Want to do the Harlem Shake midday with a group of strangers? Escape those gray cubicle walls in favor of a midair group photo with fellow employees? Meet cityHUNT (cityhunt.org), a team-building scavenger hunt company that’s an antidote to mundane days at dreary desks.
CEO and co-founder Ben Hoffman’s company grew out of experiencing a birthday party pub crawl during his days as an NYU student in 2000, and he has been helping companies (not to mention bachelors, bachelorettes and tourists) get their game on ever since. He says he’s on a mission to change the world into a happier place one scavenger hunt at a time, as well as provide clients with stronger, more meaningful relationships.
On hunts, teammates interact with one another by pounding the pavement and taking photos based on clues. Each hunt is focused on either a neighborhood or a destination such as Grand Central Station or the Museum of Modern Art. Photo tasks range from getting a picture of the entire team mid-air or engaging a stranger with a full sleeve tattoo doing his best Mr. Universe pose. Costs for a hunt range from $60 to $160 per person.
Hoffman enjoys hunts most in the West Village because of its significance in history, culture, politics and education. Its rich lore means that clues and challenges can be mixed with mini lessons. For instance, teams might be told that on Minetta Lane there’s a square named after a father who was a hero in this neighborhood for his work feeding the needy and rescuing people from the great Triangle Fire. They’d then be asked what can’t you do here from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. without a permit? Teams would score points for correctly saying you can’t play music.
The teams also gain points through photos as they answer clues and challenges. The goal, of course, is to earn the most points at during a slideshow capping off the festivities, which are typically at a bar. (The prize after everyone judges the photos? Bragging rights, of course.)
Hoffman says teams unleash their creativity as the one and a half hour to three hour urban adventure unfolds. “Teams have been the most proud when they get a restaurant [to] let them cook in their kitchen or spring a teammate from the trunk of a cab.”
As team spirit escalates (yes, one team actually bedazzled colored bandanas while another decided to sport wigs), Hoffman points out, “The laughter and bonding is priceless.”
Hunts aren’t the only way groups have bolstered team building outside the office. cityHUNT’s high-energy group competition, Who Wants to Win It! is an offshoot of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire meets Minute to Win It. After dividing departments into teams, Hoffman’s team dives into running quizzes on-site in a company’s conference room.
Then there’s the culinary adventure: scavenger hunts with a cucina twist. Kitchen experiences like The Big Apple Tapas Hunt or The Iron Chef Treasure Hunt let teams have their own Mario Batali moment and cook in a professional kitchen.
Whether it’s a cityHUNT scavenger hunt, trivia game or kitchen adventure, the philosophy remains the same. Considering employees spend a lot of their waking hours with co-workers, Hoffman notices a “change in energy and dynamics” among colleagues as the adventures ensue.