Escape rooms are a fun way to engage teams in cooperative puzzle solving. These team-building activities can also be focused around a theme. When you are creating a youth ministry escape room, you might want to base it on a Bible story or a teaching.
So how do you create an escape room for youth ministry? Here are some tips.
If you are not familiar with escape rooms, play a couple yourself before attempting to create one. You can do an “at home” tabletop version such as a card based escape room game from the Exit series. Escape the Room also has some fun ones. These will help you later on when you are trying to come up with puzzles. Just look at the puzzles in these game and modify them to fit into your youth ministry escape room theme.
Start small. Maybe your first attempt should only have three puzzles. Use it as gathering activity and see how it goes. This will give you a feel for designing before you create an escape room as the main event.
Define the theme. You want your theme to be fun and not too scholarly. So if you are focusing on a gospel story, your theme could be a couple trying to plan their wedding. But don’t necessarily tell the youth the whole theme. That would give too much away. They don’t need to know that the name of the town which the couple lives in is Cana.
Come up with a list of objects which relate to your theme. About 10 objects is a good number for a standard escape room. If your theme is about the wedding at Cana, maybe you need some flowers (this is a wedding), a chair for the banquet hall, some containers for water and wine, etc.
Make up your story line, involving the objects. For example, first the couple is going to try to get some flowers. But the local florist is out. So they will need to find a secret garden which is known for it’s beautiful blooms. After they get the flowers, they need to find a ukulele, because their musician has broken his. You get the idea… Write your ideas on index cards so you can arrange or rearrange them easily.
Next, you need some puzzles. This is where you need to get creative. For example, perhaps they need to solve a maze to find the garden in the example above. They might need a number to unlock a combination lock for a box containing the ukulele. Pro tip: Scripture verses make a great way to come up with numbers. Have them find familiar passages in their bible to come up with the right combination. A cypher where letters are represented by numbers or symbols can also be worked in. Give a clue to the key so they can decode it. And of course, there are always physical challenges. Perhaps they need to knock something over with a finger rocket to discover something behind it. That is always fun…. So some options are:
- There can be physical challenges like knock down a wall.
- Spoken riddles can be given by a core team member in character.
- Paper and pencil challenges can be decoding a cryptogram or solving a maze.
- There can be obstacles they must find their way around. Maybe they are blindfolded or have to cross a “river” without getting wet.
- Real combination locks (with numbers you can set) which must be opened to get into a box or another room are a classic escape room puzzle.
This book of escape room puzzles will give you lots of ideas which you can tailor to your youth ministry escape room.
Give your puzzles a test run with your core team or somebody who did not help you create the puzzles. Make sure it makes sense, can be accomplished, but is not too easy. Make adjustments as necessary.
Set up your room to match your theme. You can use one room or multiple rooms, depending on what is available at your location. Decorate it for your theme. You don’t have to go over the top, but you want it to be fun and not just look like your regular meeting room. Some black lights can give it a fun glow. Drape some material here and there. Put theme related objects and pictures around. A little music playing can add to the fun.
And you are ready to go…
Have you created a youth ministry escape room? What is your advice? What was your favorite theme? Add your comments below.