Late at night in a parking lot somewhere in middle America, a group of men and women file silently to a waiting van. They are in full camouflage, with branches woven into their hair and special makeup to render them almost invisible in the darkness. They are on a covert mission: They are going on (gasp) an incentive trip!

That's an exaggeration, of course. They probably don't need the makeup. But thanks to several high-profile luxury outings taken by companies receiving bailout money, incentives have gone incognito. So maybe we should explore ways to have some under-the-radar fun.

Scavenger Hunt

Under the guise of a low-budget scavenger hunt, lucky participants can duck behind rocks, trees, and shrubbery to scarf down snacks and take a swig from a Gatorade bottle full of an amusing, yet sassy Chateau Margaux. As long as the contestants emerge with typical scavenger hunt items, like a moldy baseball cap or a deflated Smokey the Bear balloon, no one in the circling T.A.R.P. surveillance helicopters will be any the wiser.

Creative Construction

With a little imagination, even projects that benefit a community can become an occasion for some forbidden fun. Why not have a large “tool shed,” where attendees can slip away in small groups to go sharpen their chisels or some such carpenter-type activity? Inside the shed there could be a mini spa, with therapeutic massages, facials, and an array of tasty treats tucked behind shelves lined with woodworking paraphernalia. Before emerging from the shed, make sure to spritz everyone with a pleasantly scented bottle of fake sweat. This will quell the suspicions of the T.A.R.P. patrols that surreptitiously scope out the CSR scene.

Festive Spelunking

This cave exploring junket begins with everyone arrayed in official-looking National Geographic duds, while a rented professor lectures about stalactites, geodes, and other geological terminology. This not only distracts the T.A.R.P. snoops, it also might make some of them nod off.

Then everyone can switch on their hardhat lamps, file inside, and get the party started! In the eerie glow of the cave (with black-light special effects), a D.J. dressed like a bat will spin some tunes while everyone dances and noshes on a buffet of underground delights. When the party winds down, a quick smear of pâté on the cheeks can simulate cave dirt as the attendees emerge, grimy but educated, from the subterranean shindig.

These are only a few ideas of how to have some furtive fun until everyone comes to their senses and realizes that corporate events aren't always a taxpayer rip-off. With a little creativity, event planners everywhere can ignore T.A.R.P. and focus on a more appealing idea: P.A.R.T. Y.

When he's not writing humor columns, Mike Donlin writes technical and marketing articles, presentations, and press releases for the electronics industry. He is based in Hudson, N.H., and can be reached at mikedonlin@comcast.net.