My kids learned just about everything from their ABC’s to their rhyming words from scavenger hunts. I wrote about some of my unconventional educational methods a few weeks ago. You can read more about that here. Our summers have always included puzzles, and vacations filled with gold panning, adventures and planting geocaching clues. We love spirited games of skill. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone to hear that we’ve been sucked into the biggest treasure hunt of our lives.
It all started with BoingBoing. If you don’t read BoingBoing you should, it’s an amazing blog by the author Cory Doctorow. This week he ran a guest post by James Renner and it was all about a little known book called The Secret: A Treasure Hunt. You can read Renner’s post here. Published in 1982 The Secret: A Treasure Hunt contained original artwork and poem style clues that lead to the locations of 12 keys buried all over North America. Each key could be redeemed for a gem worth about $1,000 dollars. Although the book is over 30 years old, only two gems were ever claimed. Renner plans to find one of those keys this summer, and now that he blogged about his goal my kids plan to find one too.
Since reading about the hunt the boys and I have been Googling, reading history books and generally feeling like we’re having a real National Treasuresque adventure from the comfort of our living room. My youngest uses most of his time planning how to spend the money we will undoubtedly win. It’s a little summertime math review squeezed into the hunt fun: Just how much do tickets to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter cost anyway? My oldest and I are hitting the notebooks and creating lists of research questions. We take turns chasing down the answers. And every time we discover what we hope is a connection, we jump up and down and get a little crazy. We’ve even convinced my husband to come with us when we head to a location we think one of the treasure keys might be hidden at.
It occurred to me that the thrill of the chase is what I love so much about fiction writing. A new novel is almost like a jigsaw puzzle, a complicated picture broken down into thousands of tiny pieces and they all need to fix together perfectly. And just like a jigsaw puzzle, I never know how hard the darn thing will be to finish, or how many times I’ll need to pack the pieces up to make room for something else in my life.
So for now, I’ll put aside the pieces of my novel and lose myself in a new puzzle with my kids. Turns out I’m having an insanely good time without writing a word. However, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the whole experience didn’t find it’s way into a novel someday.
Till then, wish us luck!