For my birthday last week I wanted to check out one of the scavenger hunts run by Watson Adventures. They host hunts in New York, LA, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia and I had heard raves about their most challenging: Murder at the Met.
I invited eleven I felt would love the game to join me. (Apologies for the blurry pictures, but, remember, you're not supposed to use flash inside the museum--not even for a special occasion.) I thought that twelve players divided into three teams of four would be ideal. A team of two would have a difficult time since there's so much ground to cover, items to find, and codes to break, while a team of five or more might get in each other's way or leave a few people out of the fun.
For the sake of your own potential hunt, I'm not going to divulge any of the details other than to say that in Murder at the Met, you have two hours to loop through the museum locating objects, filling in clues and then using the clues to solve the mystery.
There were nine other teams playing that night and I'm proud to say that two of our teams tied for third and for second, and one of our teams won with a perfect score. (I have very smart friends.) Mine was one of the teams in second place, short of a perfect score by only one measly point. We couldn't find the thingamajig in the whatchamacallit room. This was one of the hardest items to find and since it was early in our loop (every team follows the same route but starts in different locations), we expected all the searches to be that difficult and forced ourselves to move on. By the end of the game we convinced ourselves that the temporary answer we had put down was probably the right one. It wasn't. And apparently, according to the other teams, the correct item is "really, really beautiful." (I look forward to admiring the "really, really beautiful" thingamajig on my next visit.)
The scavenger hunts are designed as team-building projects and I was fascinated to see and hear how each individual took a specific role in the hunt. Consider my group. Since I knew the floor plan very well, I became the navigator, moving my group from gallery to gallery and to a few of the objects without a single false turn, but I could not for the life of me get my mind around the mystery we were supposed to solve. "I know who was murdered!" I proclaimed at one point even though the murder victim was stated in the opening line of the handout and was never, at any moment, in question. Becca turned out to be the story sleuth, keeping track of every suspect, relationship and motivation; Doug was the code breaker; and Sarah was the voice of reason, bringing us back to earth whenever our rationalizing got too complicated. (What's most interesting is that these aren't necessarily the roles we would have played if the teams were different.)
Pictured on the right--Laura, Tessa, Marc and Chris: the winners of last Friday's Murder at the Met:
To solve the Murder at the Met or to find another scavenger hunt near you, visit Watson Adventures.
It's snowing again today and I was reminded of the Battle for Belvedere Castle, a massive snowball fight waged last February. This is a repost (2/2008) of that epic confrontation:
During the season's first winter storm last Friday, a day when most news outlets focused on the Serbian protesters setting part of the U.S. embassy ablaze or on the Turkish forces crossing into Iraq to engage Kurdish rebels, a much less publicized battle raged at Belvedere Castle, high above Turtle Pond. It was my mission that morning to lead an unruly squad of forty-two eighth-graders and four of their teachers across Central Park. After stocking up on rations in Times Square, we were transferred by the local B to our starting point at 81st Street. A few in the ranks reported that the Metropolitan Museum of Art was closed due to snow, but they were from California and didn't know the difference between the Metropolitan Museum and Metropolitan College or whatever school would have announced its closing on the news that morning. I ignored them and entered the park through the Hunter's Gate.
My plan was to march them south, then east to the Swedish Cottage, where we would turn north and then east to cut between the Delacorte Theater and the Great Lawn, slipping below the East Drive via the Greywacke Arch to reach Fifth Avenue and approach the Met from the south. At the West Drive, however, I decided that we couldn't rush through such a beautiful winter landscape and I led them instead into the Ramble and up the windy path to Belvedere Castle. I alerted my fellow guide, who was responsible for an additional forty-eight students and teachers, to our whereabouts. He replied that they too would make the climb.