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Escape Room

Escape rooms are all the rage right now! For the uninitiated, an escape room is a themed room in which teams have exactly one hour in which they must work collaboratively to solve puzzles and riddles that will ultimately lead to their escape out of a locked room. What youth pastor doesn’t want to lock all their kids in a room for an hour?! (just kidding, of course) There are a plethora of companies that professionally design these rooms to be deceptively difficult to escape. However, if you’ve ever looked into booking one for your group, you will know that they can be a tad expensive. But don’t let price keep your youth group from enjoying an escape room; you can build your own!

I’m going to warn you right away, that this activity takes a lot of planning, creativity, and ingenuity to pull it off. But believe me, if you are committed to making your own escape room as great as you possibly can, I guarantee it will become one of your youth group’s favorite activities and will have them talking about it for years to come!

First of all, there is no one way to build your own escape room. Think of it as a blank canvass in which you can paint whatever you want. But to help get the creative juices flowing, here are some ideas.

1. Choose a theme.

A good escape room always has a theme. Will your team be escaping from an Indiana Jones’ style “Temple of Doom” complete with traps? Or will they be a group of cat burglars looking to steal a precious artifact from a museum? Maybe your team could be searching for a pirate’s lost treasure. Our escape room was themed after “The Twilight Zone”. It helped that our escape room took place the night of Friday the 13th! Decorate the room according to your theme. Our church is blessed to have a historic hotel building with eerie abandoned rooms complete with a basement. Make sure to write a good story to go along with your escape room and read it to your youth group. For a more spiritual emphasis, make a Bible themed escape room! Maybe your team needs to escape Jericho (via a scarlet cord) or they need to escape the Roman prison to deliver the gospel to the world!

2. The Room.

Pick a suitable room that is big enough for your youth group. Make sure that it is well furnished so you can hide all sorts of puzzles and clues. If you don’t have a lot of furnishings to work with, fill the room with boxes or drawers that can be locked. Perhaps the team could escape one room only to make their way into another locked room! If there’s not a lock on the door, no worries! Put a padlock on the door handle and even though the team isn’t technically locked in, they will know that they need to unlock the padlock before leaving the room.

3. Plenty of Puzzles.

The idea of the escape room is to have one puzzle lead to another puzzle which will lead to another one and so on. Use a variety of puzzles. Don’t make them impossible to solve, but do make them challenging. Make the clues obvious that they are a part of the game. Here are just a few examples:

– Combination locks. Combo locks can be opened by solving a number puzzle or by looking at numbers on a clock’s face. The possibilities are endless!

– Padlock. Padlocks are great because they need a key to open them. Maybe the key is locked inside of another box. Maybe the key is in an inaccessible location that requires a special tool to reach it.

– Invisible ink. You can write secret codes with petroleum jelly and reveal it with a UV flashlight. Maybe, there are invisible arrows written on the walls that lead to a secret box.

– Book Cipher. Find a word or several words in a book that will lead to the next clue. Make a note of the page number, the line number, and word number and list them in order. i.e. 5, 27, 12 would mean the word is the 12th word on the 27th line on page 5. ( I would recommend telling your team how to solve this cipher)

-Jigsaw Puzzle. Solve a 25 piece jigsaw puzzle and write a secret code or message on the back, then scatter the pieces throughout the room!

4. Rules.

Write out the rules and brief the team before they play. Make sure you indicate what parts of the room(s) are off limits. Of course, always keep an eye on your teens! Take care that your teens don’t break anything. Offer the team 3 hints, if they really are stumped!

5. Prize.

Make an incentive for escaping the room in time! A special dessert, perhaps. Of course, if they don’t escape in time, give them the prize anyway!

The possibilities of your escape room are truly endless! It’s a great way to make memories and encourage teamwork. Be creative, use your imagination, and have fun!

Jesse Maxwell
Youth Pastor
Landmark Baptist Church
Haines City, Fl

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