Have you ever had a moment that felt serendipitous? The Treasure Hunter was my moment. I’m always on the lookout for cool boxes, puzzles, and generally interesting stuff that would be great for adventures.
One day i stumbled upon a perfect replica of the Declaration of Independence. Now, as you could imagine, National Treasure (that sweet Disney Movie starring Nicholas cage) is one of my favorite movies ever. It’s up there with Fight Club and How to Train Your Dragon. I digress…
I saw it. I knew I’d use it. I bought it.
Two days later, Beth reached out. It was her daughter’s 13th birthday and they wanted to do something special leading up to a surprise birthday party with her family and a few friends.
Key takeaway from the conversation?
Her favorite movie is also National Treasure.
I knew we’d be besties.
1:30 pm - The beginning.
The whole thing began with our target’s friend (unless your target loves going it alone, like “The Professional,” I usually recommend having a friend or family member join the adventure). Our Target thought that she’d be picking up her best friend for a fun day and a sleepover. When she arrived, her friend’s mother handed her a leather-bound journal with pages of clues and riddles, a compass, and a small chest containing a cryptex.
Inside the journal, the adventure was set. There was a great treasure and she had to find it with the help of her best friend, but first she would need to find the key to everything…
2:00 pm - The Declaration
She was instructed to return to her house. In the journal, there were clues to different landmarks in the home. Behind/under each landmark, there was a small scroll bound with twine containing a piece to the next clue.
Our target, who we aptly named “The Treasure Hunter” (we codename all our targets because it’s fun) was informed in the journal she would have to steal the Declaration of Independence. It was pinned to the living room wall, but she still had to hunt for it. (Side note: It’s on my bucket list to create a heist style adventure for someone with actors and props. Understandably we’d need a massive budget. If you want to create this and also have a lot of expendable income, please fill out the form submission at the bottom of the page)
Now that The Treasure Hunter had the map, she just needed a way to read it.
2:30pm - The blacklight
Each of those small scrolls gave our target coordinates and compass directions to a nearby hiking path close to her house. As I said in a previous entry, we like to do baby steps in adventures so people can get their bearings. This was designed to make sure she knew how to follow directions with a compass and she passed with flying colors. At the end of the path, there was a small chest containing a blacklight.
3:00pm - The treasure hunt begins
Once the blacklight shined on the back of the declaration, a whole myriad of information could be seen. At the very top was a riddle, all down the left side was a series of numbers. Covering the back of this sacred document replica were riddles, numbers, and coordinates. It was up to our Treasure Hunter and her friend to use the map and the journal to piece everything together.
3:15pm - The Library
Our target was smart. She was also super sassy (read the testimonial she wrote at the bottom and you can see why), but the smarts are what I’m focusing on. I say this because in the time we had been doing at this, we’d never seen someone figure out everything so quickly. A lot of the people who hire us love to say “oh they’re really smart, give them everything you’ve got” and then we spend the whole day spoon feeding them answers to get to the next location.
Not our Treasure Hunter. She crushed it the entire day.
She saw a library book number on the back of the Declaration and immediately knew where she needed to go. Once the duo arrived, she found the book, a biography on Benjamin Frankin (I had to) and used the journal to learn how to use an Arnold Cypher (In this case, it was page-Line-Letter)
Once deciphered, it read:
“Find the musician at Desert Willow Park”
A quick Google Maps Search and they were off
3:45pm - The park, the minstrel, and the password.
It’s worth noting that they went on this adventure as a family. Our Treasure Hunter and her friend lead the charge, but the parents and younger sibling were there on the adventure too! Once they arrived, they hunted around before stopping on a well dressed man strumming on a guitar sitting beneath a tree.
“Password” He said.
They looked quizzically before remembering a riddle that had been written on the back of the Declaration in blacklight ink. They yelled out the answer (I’m leaving out the riddle and the answer because I like it and I’ll probably use it again).
He handed them the next clue and they were on their way.
4:15pm - The town center.
The minstrel’s clue gave them a location and a starting point and told them to reference the map for the rest. They arrived at Frontier town, started at the gallows and followed the steps using the compass.
Fun side story: Our Treasure Hunter loves food samples. It was so important that it was referenced twice in the form submission I got about her when her mom initially contacted us. I’m talking “stow away on a trip to Costco and binge on samples.” Thats dedication.
Anyway, I wasn’t able to fit any sample related activities into this particular adventure. Hilariously enough, during the compass walk through frontier town, they passed right by a meat stand who was handing out samples.
Later that night when asked if it had been planned, I thought about lying and saying I was just that good.
I’m just that lucky.
4:30pm - The other side of the map.
Inside the envelope were slips of gold vellum paper. Front parts of the declaration were traced and there were small arrows. Once she lined the slips correctly on the Declaration, the arrows pointed to letters. It spelled out “Carefree Church.”
5:00pm - The Church, The wolf, and the riddle.
Our Treasure hunter and her family are very active in the church community. The powers that be allowed us to continue this adventure on their beautiful campus. Once they arrived, they noticed another well dressed man standing in the middle of the field holding a wooden crate. He made them solve this riddle:
“You have a dog, a bunny, and a bundle of carrots. You must get them all across the river safely. Your boat can only fit one thing at a time. If you leave the bunny with the dog, it’ll get eaten. If you leave the carrots alone with the bunny, they’ll get eaten. Get them all safely across.”
Our duo then had to take the respective parts, put them in the crate, and carry them across the field. Like the rest of the adventure, they nailed it. Would you?
With the riddle complete, the were handled an envelope with 5 clues. Each clue linked to a landmark on the church campus. Once they found the landmark, there is an envelope hidden under it. Inside each envelope. A page with a single letter.
Putting the letters together opened the cryptex.
5:45pm - The end
Once she opened up the cryptex. The note inside instructed her to head home and check under her pillow. That envelope under her pillow instructed her to find “Tullum.” This was fun little nickname for a structure in the backyard.
She opened the door, everyone yelled SURPRISE, and the treasure was found!
The real treasure, we told her, was friends and family. Birthday presents and cake are also awesome too.
Testimonial from our treasure hunter
(she thinks she soooooooo funny)
"I do NOT suggest doing a Constructive Adventure. It was horrible. They made my friend and I run back and forth on a field before we could get a crucial clue. Then, I found out later that he had not only been snooping around my house, but he went in my room and under my pillow! He didn't even remake my bed the same way! He then invited himself to my surprise party later. For these reasons, you should not ever hire Constructive Adventures."
- Fiona T. - 13 Treasure Hunter
Now here is her actual testimonial:
"Having my family surprise me with a Constructed Adventure was an amazing experience, and one I would do again in a heartbeat. It was so much fun to run around town searching for clues that led to a surprise party! I, personally, love reading books or watching mysteries and it was very cool to get to solve one myself. I got to bring a friend along, and that made it even more fun. Chris and Jeremiah had such an unbelievable attention to detail with every clue they gave me, and incorporated significant places and people in my life into the adventure. It was challenging but awesome, and the most wonderful birthday present that I will remember forever!!"
- Fiona T. - 13 Treasure Hunter