Slice of Life Story Challenge, Day 3 #sol19

Life lessons from the Wigwam Challenge

The door closed.  We were locked in.  Looking around, I could immediately see that all of us- my wife, five friends and I- had clearly passed into another world.  The murals, the foliage- and, of course, the wigwam– that adorned the interior of the “Wigwam Escape Room” stunned all of us with their authenticity.

But it was time to get to work.

“You’ll have sixty minutes to complete your task,” our guide, Lauren had said before we entered.  “And you’ll need to work together. No cell phones are allowed inside.  You’ll only be able to gauge time by the light and the birdsongs you hear.”

Once inside, and at first without speaking, my team fanned out.  Suddenly to our left, an animal appeared.  “A deer!” someone announced.  Lauren, chief designer of this “Wigwam Challenge” at the Institute for Native American Studies Museum and Research Center, had told us we would need to “hunt” animals. “But be careful,” she’d warned, “they ‘scare’ easily.”  Spotting the deer, all of us quickly crouched to the ground, not wanting to “frighten” the fake deer now illuminated in LED light from above.  A quick and unanimous vote established that my friend Patrick would be our hunter.  (Personally, I have never had the stomach for this activity in real life.  Even if the deer was make-believe, I knew I needed a different job in this challenge).

As Patrick grabbed a faux spear and began to creep toward the pretend deer, my eyes scanned the room.  At this point, everyone seemed to be doing the same– exploring, taking it all in.  Finally, over my right shoulder, I promptly noticed something significant.  The Native American backpack!  “Your main job,” our guide had instructed, “is to find and fill the Native backpack with the four items you’ll need for the journey your tribe is about to embark on.”  So this must be that pack, I thought, as a smile crossed my face.

Quickly, while recorded Warblers sang in the background, I motioned for my friend Jamie to join me.  I showed her what I’d found, and together we removed the replica of a Native canteen from the backpack and began searching for a way to fill it.  To my left, I noticed that in short order, my wife and Patrick’s wife were engaged in a different puzzle of some sort.  Something to do with cooking meat. And our other two friends seemed to working on “harvesting” some type of crop.

In the end, our team completed the challenge in 57 minutes.  Success!  Afterwards, we were asked by the staff (who had been watching us through hidden cameras) what we learned through this experience.  Someone said, “Collaborating and working together made the difference.”  Another said, “We played to our strengths to accomplish the overall mission.”  Still another person answered, “When something became hard for one person, another would suggest a different approach.”

Great life lessons from the Wigwam Escape Challenge.

Author: Lanny Ball

For more than 29 years, Lanny has taught, coached, presented, staff developed, and consulted within the exciting and enigmatic world of literacy. With unyielding passion and belief in the possibility of workshop teaching, Lanny has worked to support students, teachers, and school administrators around the country in outgrowing themselves as both writers and readers. Working first as a classroom teacher, then as a coach and TCRWP Staff Developer, Lanny is now a literacy specialist, working and living in the great state of Connecticut. Outside of literacy, he enjoys raising his three ambitious young daughters with his wife, and playing the piano. Find him on this blog, as well as on Twitter @LannyBall. Lanny is also a former co-author of a blog dedicated to supporting writing teachers and coaches that maintain classroom writing workshops,

7 thoughts on “Slice of Life Story Challenge, Day 3 #sol19”

  1. I have yet to do an Escape Room, but my sons have. Your post has me thinking of places where learning and gaming and experiential elements might converge in an interesting way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your description and explanation make me want to look up this Escape Room. I haven’t done one yet. This one sounds like a great blend of learning, having fun and challenging oneself. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your description gave me a picture of this elaborate scene. I was waiting for the connection to writing… the ending actually brought my own connection. A recent visit with our TC staff developer and a conversation about Lucy Calkin’s book, Leading Well. She said that Lucy has been so successful at TC because she knows the strengths of the people she works with and leans on those. Our staff developer encouraged us to try and do that within our school. Of course not all posts have to relate back to school, but your post today brought on that connection for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never participated in an escape room, but your description opens up the possibility for me. I love the way you and your friends exemplify the power of cooperation. Classroom applications abound!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You really helped me see this escape room. I’ve never been to one. However one related to history sounds very interesting. You must know each other well to get right to the work like that or you’re all teachers 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Were you ever freaked out? I am not sure I would enjoy an escape room. My son enjoys them and has done several with friends and co-workers. Would an escape room be a good field trip of middle or high school kids?

    Liked by 1 person

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