Wigwam Escape: Families can experience a new approach to learning at CT museum

Connecticut Families

“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.

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