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Building Employee Camaraderie: Padonia Park Club

April 2013
Ira C. Rigger, Sr., 90, owner of Padonia Park Club, tries out the Zip Line.

Ira C. Rigger, Sr., 90, owner of Padonia Park Club, tries out the Zip Line.

Padonia Park Club is a unique venue that spans 30 acres of beautiful countryside. While used for both indoor and outdoor recreation and events, members and clients love the multi-faceted space used primarily for summer recreation, thinking of it as the perfect “stay-cation.” The buildings and uses have grown and evolved for over 50 years, as the family-owned business has expanded to fill market needs. Known first as a swim club with several pools, they now offer childcare, two seasonal camps, and catering events such as receptions, weddings and business meetings. The most recent addition to their menu is a corporate teambuilding program.

Padonia Park Club started in 1960 as a swim club with the addition of day camp in 1972. As the popularity and need for a recreation center grew, Padonia started offering their recreation respite to groups and corporations, better utilizing the park’s capabilities. In the late 1980s, Padonia used external caterers to come on the campus in order to successfully run corporate picnics. It became obvious within a few years that adding an internal catering aspect to the company would be a sustainable endeavor. In 1993 an indoor ballroom and catering kitchen was added to the amenities offered. This new concept created an additional year round revenue stream, while expanding on the indoor and outdoor events offered, from weddings to picnics.

The next addition was The Padonia Park Child Centers, developed in the space provided in the lower level of the ballroom. In 2008, with the addition of Adventure Camp and the inclusion of a Zip Line and low ropes course, the staff at Padonia found that their efforts had a dual purpose – not only were the older children who attended camp more engaged, but they also were suitably equipped to add another program to their already impressive resume: corporate teambuilding. This evolution of Padonia’s space and programming over the years was an appealing next step.

The corporate teambuilding program offers invaluable benefits for businesses that participate in them. “A business is only as healthy and successful as the people who run it,” says Kathy Angstadt, director of Padonia. “The programs and events we create for our clients provide opportunities for individuals to build camaraderie that oftentimes gets lost in the hustle and bustle of the corporate atmosphere.”

In this different setting, individuals are able to demonstrate their creative thinking abilities and other talents or personality traits that may not be recognized in the workplace and identify natural leadership potential. In addition, it offers professionals the chance to have fun and play. In this kind of social interaction, co-workers can relate to each other as people instead of as a position within a structured company. In addition to having fun, many of the games and activities add a physical component to the team building that promotes not only a healthy spirit but also a healthy body.

When asked about their own internal business health, Angstadt highlights the importance of incorporating personnel within and among the branches of Padonia’s business, including the swim club, Lakeside Day Camp, weddings and special events, supported by catering. This is achieved by overlapping common needs so that the majority of employees have the opportunity to work with their peers in the other branches within the organization. Connectivity and team spirit is paramount as it is important that their own employees feel the desire to work together as opposed to compete against each other.

Working for and within the community is an important part of Padonia’s success. Looking ahead, Padonia will be hosting a kind of “Battle of the Baltimore Stars” involving local television networks and their related radio stations. Media personalities will create teams and compete in various activities and teambuilding events. A donation will be made to a charity of the winning team’s choice. Padonia will also host and cater a fundraiser in May for the Make A Wish Foundation to support their efforts.

Angstadt can see activities such as archery and air riflery added to the outdoor repertoire while continuing to develop group opportunities and keep the space in pristine condition. Padonia’s beauty and country setting gives an air of escape as it is just far enough away from the city to give corporate personnel a chance to leave their professional hats at the office and focus instead on making deeper connections with their 

One of the most valuable aspects of their programming is their capability to customize every experience to a client’s specific needs. “We have a very educated staff, and access to many additional services, to provide a unique experience for a client,” says Angstadt. Creating experiences is one of Angstadt and her staff’s favorite parts of their jobs. “Every day, every event, is unique,” says Angstadt. “From carousels and carnivals, helicopters to go-cart races, crab feasts to corporate teambuilding, Padonia Park Club can accommodate it all.”

Padonia Park Club