This is an acronym that we love at Grand Dynamics International. It was first coined by the great Karl Rohnke, and it stands for exactly what it appears to – Functional Understanding Not Necessary. Karl Rohnke, for those who don’t know, is the man who pretty much invented the field of Experiential Education, and was one of the founding fathers of both Project Adventure and High Five Adventure. He’s also written enough books on the topic to fill an entire library.
Karl’s best friend just happens to be Adrian Kissler, who runs On Course, Inc., a ropes course that is less than an hour away from the GDI Western States office. Adrian just happens to also be longtime friends with Holly Baade, GDI’s Creative Director. And he and Karl just happen to run a week-long workshop of training, adventure, and yes, FUNN, at On Course every year for a week in August.
And that is how I, Stephanie Sibille, got to spend a week hanging out with Karl Rohnke and Adrian Kissler.
The event, known as The Centurion, is sort of an underground event that people travel far and wide to attend, but due to the intimate, familial nature, I hadn’t heard about it before I moved to California. All I knew was that there would be climbing, there would be a food fight, there would be an opportunity to jump into a bucket of ice water, and there would be Karl and Adrian. According to Tim and Holly, it was absolutely IMPERATIVE that I attend. Okay!
One of the things that makes GDI so unique is the company’s consistent desire and vision to surround ourselves with experts in various industries. We recognize that our great work is a result of these peoples’ pioneering efforts – and no single person is more representative of Experiential Training and Development than Karl Rohnke. I knew that I would be in great company.
That being said, I wasn’t so sure about the food fight.
So I arrived on the first morning fully outfitted for our opening event, the F(itness)A(nd)T(ouch) Decathlon. I didn’t know what, exactly, this entailed, but I had packed, among other things, clothing for four seasons (who knows what summer in the Sierras will bring?), swimming goggles, and a racing bike that was probably worth more than my car. Well, twenty minutes later I was bike sprinting up a massive hill, and an hour later I was hitting marshmallows across a field with a badminton racket. And so began The Centurion.
It’s a week, and an event, that is nearly impossible to encapsulate into a single blog post. Our “schedule” was a blank white board, and much of our day consisted of playing and co-creating new games on the ranch. Here is what I can summarize: We jumped into buckets of ice water, raced up the 81 stair steps at On Course, climbed trees 100 feet in the air, and fed our blindfolded partners lunch one day – by hand. Why? Because we could.
The culminating event, the “Cobb War” (basically a giant food fight) was preceded with an arts and crafts session where our hands were the paintbrushes and our bodies were the canvases. Here is the final result:
But the true highlight was sitting and listening to Karl’s insights. No one has been facilitating groups as long as he has, and the chaos and silliness of the week were held together by his veil of wisdom. He never spoke directly of his expertise, but the insightful gems always came out when the time was right. It was like being in the presence of a sage. A sage who happened to enjoy spraying tempura paint on his colleagues.
I left inspired by the droplets from Karl’s infinite pool of wisdom, and inspired to have a little more FUNN. I’ve even recreated a taste of his advice here:
Enjoy, and thank you, Karl and Adrian, for an amazing week!
GDI Program Specialist