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Ice Cream Quest

New friends race to uncover ciphers, riddles & clues to unlock ice cream from a padlocked freezer during a university's Welcome Week.

The Challenge:

Ten days before Welcome Week at Maharishi International University, we received a request to design and produce an original social mixer that would help their newly arrived students jump-start their social lives on campus.

The event had to be budget friendly, instantly bring together strangers in a natural way, and facilitate meaningful bonding in 60 minutes or less.​

Our Solution:

The team worked simultaneously on-site in Iowa and remotely in Manhattan to create a story-based puzzle hunt that would form random teams of ten from the incoming class, immediately facilitate socialization & team building, and culminate in a celebration.

The student center had ten bronze donor plaques which were evenly distributed throughout the building, providing an opportunity to encode ten parts of a secret riddle within their text. The first team to work together successfully to uncover and solve the riddle (using a cipher we provided them in a welcome packet) would find a physical key hidden in the massive space - and unlock ice cream for the entire incoming class.​

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Urgency was inspired through story - in this case a disgruntled employee had quit the night before (fed up with working around young people who thought they were "so clever") and locked away the ice cream meant for the students' welcome social. As part of his plan, there was only enough ice in the padlocked cooler to last another 60 minutes before it started to melt. The only way to earn back the key he'd hidden was to prove that the students really were "so clever", by solving the clues he had hidden throughout the student center. Time was of the essence– and so the team-building began.​

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In Numbers:

  • 90 attendees

  • 9 teams

  • 1 contributor partner (Hy-Vee)

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