“It’s a replica of a Long House where the chief would live,” explains Christopher Combs, Executive Director of The Institute for American Indian Studies which has long been a place for learning. “We are here to honor the natives who lived here thousands of years ago.”
But a new feature is bringing the institute further into the modern world, reaching a younger demographic. Welcome to the Wigwam Escape Room, created by Griffin Kalin.
“This was a way to create a hands-on experience,” he says.
“The idea is you’re working together and collaborating,” says the guide, during an informal introduction. “I’m going to ask that you lock-up your watches and cell phones – you’ll be telling time differently.”
When players open the door to the escape room, they enter the year 1518. They’re in a Native American village in the eastern woodlands of Connecticut. They recently heard from a neighboring village that’s affected by an illness and they are in need of help.
The objective is to gather supplies for the journey – water, medicine and two types of cooked food. Participants traverse the room – needing to solve puzzles before they exit. It’s not easy.
“Some groups come-in and blast through. Other groups really struggle,” says Kalin. “It depends on what your skills are.”
When participants hear thunder, they’re offered clues.
The experience promotes tech-free family bonding and an appreciation for the past and the future.
“It’s an education room – that’s the secret. It’s fun to play,” says Combs. “You want people to have fun – we do have fun – I have fun running the place.”
Wigwam Escape is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays by reservation. Folks get an hour in the escape room.