Greetings to the Clue Community!

Hello again everyone!

It’s been a super-busy/super-fun week for us here at Dr. Clue, with hunts taking place in Denver, Oakland, Philadelphia and the Bronx Zoo, NYC.   I also had a chance to skip over to Calgary, Alberta, for some scouting of a June hunt program in spectacular Banff, Canada.

What are YOU doing this summer to bring your teams together?

In today’s issue of the Dr. Clue newsletter, we’ve got 3 more puzzles for you to solve, an icebreaker that may ring a bell, and an article about the difference between scavenger hunts and treasure hunts.   Enjoy!

Dave Blum
Editor, Dr. Clue Icebreaker Newsletter

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Frame Games

Last issue, we gave you these 3 puzzles:

Thanks to everyone who sent in a solution.  The correct answers were:

Kick in the Butt
Monkey on your back
Dr. Dolittle

Honorable mentions go to our fastest solvers, including:

Kathie Kentfield
Kristin Wilson
Karen Ford Newcomer
Sherri Peters

However our First-to-Solve was David Tsang.  Congratulations David!

This Week’s Puzzles:

Here are three more puzzles to challenge your brain cells.  As always, let’s see who can get them all the fastest and be named the “F2S” (first to solve).

Email your answers to me ASAP at:     This one is going to go fast!

Good luck!

This Week’s Icebreaker

Rings A Bell

Overview:  A simple, quick and fun activity as an icebreaker or discussion starter.  Also a good way of insuring that all mobile phones are switched off at the start of a meeting.

Process:  Ask each participant to introduce themselves to the group.  As part of their intros, people will demonstrate their mobile phone ring tone.  They should explain the reason for their choice (or lack of interest) in their personal ring tone, and offer comment as to what this might suggest about their personality or style.

Review/Conclusions:  How long have you had this particular phone?  How often do you upgrade?   Why did you choose this model?  Why did you choose this ring tone? How often do you change ring tones.  What does the phone/ring tone say about you?  Were you surprised with the ring tones of others?   What assumptions had you perhaps made about other people and how did their ring tones challenge those assumptions?   How has your perception of others changed in light of this information?   How does it feel to share your ring tone with others?

The Point:    We have such limited information available to us when it comes to knowing our co-workers — especially new team members.   How do they dress? What’s their hair style?   Their hygiene?   Their body language?   Quite naturally, we form expectations and conclusions about people, based on our own experience and cultural assumptions.   Exercises like the one above are useful in bursting our expectations and revealing a little bit more about others’ internal life (as well as our own).   Even a ring tone can tell you much about how people view themselves.  And with self revelation comes trust.

(With thanks to

———————————————————————-Featured Article

Scavenger Hunts vs. Treasure Hunts:  Is there a difference?
By Dave Blum

One of the most common questions I hear from prospective clients is, “So what can you tell me about your scavenger hunts?”    For a native San Franciscan like me, this is akin to a tourist saying “I just love Frisco…especially your trolley cars.”   Sad to say folks, my lovely hometown by the bay is San Francisco (not Frisco), we have cable cars here (not trolleys), and Dr. Clue creates treasure hunts (not scavenger hunts).   Semantics do matter!

So what exactly is the difference between a scavenger hunt and a treasure hunt?  

Simply put, a scavenger hunt is based on a list.   On this list, you might be asked to bring back a specific object — a pine cone, a flag, a coaster from a particular bar, etc.   Or the hunt might be more photograph-based:  ie. “Take a picture of yourself in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, snap a shot of yourself at the top of the Eiffel Tower,” etc.   You get the idea.   Scavenger hunt lists tend to be quite direct and straightforward; here’s your task–now go out and execute it.   Each task in a scavenger hunt is worth a certain number of points and the team with the most  points accrued at the end of the game is named the winner.  Pretty fun stuff, huh?   Absolutely.   But not very cryptic!   From the beginning, you pretty much know what your tasks are; the biggest challenge, then, is prioritization.  How long will it take to reach this spot vs. that spot?   Is it worth going for the hard 10-pointers (which will take more time and effort) or the easier the 1-, 3- or 5- pointers, which take less time but are worth less points?

By contrast, a treasure hunt is based on the solving of cryptic clues.   A clue might be a riddle, a rhyme, or some simple wordplay.  It could be in code.  It could look like a puzzle.   What matters is that the clue, when solved, directs you to a specific location.    For example, let’s say a clue in San Francisco starts with, “There’s an eye in your milk — remove it!”   After pondering this phrase for a minute, you would realize that when you take the “i” out of “milk”, you get MLK — short for Martin Luther King — a street in Golden Gate Park.   A harder clue might be encrypted in Morse Code, Braille, or Sign Language.  Or it might involve a crossword puzzle, sudoku, wordsearch, or anything else the hunt master can think of.   Clues can require pen & paper; they can involve music or video; they can incorporate physical items.   One of my favorite clues had participants searching for messages in a bottle, floating in a lake.  Another one had teams opening up specially-made Cracker Jack bags.  Inside each bag, the peanuts and Cracker Jacks had been divided into separate baggies to represent dashes & dots, a la Morse Code.

Moreover, treasure hunts break down further into two distinct sub-categories:   sequential and non sequential.   A sequential treasure hunt looks like this:   you go to the first clue location and find clue # two…you then proceed to clue location # two and there find clue # three, and so on.   The hunt proceeds down a linear path until you reach a final location, where a “treasure” is awaiting the team that reaches there first.    The final location may also be the site of the final party. 🙂   A non-sequential treasure hunt, on the other hand, is a little bit like a scavenger hunt in that the clues are NOT in order.  In fact, you get ALL the clues up front.  Not only can you solve the clues in any order that you like, you can also visit the revealed clue locations in the order of your choice.  If you get stuck on a clue, just skip it and come back to it.  If you see a team going one direction, perhaps your team will head off in the opposite direction.    Each clue is worth a specific number of points; like a scavenger hunt, the team with the most points is named the winner.    How you acquire points at each location is up to the hunt master.   Perhaps there is a question to answer at each location.   Perhaps you have to pick up a certain item or take a specific photo (a la scavenger hunts).   The possibilities are endless.

What are the pros and cons of these various hunt formats?      Scavengers hunts are perhaps the easiest hunts to mount.  All you need to do is come up with a list and the teams take care of the rest.   For people who are more action oriented, scavenger hunts can be a great option.  Without too much planning, teams get out on the course, rushing around, and crossing items off the list.  Conversely, treasure hunts take a bit more time to set up.  As the hunt master, you need to go out and scout a number of potential locations, choosing the very best ones for your hunt clues.  You must take detailed notes and digital photos.  And you must then write the clues, bearing in mind that any ambiguity will literally send teams on a wild goose chase.  That means that you really need to playtest all the clues in advance, which — again — takes more time and effort.   The advantage of treasure hunts, however, is in my opinion quite worthwhile. In particular, it’s simply a blast watching participants get that delicious “Eureka Moment”, when they’ve solved a clue, pulled meaning from chaos, and then followed the “trail of breadcrumbs” to a cool location that they wouldn’t have otherwise known about.   For people who are more “mind-oriented”, treasure hunts really do the trick.  And for teambuilding, treasure hunts are terrific because groups are required to assess their skills and knowledge and delegate the right person to the right clue.   If the hunt master has done their job sufficiently, one person — alone — could never solve all the clues.  It take a diverse group, with diverse skills and knowledge, to succeed at a puzzle-based, non-sequential treasure hunt (like we create here at Dr. Clue).

So what’s it going to be the next time you’re in Frisco riding a trolley car?    A scavenger hunt or a treasure hunt?   As they say in Pig Latin (a fun decoding language):  “ouyay ecideday.”

As always, thank you for being a part of the Dr. Clue Community!

Dave Blum, Editor, The Dr. Clue Friday Icebreaker newsletter

Feel free to contact us at 707-566-7824 with your thoughts and comments,
or email Dave personally at