Find Family Adventure in an Escape Room!
As a harried mother of three busy children aged 6, 12 and 14, I don’t get much time to watch television. There is one show, though, that I’ll record in order to watch later.
“The Middle” is a light-hearted sitcom about a dysfunctional family (the Hecks), living in the Midwest in the fictitious town of Orson, in “the middle of nowhere.” In a recent episode, the family of five uses a Groupon to get a discount at the local “Escape Orson” escape room attraction.
While they barely escape before the game clock runs out, the Hecks do manage to learn a few personal secrets about each other and, in their own slightly unhealthy (yet endearing) way, they bond.
Little did I know what a huge, hot trend this phenomenon has, in reality, become! What started out several years ago as a simple phone app with mystery-solving games has evolved into a business model that now includes store-front establishments located literally all over the globe.
The premise of an escape room is essentially this: Your team has 60 minutes to locate and decipher numerous clues hidden within a themed room and among theme-related props. You must piece together the puzzles, solve the mystery, and escape the room before the clock runs out of time. The facilitator/employee outside of your room is able to see and hear you, and is able to give helpful clues, should you get stuck.
I recently found a coupon of my own to an escape attraction right here in Biloxi. We packed up all three (very bored) kids and drove to Escape This Biloxi, which offers three themed escape rooms to choose from: the “Insane Asylum,” the “Supernatural,” and the “Murder Mystery Office,” the one we chose.
According to owner Lori Beauchamp, the best part of experiencing an escape room is the team-building that evolves from working together toward a common goal. Not only do individuals and families benefit, but so do large corporations, employees from small businesses, and even military groups.
“You have to learn how to communicate better, as well as work as a team and not as an individual,” she said.
“You have to keep each other in the loop as you discover and use the various clues up until the very end,” Beauchamp explained. “Otherwise, someone will miss a key element and not be able to contribute or participate as they should.”
So … what did WE learn about our own (mostly functional) family during our hour-long experience?
For one, we already knew my law-enforcement background husband would perform superbly when it came to handling evidence, interpreting descriptions of suspects, and determining motives. But he also got to use his Sudoku-solving skills, which was cool.
We already knew our teenage daughter has the most amazing and complete memory, and that she has the knack for noticing the smallest details. What we were surprised by, however, was her understanding of the criminal mind and ability to think through each suspect’s background and contemplate how a suspect might have felt or acted in the given circumstances.
When I asked her what she learned from our adventure, she said, “It confirmed that I want to study Forensic Science some day and learn more about criminal psychology.”
Our middle schooler son, on the other hand, is a mathematician at heart and lover of numbers and puzzles. He loved the progression that one clue led to another. Furthermore, he’s our rule-follower, and least of our three kids to require much discipline. We learned he’s actually not afraid to take risks and not embarrassed about being a tad “freaky” when the situation calls for a daring move.
“Even different generations can all work together to figure out the answers to their mystery challenge,” my son noted. “And we were all able to work together and solve problems really well!”
Our first-grader had no idea what the clues meant. She simply “felt like a detective” as she seriously took on the responsibility of assisting us when asked to “hold this for me,” or “get us that item over there.” I had no idea it would work out so well for her and that she’d actually be able to keep up with her older siblings. She felt big, and she felt included and important and vital to our mission.
At the end of our hour (and with two minutes, eight seconds left on our clock), we not only successfully “escaped,” but also discovered we had a Sudoku genius, a criminal psychologist, a freaky risk-taker, and a brave and helpful princess in our midst.
Throughout the process, I kept everyone focused and on task. I realized that it will always be my job, no matter the circumstances, to act as cheerleader, organizer, translator and family manager. I am what I always have been and always will be: the glue that holds this family together.
I am what all moms are: the force behind the group that keeps the whole thing moving forward, all the while making sure each member has clean clothes, a full tummy, and a smiling face. I am, ultimately, the true facilitator of this little team of detectives.
I was, after all, the one who found the coupon in the first place!
Escape Rooms in Mississippi:
Escape This Biloxi
249 Beauvoir Road
Biloxi, MS 39531
Hint Hunter Puzzle Room/Escape Room
10253 D’Iberville Blvd.
D’Iberville, MS 39540
College Town Escape Rooms
6668 Highway 98 W
Hattiesburg, MS 39402
JXN Escape Room
916 Foley St.
Jackson, MS 39202
Get Out Southaven
230-3 Goodman Road East
Southaven, MS 38671
Liberation Escape Rooms
975 Goodman Road East
Southaven, MS 38671
The Escape Room Olive Branch
8230 Camp Creek Blvd.
Olive Branch, MS 38654
Paradox Games & Escape Rooms
716 N Gloster St
Tupelo, MS 38804
Deadbolt Escape Rooms
1186 Cliff Gookin Blvd
Tupelo, MS 38018
Tracy D. DeStazio is a freelance writer and editor living in Biloxi. She has been married to her high school sweetheart for 23 years and they have three children: one in elementary, one in middle, and one in high school. Her new favorite activity is visiting escape rooms!