Texting for Clues: Boston University Turns To TextMarks For Annual Scavenger Hunt
Planning a scavenger hunt? Devin Smith is a Graduate Assistant for the Student Activities Office at Boston University and recently helped run the fourth successful year of Boston University’s scavenger hunt style competition, the Amazing Race. This is just one of many programs run by the Student Activities Office designed to encourage student involvement and foster relationship building within the BU community. “Our goal with the Amazing Race is to get students out of their comfort zone, off campus, learning about Boston – and having fun!” said Smith.
Themed this year as “Tacky Terriers on Tour,” students participating were encouraged to dress up as tacky tourists for race day as they toured the city of Boston by solving clues to find the according destination with the city. At each of the 12 destinations, Student Activities “Tour Guides” were waiting for the tourists to administer a challenge that they were required to complete in order to proceed.
Group Scavenger Hunts – Paper Doesn’t Cut It
In previous years, each team received paper clues from a staff member after completing a challenge at each stop of the race. “With paper clues, staff and team members would end up carrying pieces of paper with them all day, which could get lost or damaged” said Smith. Based on feedback, the students didn’t like the paper clues and said they wanted a better way to get the scavenger hunt clues out.
Sending Clues as Text Messages
BU decided for the first time they would allow mobile phones to be used during the race. Taylor Sevigny, Coordinator of Programs at the Student Activities Office, supported this game-changer, “This was a significant change from previous years, but because so many of our students are actively using social media we wanted to incorporate it into the event.” But using social media to hand out clues wasn’t ideal because it’s so public. Emailing would also be difficult because there wasn’t an easy way to know who to email. That’s when they turned to text messaging from TextMarks.
“We had 40 teams with about 200 people participating in this year’s “Tacky Tourist” themed race. At the start of the race, we gathered in the gym and yelled out the first keyword. Students texted the keyword and got back an automated text response with their first clue. It was a great moment to watch them sprint out the door wearing their Hawaiian shirts, cargo shorts and fanny packs” says Smith. As teams progressed to the next stop, a staff member would provide the next keyword for them to text upon completion of a challenge and get back an auto-reply text with the next clue.
Mobile Scavenger Hunts For The Win
Texting for scavenger hunt clues turned out to be a huge hit with the BU students. “Everyone absolutely loved having the TextMarks service because it is something so relevant to them. They could all text the keyword and could each individually see the clue. Plus they had a record of their clues all day long and could refer back to it as trying to move from one place to another.” Making the switch from paper to mobile proved to be a winning strategy for the Student Activities Office at Boston University.
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