The Escape Room

Every once in a while you have one of those moments where you see God more clearly, understand more about His character, and realize how much He love us. You expect to have those moments in a chapel or during an amazing victory circle, but what we didn’t expect was for God to speak into our hearts in an otherwise unused space at camp. Every season we create new activities that we think the students will love. This winter we made the Escape Room.

The adventure begins with a group of students and their counselor entering the Escape Room, along with our staff operator, Kip, who explains to them how it works: there is a lock on the door and to open it, a four number code that must be entered correctly; if not, the group has just one more try before the lock times out. Forty five minutes are placed on the clock, the door is locked, and the lights go out. The only light that can be seen is the red glow of the of the digital clock ticking down. On the table, unbeknownst to the players, is a glow-in-the-dark flashlight which the students must use to find the glowing footsteps that run along the floor, stopping suddenly. In the rafters above this spot is a key that opens a box covering the light switch. The group must work together in order to turn on the light, and solve the puzzle of the room.

There is an area in the room where a few of us could observe the group in action, and it was the most fascinating social experiment. One particular day, as the game began, we were watching with one of our youth pastors and discussing how one could write a thesis on what we saw. We had a group of about 12 high school boys and two counselors. Immediately they started digging into the room and we saw several things happening. There were those that formed smaller groups and were communicating only within their group, and there were the lone wolves. The counselors had great intentions, but often lead the students further away because they were over-thinking things, and seldom trusted that the boys might in fact know better. The group wasted time checking things that had already been checked by other groups. The lone wolves were generally on the right track, but didn’t have the support of others and were either talked out of their ideas or ignored altogether.

One particular camper who tended to work alone, was consistently close to solving the next step in the puzzle. Several times we heard him say something that could lead to the next clue, but no-one would listen or give him the tools to carry out his idea. There were those who would not let go of the clue or tool, failing to entrust it to anyone else.

As we watched we made the connection: Kip’s relationship to the group was a beautiful picture of God and His church. He knew all the answers. He knew all the mistakes people would make. There weren’t any surprises. He was the keeper of time, the holder of hints and essentially he controlled the room. When the group messed up, Kip wasn’t disappointed, he was really rooting for them. He wanted to give them hints and answers and solve all their problems. It was almost painful to watch them get so close and miss it, but he knew that if he interfered, if he took their experience into his own hands - not only would they learn nothing, nor have any fun, they would miss out on the joy when their efforts paid off, and escaped the room.

We sometimes view God looking down on all our inadequacies and failures with disappointment. The room showed us something else. We know life isn’t a game. It’s filled with greater joys and deeper sorrows, but this simple activity reminded us that God isn’t a micromanager. He doesn’t manipulate His church. He has gifted us uniquely and desires that we work together because He created us to be relational. He created this way because He is love and we are made in His likeness! He doesn’t give us all the answers because He Himself is the answer, and in His goodness, He provides us hints, ah-ha moments and His Word to help us understand how much He loves us. We do a lot of activities at Hume but there is something special about the Escape Room!