‘On track’ for a productive meeting

Hosting a corporate retreat on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Guest blogger: Lindsay Ridinger, Summit Education Initiative

You may have heard a change of scenery may help clear your mind, spark ideas and/or boost creativity. Maybe your favorite mellow tunes, desk chair yoga or sweet, salty snacks do the trick, too.

Because it seems more often than not we have these gray skies, snow mounds and slushy streets at which to look outside our windows, a change of scenery is welcome. Lucky for us, those living in Northeast Ohio do have many unique sceneries to enjoy all times of the year, no matter the weather forecast. And we have many means for exploring such places, too.

Last summer, our staff at Summit Education Initiative (SEI), a nonprofit organization working to increase personal and regional prosperity by ensuring every student in Summit County graduates with a clear career pathway, explored one of our region’s attractions – the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) – together.

Our private train car itself was a comfortable, cozy backdrop and space for our planning retreat, let alone the beautiful river and leafy green trees whizzing past us outside the windows.

On that Tuesday, July 31, 2018, we hopped on the Saint Lucie Sound lounge car with notebooks, pens, Post-It Notes, boxed lunches, water bottles and plenty of snacks (of course those helped us brainstorm, too!).

A friendly staff member greeted us once we all took our seats around a large conference room-style table inside the Saint Lucie. He reviewed a few housekeeping items before explaining the history of our train car, which led the fleet during the first half of our round-trip excursion from downtown Akron’s Northside District.

We appreciated learning more about the Saint Lucie Sound, which the Budd Company built in 1946. Florida East Coast Railroad was the original owner of the train car, but in 1986 they sold it to Canadian Tower Limited, which refurbished the Saint Lucie.  In 1995, CVSR acquired the car from the Haslinger family, and by 2014, they obtained funds to renovate and restore the car’s interior to its original appearance.

Admiring Saint Lucie’s 40s-50s lounge appearance, including its original hand-etched glass dividers and display cases, made us feel as though we stepped back in time. But the concept of spending a retreat on a train simultaneously felt new and exciting. SEI’s staff were not only grateful to have this opportunity so close to our office in Quaker Square, but we were also very grateful to experience this Tuesday afternoon train ride as a team.

If you are interested in booking the Saint Lucie Sound lounge car for your team’s next meeting – or another event – you must contact CVSR at least six weeks in advance. The CVSR website lists more details about booking private car rentals.