Last Monday, we ran an Amazing Race-style scavenger hunt around downtown Farmington and the UMF campus. There were 10 teams that received their own team bandanas and participated in the race. The race was part of the University of Maine at Farmington Orientation and each team was made up of first-year college students.
The Amazing Race format comes from a TV show of the same name. In the show, teams race around the world to different locations, following clues and completing challenges at designated stopping points. Teams have to figure out where they are going and how to get there. We thought this would be the perfect format to introduce new students to the downtown Farmington area.
Start of the Race
After checking in at the UMF Fusion Center building, each team waited patiently for their time to start the race. A pile of sealed yellow envelopes waited on a table in front of the teams. Inside the envelope: a map, and their first clue.
We started teams one at a time with a few minutes in between each start. The first few stops would be on the UMF Campus, before leading into downtown Farmington. Students completed a challenge at the Mantor Library and then moved on to find a hidden box by Merrill Hall. After that, teams were directed to make their way downtown.
We were able to work closely with a few other small businesses in Farmington to have as stops along the race. At each of these locations, teams would have to complete a specific challenge related to the business.
At Determined Nutrition, teams drank a candy-inspired tea as fast as they could before receiving the next clue. Twice Sold Tales asked teams to figure out the name of a particular writer and then find one of his books within the bookstore.
When students got to The Downtown Press Cafe, they were directed to put on gloves and assemble a whoopie pie that would be judged by the owner. At Minikins, the teams had to find prices for 5 different items throughout the toy store. And here at Farmington Underground, of course they had to solve one of our escape room boxes in order to get their next clue.
The teams seemed to have a lot of fun with this. The students were guided along by some yellow flags we hung beforehand, but still had to find the correct general location. Once there they had to enter each business and figure out the challenge. At some points there were up to 4 teams trying to complete the same challenge at once.
And the teams ran! Not for the whole time, but at certain points when they felt the pressure. We were not sure (and did not mind either way) if the teams would want to really “race”, but they sure did. At the end, the winning team completed everything in 57 minutes. All the teams decided to wait around for everyone to finish and see how they all did.
We definitely enjoyed planning this event and are glad it went so well. These outdoor puzzle hunts, like our History Mystery Scavenger Hunt give people a fun way to explore their community. So yes, we are looking to do more things like this in the future!