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How to Build Group Spirit: Try Skydiving

Emerson staffers try skydiving as a team-building exercise.

Seven members of the Emerson College Police Department, Facilities Management staff, and Securitas took a trip last week to Jumptown in Orange, Massachusetts, for the ultimate team bonding exercise: going skydiving for the first time.

The trip was organized by Lieutenant Robert Bousquet as the first team-building activity involving these three departments, which work together on the Emerson campus.

Robert Cofield and Grace Howard after their jump

Robert Cofield, of Securitas, and Grace Howard, of the Emerson College Police Department, celebrate their skydiving jumps.

The group boarded a plane and reached 13,000 feet in the air before jumping—strapped to their instructors, of course. They each spent about 55 seconds free-falling, and once they released their parachutes, spent six to eight minutes floating back to Earth. 

Lieutenant Robert Cofield, assistant manager of Securitas for 18 years, said that despite his initial fears, he is glad he went on the trip.

“I was a little nervous at first,” he said. “But once I got out there and jumped, it was like freedom. And when I got down to the ground, I couldn’t explain it. I just turned around and gave [the instructor] a hug.”

Emerson staff try skydiving

Emerson staff from three areas of the College bonded during a skydiving exercise. They are: (front) Robert Cofield; (rear, from left) Ida Candreva, Harold Follins, Grace Howard, Bill Driscoll, and Robert Bousquet.

Initially, some jumpers had reservations. When Sergeant Ida Candreva first heard that Bousquet was organizing the trip, she knew skydiving was on her bucket list. But despite the uncertainty that came with a significant fear of heights, Candreva said that her colleagues’ excitement eventually persuaded her to go for it.                                                                                     

“Honestly, it was Dispatcher Grace Howard,” she said. “Her excitement for wanting to go got me more excited about it. I said, ‘Screw my fear; I’ll do it.’”

Dispatcher Howard described the sensation of falling through the air at more than 120 miles per hour as “surreal,” although in the moment, she said that she was more focused on how beautiful the view was on such a bright, clear day.

Emerson staffer during a sky dive.

Emerson dispatcher Grace Howard with her trainer in mid-flight.

“It’s really hard to describe to someone who has never been skydiving before,” she said. “Once I hit the ground, I had no words to describe this experience.”

Howard said she would definitely go skydiving again, and even said she could imagine skydiving becoming a hobby of hers. Candreva and Cofield were not as eager to jump out of more planes, but everyone agreed that they would urge anyone with an interest in skydiving to try it.

“It was a good bonding experience, and it was a good experience overall,” Candreva said. “It’s worth doing. If you have even a little bit of fear, that’s okay. That just means you’re normal. But if it’s on your bucket list, you should do it.”

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