LAKE JACKSON — There’s a room full of secrets in the Center for Business/Industry Training at Brazosport College. Those who enter find themselves lost in a mysterious swamp with only a handful of clues to guide them back to the world outside.

Of course, they can also just open the door, but that’s against the spirit of CBIT’s Escape the Swamp experience for business teams.

“It started off in an innovation renovation initiative that we were going to undertake here,” CBIT Director Madonna Adams said. “In that initiative, we were just thinking of new, out-of-the-box opportunities that we could offer to the community and our clients here.”

One of the best ideas they had was an escape room that would allow businesses to work on their inter-office communication. Co-workers could enter and attempt the escape room while CBIT experts watched and evaluated any issues. When they decided to pursue this plan, their first order of business was to visit an escape room. Corporate Graphics Artist Christine Scott said they had a wonderful time and learned a lot about how such activities work, cementing their resolve to build one of their own.

“We picked Escape the Swamp because of the Brazosport Gators,” she said. “Then Madonna and I took on the task of going to every retail shop, every place we could think of to find all the props for it. Some of it we built ourselves, some of it we bought.”

They combed stores for props and décor to fit their swampland theme and built atmosphere as they stocked the room. There was one thing they couldn’t buy from a store, though: The puzzles. They had to craft a series of themed clues and questions to help players find their way through the mystery.

“Within the team, there was another team, and that was the puzzle team. We devised our own puzzles that we thought fit with the theme of the swamp,” Administrative Office Specialist Joy Carr said. “We came up with the puzzles in there now after lots and lots of research, thinking and trying, drawing boards, stuff like that.”

Coming up with the puzzles was the hardest part, Scott said, especially since they have to be on-theme and focus on team-building at the same time. They were so successful that they can offer intermediate and even advanced levels for experienced escape room teams.

“We hold ourselves to a high standard in training,” Carr said. “We want to offer the best training in the area that isn’t easily copied. We want to be able to offer that to our clients ... and transfer that learning back to the work environment.”

To that end, they’ve crafted a full training experience based around the escape room. Teams of six to 10 co-workers have one hour to work together and solve all the puzzles. CBIT staff monitor their progress and can offer hints if needed. Then, win or lose, the team gathers for an hour of discussion about the dynamics they displayed and the communication skills they excelled at or need work on. An upgraded version of the experience also offers a catered meal afterward.

“Clients in this area, they’re used to training. We just wanted to spice it up some,” Adams said. “There are other ways to get concepts to employees and we want to try something new, try something fun.”

Business owners and managers who want to take a team through Escape the Swamp can call 979-230-3050 to sign up.

Mary Newport is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0149.

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