they had reserved for us.
All of our hard work is definitely rewarded and recognized when we get the chance to have weekends like this!