Outdoor adventure competition has $10,000 to give away, but needs staff
160 Steeprock Drive, Toronto, M3J 2T4
Events and marketing
Event and marketing development, management and consulting
Part survivor-style elimination competition and part adult summer camp, participants of the inaugural Element Games this summer will climb through a ropes course, sift through sand, race through water and solve puzzles for their chance to collect the $10,000 grand prize.
It’s organizer, Josh Howard, is no stranger to event planning. The founder of Knactivate — a Toronto-based event and marketing development, management and consulting company — has already helped organize a number of unique charity events, including the Intercamp Classic, Compete for the Cure, Swing Fore the Answers and Project Art.
The Element Games, which is the first project to be conceived in-house at Knactivate, will take place over three days in late August at the Tamarack Adventure Centre in Bracebridge. While its initial iteration won’t include a charity component, he hopes it grows big enough to incorporate a fundraising element in the future.
But finding employees with a wide enough skill range to orchestrate such a massive and unique event is proving to be a challenge, especially as a young company on a limited budget. With the summer fast approaching Howard needs to find staff to help boost sales as well as contribute to event programming, but with limited funds he can’t afford to hire for two positions, nor a single person qualified enough to handle both responsibilities.
“I really want someone who can wear many hats and has experience, but that person is really expensive, so what do you do?” asks Howard.
The Element Games themselves are mostly planned out already; Howard just needs to find an affordable employee who can help bring it to life.
At the start of the event participants will be broken off into groups of 18 to compete on land, water and climbing ropes in challenges that test their intellect as much as their physical endurance.
Losing teams will be forced to vote off a player until the remaining few are merged into a single unit to compete in individual challenges. During the closing ceremonies on the final evening those who have been voted out will get their chance at redemption, as they ultimately choose who takes home the third place prize of $1,000, the runner up prize of $3,500, and the $10,000 grand prize.
The weekend has much more to offer besides the competition, adds Howard, which is especially good news for those who get voted out early. Participants are welcome to enjoy some of the Tamarack Adventure Centre’s amenities, such as the rock climbing wall, beachfront, kayaks and canoes, basketball and tennis courts, or pay a little extra for watersports like waterskiing and Flyboarding.
“Probably the biggest thing that I think people will be doing when they get voted out is follow around the game,” said Howard. “You’ve got a front row ticket to watch this whole thing unfold.”
Admission fees to the Adventure Games range from $319 to $279 per person, depending on the size of the group, with a $249 option for those who wish to attend without competing. Tickets also include food for the weekend and accommodations — either a cabin bunk or grounds to set up a tent — as well as opening and closing ceremonies and a party on the Saturday night featuring a live band and DJ.
While Knactivate has earned enough revenue to get the event off the ground, the year and a half old company is too young to support a major staffing effort for the inaugural Element Games.
Howard’s two permanent staff members are already stretched pretty thin launching the event, but without more help in sales, marketing, and overall planning and coordination in the next few weeks, the grandiose adventure weekend might not advance past the planning stages.
“In a startup you want people who have the biggest variety of skills so you may have them do something on one day but you want them to be able to do something else the next day,” he said. “Everybody wants the most talented people, but unfortunately those people demand the most amount of money.”
According to Laura Machan, a partner of recruitment solutions with Knightsbridge Human Capital, it’s not uncommon for small businesses to require staff that can take on multiple roles.
“You need to find the people who have the capacity to grow with the role,” she says. “That’s a tough one to identify in potential candidates.”
Machan recommends that small business employers focus on applicants’ experience and hobbies to find skills that go beyond their previous job titles. Furthermore, she says that providing the opportunity to work on a unique initiative like the Element Games could be used as an incentive for potential hires.
For his part Howard has utilized recruiting resources ranging from social media to Youth Employment Services to university job postings, but continues to attract candidates that are under qualified or too expensive.
One perk that will help his recruiting efforts is that while resources are slim for the inaugural Element Games, there is potential for continued growth, which Howard has seen in his other annual charity events that continue to get bigger every year.
“We’re proving a concept right now, and we’re excited to get it off the ground,” says Howard. “If it works in one place, we believe it can work anywhere.”