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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Boy Scout Escape "Room" Plans

For our Troops lock-in this year, we wanted to do something different.  Escape rooms have been popping up in our area so the idea of making one around Boy Scouts started to form.  For ones who do not know what an escape room is, it is an interactive adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles using clues, hints and strategy to complete the objective of the game within a set time limit.

I spent months planning an escape "room" centered around camping and the Boy Scout Law.  I wanted each Law point to match a puzzle in the game.  I also wanted several points to be easy but most hard enough to take several minutes to work out.  Some puzzles must be solved in order for the next puzzle to start.  But a few puzzles can be worked out on their own which allows for the players to break into different groups in order to solve the complete puzzle.

Below is a step by step instruction on everything you will need, how to set it up and tips I learned while watching the players solve each puzzle.
Before you start the game, you will need to gather several items. Below is a list of all the items I used for our escape room.  If you are a camper, you will most likely already have a lot of these items.  The most challenging part for me was finding boxes with latches that would allow me to lock up.  I ended up using some old boxes I already had and adding latches I purchased from Lowe's. 
The first thing I did when I bought the key locks was to use different color paint to mark the locks and matching keys.  After the paint dried, I covered it with clear nail polish to make sure it wouldn't chip off.   Most locks come with 2 keys, so I took one and put it on a master key ring that I kept with me just in case anything was to happen to the other key and to make it easier to reset the game between teams. 

Combination locks have the numbers on a sticker on the back.  I did not remove these until I had each puzzle worked out and then added the combination on a master list with the scout point that went with that puzzle.  This makes it easier in the long run and saves you time.
After I set up the escape room, I took a picture and then added it to my master notes with the number of what lock it went with.  You will understand this better later on, but for now, I am putting my example here. 

The Story:

The Scoutmaster takes the players on a backpacking trip but has fallen ill and needs the players to call for help.  The emergency cell phone has been safely locked away and the players must find it before the sun sets in one hour. 

You can find these Master Lock Lockout Tagout Hasp on Amazon for around $5 each.

The Rules:

Everything you need to solve the game is within the area.
You are allowed three clues if you get stuck but the group must all agree to use the clues.
Do not use the scissors to cut anything BUT zip ties.
DO NOT EAT anything.

The Game:

Place The Scout Law Poster out in the open.  If the scouts are pretty smart, they will figure out that there is 12 locks on the main box for the 12 Scout Law points.  Each key/combo follows the Scout Law and can be found on an item that goes along with each point.  When they find the key/combo, there will be a description of what the point means.  You will use that description to look at the Scout Law poster to find what picture is beside it.  There will be a lock with that picture on it attached to the main box.

With each key/combination, there will be one of the points of the Scout Law.  The player will use this point (ex. Loyal) to see what picture is listed beside it.  Once you have that picture (dogs print), you find the lock with the same picture. Once the player figures this code out, it will save time figuring out which lock goes with what clue.

Have a notebook and pens laying around for the players to use as they work out each puzzle.

The Scout Law Poster

(1) Trustworthy

To start the game, a small diary key is hidden on the end of a fishing pole.  The diary was hidden inside the tent under the sleeping bag.  Once it is opened, you will find a secret decoder.  I printed this free secret decoder from dabbles and babbles to use.  I had to change the numbers to match with the letters (L-A-W) that I needed for the combination lock.  To keep the paper from ripping, I used box tape to cover both sides.  I cut out a prong in an old folder that I had to use as the spinner.
The diary will also have a Morse Code Cipher (which you can find doing any internet search).  This is a needed clue for (3) HELPFUL.    

It took the players a long time to figure out that there was a Scout Point found on an object that held the key and that they could use The Scout Law sheet to figure out which lock to open by matching the point with the picture. 

Also my test run found that the L-A-W code was overlooked until almost the end of the game.  Most thought that the decoder went with the morse code.  I ended up highlighting the missing numbers under L-A-W on the poster but the players still had issues figuring it out and wanted to use the numbers under T-H-E. 

(2) Loyal

What is more loyal then mans best friend?  I attached the three number combo to the back side of a dog collar and place it around a stuffed animal.  
I also hung a key from the dogs collar which will be needed to open a box for (8) CHEERFUL

Once the players found the key, they did not look any further and this combination was overlooked until later in the game.

(3) Helpful

The diary found in (1) TRUSTWORTHY will also have the morse codes the players will need for this clue.  The players must first find a key hidden in the wallet (also needed for (9) THRIFTY) inside a jacket.  This key will open a locked box which the players will find a recorder and locked scissors (needed for (4) FRIENDLY and (6) KIND). 
They will also need to find two batteries (hidden inside a cup and empty mini M&M tube).  They can now listen to a prerecorded morse code message which they will need to use to figure out the next combination.  
This is where the blank notebook and pens comes in handy. I used a free app to record the morse code and have it repeated five times on the tape.  Between each break I would say "repeat again" and after five times I said "rewind if needed".   

This clue took the players a lot of time to figure out.  After a trial run, it was decided that adding a hint to let the players know they may want to listen to the full message, while writing down the code, and go back to figure out the numbers after.  I added this hint on a piece of paper and wrapped it around the recorder.

This was also the most entertaining as some teenagers do not know how to work an old school tape player.  "How does this thing work?"  "How do you get it to reset?"  This will have me laughing for many years.

(4) Friendly

The players must first work out the puzzle on the maze box to get to the key inside.  I found this cool maze box around Christmas time for $5.  If you can not find this type of box for cheap, you can always just hide the key somewhere else in the camp.  Buy the forth game, the maze box was broke so we ended up just hiding the key in the fake fire pit.
The key will unlock the scissors which was found in the same box as the recorder in (3) HELPFUL.  Use the scissors to cut the zip tie on the double zip bag that will hide the dominoes pieces.  I found three double zip bags in the travel section of the local store for around $9.  I also had an old doublemint gum tin that I used to hold all the dominoes game pieces which I found at the Dollar Store for $1.
The players will need to sort through all the dominoes pieces to find the ones marked with 1-2-3 on the back.  The 1-2-3 will tell them what order to use the numbers in and the dots will tell you what the number is.  (ex. my combination is 32-4-26 so I used the dominoes in the picture below.)
Leave the loop big enough to allow the scissors in to cut.

Players also had a hard time figuring this one out.  They wanted to add or times the dots instead of just reading it as 32-4-26. 

(5) Courteous

Some of the puzzles are pretty easy.  I used a command wall hook and attached the key to the inside of a tissue box.  I then filled the box with tissues to hide it.

(6) Kind

The players must use the scissors to cut the zip ties off of the first aid kit found hidden inside the backpack.  Inside they will find a key mixed in with Band-Aids.
The players will also find a Boy Scout Board Game which I printed from while searching the internet.  This will be needed for (12) REVERENT

(7) Obedient

This clue is so simple, yet took the players forever to figure out!  I used an old Scouting magazine and just circled the page numbers to match the combination lock. 


(8) Cheerful

The players must first use the key hidden on the dog collar to open a box hidden inside the backpack.  Once open, they will find a large dice with smiling and sad faces.  On the back side of the smiling faces, the players will find the combination numbers.  On the other side, the noses are marked 1-2-3 which shows the order the numbers should be in.  I used box tape on both sides of the faces so it would not tear.  I then used double stick tape to attach the faces to the cube.  This allows for easy removing.  DO NOT use glue dots because they will not let you remove the picture.  
I found the dice at the Dollar Store for $1.  I had the old wooden box from taking my kiddo to Lowe's many years ago.  I found the latches at Lowes for a few dollars as well.   

(9) Thrifty

The players must find a wallet hidden inside a jacket.  Inside the wallet is fake money with flag signals.  Three of the bills will be marked in order of the combo (1-2-3) and the players must use the flag cipher (hidden inside a cooler) to figure out the numbers. 
I found both the flag signals and money template by doing an internet search and combined them to match the combination I needed.  I tossed in a few others with no numbers on them to mix the game up some.

(10) Brave

The players must first find the tub of worms hidden inside the cooler.  They then must dig inside the worms to find the hidden key.  A few wanted to dump the worms on the floor but I would not allow that.  I did, however, let them use the table.

I found the tin after valentines day marked down pretty cheap and grabbed a few bags of $1 gummy worms.  Make sure to write DO NOT EAT on the tin and watch to make sure nobody does since many hands will be digging around in these worms.

(11) Clean

The players will find this key pretty easy if they care to search.  It is hidden inside a roll of paper towels and the player will just need to unroll the paper to find it.  To make sure that the paper towels did not break apart, I used box tape on the seams for extra protection. 

(12) Reverent

For the final combo, the players must complete several steps.  They first need to use the Boy Scout Board Game piece found in the First Aid Kit to open the combination lock on the toolbox. 

I marked the three numbers on the Board Game to match the combination lock and then covered the paper with box tape on both sides so it would not tear. 

Inside the toolbox, the player will find a screwdriver.  They will then use the screwdriver to unscrew the screws hiding the Forty Knots sign with coded numbers on it.  

The players will also need to locate a Knot Display which will show several different types of knots.  Three of these knots will be marked with 1-2-3.  Players will need to match the knots from the Forty Knots sign and the Knot Display in order to find the last combination.
Example:  If the combination lock is 38-19-5 then...
the Knot Display would show...(1) Taut-line - (2) Square Knot - (3) Bowline

 and the Forty Knots would be (38) Taut-line - (19) Square Knot - (5) Bowline  

Game over!  Inside the chest the players will find the cell phone and treasures.  In our case, the treasure was boy scout patches donated from our local Boy Scout Shop. 

All our scouts/adults were able to figure out the puzzles with one only minutes left.  I used the below checklist to mark off each clue found and hints used for each team.  It came in handy having the combinations and key color on one pages for when they asked for a clue. 

This was such a fun project and I hope you have as much fun as we did in your own Boy Scout Escape Room!