One of our most popular teen programs this summer has been Escape the Library!, an escape room-style event. I have hosted four so far and still have two to go. This event took a lot of planning. I wasn’t sure I could come up with a good story, nor did I have the time to invest in creating puzzles. I looked at Breakout EDU, but it was a little out of our price range for this fiscal year. Luckily, I found Lock, Paper, Scissors (formerly known as Heist Party).
Lock, Paper, Scissors is a business that creates DIY escape room kits. For $20, I was able to purchase a kit that I can use over and over again. There are four kits to choose from. I selected Escape Room Z, which involves zombies trying to steal your pizza. Once you purchase a kit, you gain access to a file with everything you need to print the game at home. The file includes all of the clues, posters, and a Publisher file that allows you to edit the game.
Once printed, I had a little difficulty figuring out the set-up but Lock, Paper, Scissors provides a handy YouTube tutorial that walked me through it. For our programs I used some real props to make the game more interesting and to make it seem more like an actual escape room, rather than our library meeting room. I recommend making a map of where you’ve hidden the clues, because I found myself forgetting a couple of times. Also, try a practice run with some staff members before your actual event.
The game was a little difficult for our teens, but they still managed to solve the puzzles and escape within about 30 minutes (with LOTS of hints). Escape Room Z is recommended for groups of 4 -6 players. We’ve been averaging about 15 teens per event. To accommodate all of the teens, I printed off multiple copies of the game and color-coded the clues. The teens were then divided up into teams by color and then all played simultaneously to see who could finish first. The team play went smoothly, but it’s a good idea to try and have a “hint master” per team. After all teams “escaped”, the teens were allowed to shoot the zombies with toy dart guns. This was their favorite part. We served pizza, but I think they even enjoyed shooting the zombies more than the pizza.
Overall, I think the DIY kits from Lock, Paper, Scissors are an easy and affordable way to host an escape room event at your library.