TREASURE HUNTING 101:
What is an urban treasure hunt?
Playing one of our public events
Our treasure hunts are information-based scavenger hunts, or puzzle hunts, in which teams use their collective brainpower to solve clues. Each team is presented with a group of puzzles, or clues, which teams must solve in order to find a piece of information.
Each clue leads to a location within walking distance, where players must find and use a vital piece of information to answer a question. This information could be words from a historical plaque, a series of numbers or an address, a landmark, or any other unique item that many of us walking down the street might merely pass by, unless we were looking for it.
Teams travel through the streets of the playing area racing to see who will be first to find all of the information. After solving all the clues teams will return their answer sheets to the designated endpoint. The earliest entry with the most correct answers wins. Pub Hunts last about an hour. Larger Public Hunts can last up to three hours.
Each player will receive an identical set of clues and a map, and with their team will solve clues involving wordplay, trivia, puzzles, anagrams, math, and other fun challenges. Because there are a variety of challenges, and everyone thinks differently, the treasure hunt can be an excellent team building activity. Working together and discussing each clue will enable teams to more effectively solve them. Many clues contain wordplay that can have multiple meanings, and interpreting them quickly can lead to mistakes. Collaboration is vital for the team’s success. Teams work best when everyone is involved in the decision-making and each person is able to participate. Part of the experience is learning about your team members, and the surprising things each of us learns about ourselves – perhaps the true treasure we take away from the hunt.
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So, you’re on the treasure hunt; how do you go about solving clues?
The first part of a clue puzzle generally refers to a location. This could be a street, a business, a landmark, etc. Because of this, not everything on the clue sheet will be immediately obvious or make sense until your team arrives at the clue location. The second part of the clue asks for a specific piece of information located at that particular site, or may lead you to another location where you’ll gather that information.
Your best tool will be your map, but feel free to utilize all resources that are independent of the hunt. While you cannot phone someone at home to do on-line research for you, (teams must be physically together at all times) you certainly can consult people on the street, ask vendors for information, check a telephone book, or dictionary, or even go to a bookstore to assist you!
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Treasure hunts and scavenger hunts are fun exercises in working with others and being aware of your environment. We learn new things about our friends, knowledge that we weren’t certain we still recalled, historical information about the city, businesses we didn’t know existed, and so much more. The hunt challenges your ability to see and notice things that we all might normally just overlook in our busy lives. Take time to appreciate some of these things that are hidden in plain sight.
Your team will not be asked to do anything illegal, or enter areas that are not accessible to the public. Please do not do any of these things on your own. Please obey all traffic and other laws.
You are asked to be respectful of all other participants in the treasure hunt and to be courteous to the residents of the playing area.
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What to Bring to a Public Hunt
Your sense of adventure and an open mind!
Comfortable footwear – there will be plenty of walking involved
Writing tool – a pen pencil to mark your score sheets
Weather-appropriate clothing – public hunts run rain or shine
Highlighter – for marking your map
Water & Snacks
Flashlight – for evening hunts
Internet enabled phone or mobile device
Zip lock plastic bag or other waterproof covering to shield clues/map if raining
Mastermind Treasure hunts provides all participants a set of clues and a map. Knowledge of the playing area could be helpful, but not necessary. Your ability to work together is more important.
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The rules for a treasure hunt are designed to make it a fair and fun experience for everyone. Teams are out in a public setting and must really police themselves to ensure that everyone complies with the rules.
Do not open and view the clues prior to the announcement that the hunt has started. Soon after the scheduled start time the hunt will begin. Then and only then should you open you clue packets and view the clues.
Teams must travel on foot. With the exception of those who have a physical limitation and require assisted transport to get around (wheelchairs, etc.), teams cannot use cars, trucks, taxis, buses, bicycles or any other motorized or wheeled transport.
Teams must stay together. Teams must be at the same clue site at the same time, and you must stay within sight and earshot of each other. Team members should not use cell phones to communicate, unless you’ve become separated for some reason. Members should not run ahead of the others to solve clues. If someone gets separated from the team, has to leave early, or to stop for health reasons, that person can rejoin you later, but cannot participate by working on clues while they are away from the rest of the team.
Teams are free to utilize resources which exist independently of the treasure hunt. Provided those resources don’t violate any of the other rules, teams are encouraged to use bookstores, libraries, shop vendors, (town historians, if you can find them) to assist with clues. It improves the overall experience to interact with different people along the way.
Teams may use smartphones or mobile internet devices. While we can't keep you from using the internet, we ask that you please use it responsibly (i.e., not as a way to get a final answer to a clue without actually visiting the clue location). If the above confuses you in any way, here are a couple of guidelines:
• If anything makes you think, "Is this cheating?", it probably is. Don't do it.
• If anything makes you think, "Is this a really clever loophole?", it's probably cheating. Don't do it.
Do not move, tamper with, destroy, or otherwise alter the answers at the clue locations.
Do not guess. You must have visited the clue sites during the hunt in order to correctly answer the question. It is generally not possible to get the correct answer without having physically visited the clue locations.
Answers on the score sheet should be legible and exact. In order to receive credit for a correct answer we must be able to read your answer and it should be the only answer for that clue. There are no partially correct answers, and no extra points will be offered.
All team members must be present when turning in your score sheets. Excepting if a team member has had to leave early, all members should be present when you submit your answers.
If it is discovered that cheating has taken place, sanctions will be imposed or a team could be disqualified.
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