What is a clue?

In its most basic form, a clue is simply a puzzle that solves to an answer.   The answer, however, is in the form of directions, propelling you to a mystery location.   For example, if your puzzle read “Go to the “STOP  ICEOFF”, you would soon realize that the two italicized words in caps are anagrams of “POST OFFICE”.   By solving the puzzle, you have earned yourself directions to a specific location.

Now, it wouldn’t be much of a hunt if the clues were as easy as the one above!  In a typical hunt, you would have a large variety of clue types to solve, from picture puzzles to word puzzles, from Morse Code to Braille, from sudokus to trivia quizzes.   Over the last 24 years, Dr. Clue has developed over 200 different types of clues!.    Delegation on teams is essential, for the person who is good at a word search is not necessarily the person who is also good at a logic puzzle, nor is the person who knows everything about movies always the same person who knows sports, shopping or cooking!   The point of a clue-based treasure hunt is for teams to delegate the right puzzle to the right person, thereby leveraging the skills and talents of the individual team members for the good of the whole.    That’s the power of teamwork!!


The general hunt process is simple:

  • Solve the puzzle
  • Go to the location indicated
  • Answer a question
  • Perform the final creative challenge

The team with the most points is the winner.  Teams can earn extra points for photo and video creativity.

Listen in as Dave Blum, Founder and President of Dr. Clue, talks about how our teambuilding scavenger hunt clues work:

Clue examples: 

Sample Clue 1: 

In the puzzle below (from our hunt in San Rafael, CA), teams must summon their knowledge of touch typing on a computer keyboard.  As you can see, the hunt master has replaced all the letters on the mock keyboard with numbers.    Below the image is a set of numbers corresponding to the keyboard.

12     3     3     18     11     10     19     11     1     7     3     11     24     9     7     5

11     22     9     7     4     5     16     9     7     12     3     9     25     5     16     3

15     4     9     7     25     13     3     11     12     5     9     14     “11”     9     25

“14     9     7     4     5     16”

Q:  What could you say about justice back then?     5,000 points

(Click here to see the clue in full scale).

When you convert the numbers back to letters, using the keyboard, your message reads as follows:  “Seek a plaque about a courthouse on the ground East of “A” on “Fourth”.   When arriving at this location, you answer the final question and, if correct, you receive 5,000 points.

Sample Clue 2: 

We wrote this clue for AT&T Park in San Francisco, CA.    In the first part of the clue, you find a 26-box grid;  each box provides a hint to a specific San Francisco Giant, past or present.   The name of each player corresponds to a letter, A through Z.

In the second part of the puzzle, you find the names of famous SF Giants.    Each name corresponds to a letter from the grid.   So, for example, Marichal is the letter S;   Mays is E, and Beck is K.   Thus, the first word decodes to “S-E-E-K”.

(Click here to see the clue in full scale).

(Click here to see the clue in full scale).
If you continue in this manner, your final message spells out, “Seek the classic cable car in right center field and learn its number.”   There we asked,

“What number is it?”  5,000 points

To find out, your team would need to actually go to that location and write down the number on the cable car.  When you have the correct answer, you receive 5,000 points.


In the clue above, we could do a product grid, or an employee grid.  Solving the puzzle would require participants to know something about your organization!

Many such clues are possible.   Just let us know what’s important to you and we’ll tailor the hunt to your specifications.

testimonial & partner

What our clients says?

Annie LiAutodesk

I loved the evolution of learning and cooperation that developed at each successive level.

Michelle SkorkaSun-Netscape Alliance

The hunt you planned for us was awesome, creative, challenging and most of all FUN!

Wayne DabneyLiz Clairborne

I loved the examples of clues & the focus on team collaboration.

Mark PalmerConoco Phillips

I liked that some of the clues required or promoted collaboration with other groups.