Locking up the kids…

36 hours, nearly a hundred 8 year-olds, lots of glasses of squash…..

Last week i stood in our reception watching the last of 90 or so eight year old children form a line behind their teacher, thank us in unison for a fab school trip, and then file out the store in pairs. As a blissful silence then descended I watched our awesome team collapse into various chairs, sofas and corners of the room. A mixture of smiles, nervous laughter, and quiet utterances along the lines of “well that was an experience….” then drifted around the group.

We’d just had the absolute pleasure of hosting all the Year 4 children from our local Primary School as they took on our Escape Rooms. It was an incredibly intense yet ultimately very, very rewarding couple of days and i wanted to reflect on that here in my blog.

Escape rooms and children

Our games were primarily designed with teenagers and adults in mind. There’s nothing scary or adult themed in them, its just the puzzles and game play is pitched at that sort of level. I’d thought about designing a room specifically for children – in fact my 9 year old son had been very determined i should!!. I figured it would need to be robust, the story-line would need to be age appropriate, and the puzzles pitched for youngsters to complete.

What happened after we opened was more and more people asked us if they could bring younger children in. We said yes, though explained they would need to help them through the room. As they did, though, we learnt that the current rooms worked really well for younger spies.. Our rooms have proven to be pretty robust – and easy to repair. The story-lines worked with kids – if anything they got into them way more than the parents. Finally, 90% of the puzzles could be done by children. They might need a bit more time, or a nudge in the right direction, but they could do them.

The biggest thing we learnt, I guess, is kids just loved it. I’d go as far as to say they are better in two ways than many adults. Children are much more used to immersing themselves in a story. They love the idea of becoming a spy, of entering an imaginary world and playing their part. They also then had energy. Lots and lots of energy. They pretty much run from puzzle to puzzle, working at twice the rate of most adults groups.

A rewarding experience?

That boundless energy meant it was a pretty tiring couple of days with the kids last week. It was all so worth while though. One of my favourite moments was, at the end of one of the sessions, a young lad walked up and pulled on my sleeve. “Excuse me” he said “Thank you for today. I’ve now decided – when i grow up, I want to be a spy!”

Future recruit for MI5 i reckon!