Just Challenge Offers Meaningful Adventures Money Can't Buy
Instead of splashing out on sponsoring events where champagne flows and big names schmooze, businesses have been reviewing objectives and putting their money to better use. It’s a trend Lucy Bennett-Baggs noticed while working in marketing, sponsorship and events at HSBC, and it’s what led her to set up Just Challenge.
“It was all about how we can nurture employees’ wellbeing, how we can provide experiences that are unique, how we can give back to society,” she says of what she identified companies were starting to look for. “And that’s where I saw the opportunity.”
Through Just Challenge, Bennett-Baggs tailors programmes and challenges for corporate entities that centre around employee engagement, corporate social responsibility, client relationships and leadership development, many of which harness the power of sport and adventure to allow companies to achieve one or more of these aims.
Corporate challenges and more
Bennett-Baggs has seen success first-hand on her corporate challenges, which have included walking part of the Great Wall of China and trekking in the Gobi Desert to raise money for a partner charity. Her programmes frequently involve the dissolution of hierarchy, the learning of valuable lessons and the forming of unlikely bonds. Her challenges bring out the best in people—and, at times, the worst—and, more generally, allow participants to disconnect from the world, reconnect with nature and get outside their comfort zone, often while doing something meaningful.
Her challenges are not only for companies. Each year Just Challenge organises one grand expedition open to 100 members of the public. It’s an opportunity for people to challenge themselves, to go on a once-in-a-lifetime journey and to network with like-minded individuals from leading companies around the world. But, ultimately, such challenges are also about raising money for a good cause, as each participant must commit to fundraising for Just Challenge’s charity partner, Laureus Sport for Good.
Unique life experiences
“People don’t want products, they don’t want material things, they want to pay for experiences, and when you wrap that up with an experience that gives back to society and enables you to meet new people and push yourself out of your comfort zone, to network, build work relationships, I think it’s a really powerful platform to bring people together and to provide a meaningful experience because people raise a lot of money,” says Bennett-Baggs.
Just Challenge’s inaugural public adventure took 100 individuals trekking across the northern Himalayas in early 2018 with Kenton Cool, a mountaineer who has climbed Everest 13 times. It raised US$380,000 for Laureus Sport for Good, a sum that was split across a number of different projects Laureus supports around the world. Laureus is keen to become more involved in helping the Hong Kong community, which Just Challenge will help to facilitate.
“It’s the same message—sport for good,” says Annabelle Bond, who is an ambassador for both Just Challenge and Laureus, of the partnership. “That’s why it works so well. It’s sport for a good purpose—it’s good for your psyche, good for teamwork. Sport changed my life in so many ways, which is why I was so happy to jump on board Just Challenge.”
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In 2005, Bond became the fastest women to climb the Seven Summits—the highest mountain of each of the seven continents—an experience that allowed her to face her fear of heights head-on, one of her adventure’s many benefits. “So many people forget the importance of exercise. I run every day just to clear my head. It releases endorphins that, no matter how stressful your life is, make you go, ‘It’s not that bad after all.’”
Who it's for
Anyone can register for a Just Challenge expedition, but places are limited and there has to be that commitment to raising money. This commitment continues apace in the run-up to the expedition, so much so that past participants have ended up battling among themselves to see who can raise the most money, to great ends for the beneficiaries.
In 2019, Just Challenge will take 100 people to South Africa to trek 100 kilometres of the Drakensberg, the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment enclosing the central Southern African Plateau. “We’ve got representation from pretty much all the major banks, and then loads of other brands, so it’s a really cool mixture of different industries and different seniorities, and we have people in their early 20s through to their early 70s,” says Bennett-Baggs.
“It’s a real mix and that’s what is so unique about the challenges.” There’s also the fact that Just Challenge enlists public figures and sports stars to accompany the participants—both former Ireland professional rugby player Brian O’Driscoll and Bond will join the Drakensberg expedition—and the money raised for Laureus will be distributed between projects in Ireland, Africa and Hong Kong, reflective of the challenge and its participants.
Are you in?
Just Challenge’s public expeditions have already proved popular—Challenge Africa almost filled up overnight—and plans are underway for the organisation’s third public challenge, which Bennett-Baggs reveals will take place in New Zealand in early 2020, with registration opening in early 2019 to give participants plenty of time to train for the adventure and raise funds.
“It takes a certain type of person to sign up to something like this,” says Bennett-Baggs. “Obviously, there’s the physical element—people have to be relatively fit—but a lot of people do it for their own mental challenges and wellbeing. It takes people who want to meet new people and who want to give back to society.”
Just Challenge accepted?
There may be limited spaces available for Challenge Africa in the run-up to the expedition in May 2019. Registration details for Challenge New Zealand will be announced soon at just-challenge.com.
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