Hello from the Cluego team, this is our first blog post and the start of many more!
This week we look at a few tips from Jim Maynard our Operations Manager and overall treasure hunt guru on how to plan your own treasure hunt. Jim also talks about his recent trip to the picturesque town of Stamford where he wrote a bespoke event for one of our clients this month.
Our future blog posts will be a mixture of experiences from our team at various locations providing valuable information on the area as well as lots of other interesting articles.
We hope you enjoy our blog and the first article from Jim.
The art of writing treasure hunts
I’ve written over 50 treasure hunts from back in the old days when they were printed on paper to the more modern present day tablet versions. However the basic format remains the same. We generate location specific questions that spread across the town and then map them, add challenges to enhance the fun and program our app for your event.
The main difference with our modern day questions is that they are a driver with a purpose to keep the teams moving around the location as they are only activated through GPS positioning. Long gone are the days of sitting in a pub and asking the locals for the answers from a paper based hunt!
Questions are written about the history and the fabric of the town. In the old days I would include questions about who runs what pub or what type of food restaurants sell, but the problems with that is
- It’s not very interesting
- Things change and by the time you have to deliver the package the answers will have gone.
I joke that these days I only write stuff that’s cast in stone. In other words, Plaques on walls, Memorials, landmarks, information boards etc.
Recently I was asked to write a Treasure Hunt in Stamford Lincs. Stamford is a market town that was at one time one of the 10th biggest towns in the country. It was a major trading point with wool being its main commodity the wool products would be taken to the east coast for export.
Stamford sits on the Great North Road and was a coaching point for travelers and pilgrims travelling between London and York. It wasn’t all travelers and traders that used the Great North Road though, The Highwayman Dick Turpin passed through Stamford as he fled through to York on his horse Black Bess reputedly in just 15 hours.
Stamford is a great example of a rich town, its history is well recorded back for over 800 years.
Writing begins in the office with a quick look around on Google and Wikipedia can list a lot of go to destinations not always found at street level. In Stamford the Grave of Daniel Lambert lies in St. Martins Church. Daniel held the world record for being the fattest man event for many years. He died age 39 at an estimated 53 Stone!
The area of the treasure hunt needs to be identified, too large and the people will be exhausted too small and it’s all over in a flash.
Once the research is done its time for the real groundwork. One of the great joys of writing a treasure hunt is that you really get to learn about a place. Whenever I travel with friends and colleagues all over the UK I’m constantly boring people with bits of memorised trivia such as who lived here and what that spire was built for.
Occasionally questions seen to come back and haunt you. For example many years ago I wrote part of a Land Rover treasure hunt in Grantham. At the Crossroads is a replica of The Eleanor Cross originally placed there by Kind Edward I. Eleanor had died while in Lincoln and as her body was returned to London. The King ordered a monument be erected at the town cross of each of the town were the body was rested. Since then I have included this story in Dunstable, St Albans and Northampton and Charring Cross, each having its own Eleanor Cross.
Searching for information and being creative
Information is easy to find as long as you know how to look for it.
The first thing I do is look up. Shop fronts come and go but once you get over the level of the door you will find all kinds of information.
Taking photos is also a very useful way of gathering information quickly. I used to create my question on the hoof, however with the ease of digital technology I can map and photograph all my questions and then write up when I get back in the office.
Questions need to be slightly cryptic, answering straight up questions isn’t very entertaining. So instead of writing the following –
What year was the Odd Fellows hall built?
Since when have Strange chaps been around here?
So once you’ve got your questions sorted it’s time to add something that will add a bit of difference to the scores. I use challenges and scavenger items. I try to leave everything open to interpretation that way I can set a challenge that each team can answer in a slightly different way. Photo and video challenges are very popular. Examples let “Get a picture of the team in the palm of your hand” creates lots of different results.
The scavenger list includes all kinds of collectables, Purest Green, yesterdays news, holy smoke. Again, I try to leave them open to interpretation!
Cluego treasure hunts are scored in real time via our software however scavenger items can be added at the end and this can allow the event organiser a chance to add more competition and a hidden scoring element.
Go down the list of items one at a time and ask the teams to hold each item up for all to see. Once all the teams have been scored its time to announce the awards and finish your event off on a high!
That’s it for this week folks however I will be back with more of my experiences over the next few weeks so please do keep dropping by and leave a comment below if you have any questions!