And the one-hour countdown begins….now! Having never worked together before save for a few meetings, our new YP Impact organizing team—team T.R.A.C.K. (for all of our first initials)—split up in different directions of The Lucky Duck Speakeasy at the Reality Break Escapes in Bellevue earlier this month. Thrust into the prohibition era, our team was tasked with identifying the kingpin of a criminal organization running the Lucky Duck and disarming a bomb meant to destroy us along with the evidence. We found a bunch of clues very quickly at the beginning; it seemed like we were poised to get out with plenty of time to spare. How wrong we were.
Following our initial good fortune, we found ourselves with many box locks to open, so our communal focus was zeroed in on finding keys, number sets, and arrows to help us open them. With other clues, such as newspaper clippings and court case documentation, our focus drifted into the various storylines behind the clues and our group was divided in terms of what to prioritize—it became a real test of our teamwork capabilities in achieving the overarching mission.
“It was a great way to learn quickly how we each think, how we each work, and where each of our strengths are,” Ross said. “It got a bit rough in the middle from the stress of the situation and wanting to do things our preferred way.”
The Game Master overseeing our journey provided hints to help us out of our rut, which led us into a second room. With less than thirty minutes to go, we accelerated our pace and tackled riddles and problems with rapid speed. During this time, we figured out who the mob boss was, but still had to figure out how to escape. Not making it out in time was starting to become an actual possibility.
“The experience really kept us on our toes,” Alyssa said. “Our emotions ranged from excitement and analytical to frustration and restlessness, topped off with an adrenaline rush that was quite entertaining!”
We pressed on, connecting dots via physical clues and puzzles. With less than fifteen minutes on the clock, we thought we were almost done…and then surprise there was a whole other set of puzzles to solve. We were really starting to sweat at this point. But we pooled together our knowledge from past clues to come full circle and meet our final challenge. There’s nothing quite like trying to get through the last puzzle in under 90 seconds with shaking hands and sweaty palms. We began to understand the pressure you see on tv when someone must disarm a bomb or escape a room with seconds left on a timer. It took multiple attempts by two people, but we managed to escape by the skin of our teeth–31 seconds remaining.
“A team is only as strong as its individual members,” Kara said. “When we worked together and acknowledged one another’s strengths, rather than working on separate parts of the escape room, we moved through things faster and more easily.”
Even though it was just a game, the experience also helped us understand the types of challenges we are likely to face as we grow YP Impact. There will be differences in strategy and opinion; we may get too caught up in the weeds and need to see things from a higher altitude, and we may simply get frustrated with each other from time to time! But throughout the experience, we showed openness to new ideas and never lost sight of what everyone can bring to the table. We also realized that we like to be physically organized—all of our solved clues were neatly piled up in a corner.
“We were able to learn each other’s strengths, grow as a team, and have fun doing it, ” Tanner said. “Go Team T.R.A.C.K!”
It was ultimately an enriching and fun experience that we encourage you to try out with friends, family, or coworkers!
YP Impact is a budding community of young professionals with an interest in giving back to the community we live, work and play in. If you’re interested in joining the community or just hearing more, visit this page and sign up to follow along.