In a matter of three months, Jerry Braun had been a participant in four different Escape rooms.
Three of the four ended in a successful completion of the popular group game that has swept across the country.
Locked in a room for one hour, the goal of the escape room is the group must use the elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles to complete the mission. The work put into the puzzle by the group, that can vary in size, can be done as a team-building experiment or just a fun way of trying to complete a mystery. It’s a matter of the team of people working together through a set of clues that are in the room.
For Braun, a gifted education teacher at Hays Middle School who had taken part in escape rooms in Denver and Salina, the experience was one he enjoyed so much, he believed it was something that would work in Hays. As it would turn out, his sisters — Janet Giersch and Judy Brummer — were interested in helping. So, too, was Giersch’s daughter, Emily Nuttle.
“I thought it was a good idea,” Giersch said of when her brother brought the idea to them. “Hays needs something like this. There’s just not anything for people like college kids to do. I mean, something other than they can go to a movie.”
Braun had his sisters and niece sold on the idea at Christmas when he had their entire family take part in three different puzzle type exercises he came up with. In early January, the family members were able to find a business suite in Hays at 2703 Hall No. 6 that would fit perfect for the project. The name of their escape room business is Extreme Escape.
“It gives you something to do at a higher intellectual level a little bit,” Brummer said. “It challenges you maybe a little more mentally than some of the other activities that are around.”
The building space includes three offices and a conference room.
The offices will be used for each of the different mysteries, and the conference room can be used by groups for different things. There will be an electric clock on the wall used for a countdown, and participants will be able to ask for a few clues. Each room will have a surveillance camera in it.
Since announcing they will be opening the escape room, Braun said the response from the community has been good. They have received a lot of interest from people.
“I’ve not heard anybody that has had lukewarm feelings about it,” Braun said. “They’ve all been very supportive and excited about it. On Facebook and a little bit of word of mouth to friends is really all we’ve done. People just seem eager.”
So far, Braun has created two escape rooms, one is nearly complete and the other is written up, but needs the props. The rooms will have different levels of complexity and toughness. A Marilyn Monroe case that involves solving how she died has a difficulty level of moderate/hard and will be the first room available. The second room will have a Wizard of Oz theme.
Braun has written up everything as far as clues for both. If the family members want, they also can purchase different escape room cases. The recommendation is for individuals 12 and older.
A soft opening for friends and family will be available by invitation the first weekend of March, then an opening for the public is tentatively set for March 10 to 11. Reservations for a room will be available online at www.extreme-escape.com.
“I think this first one is going to be really good,” Braun said. “I’m pretty excited about it.”
Anyone younger than 18 will have to have a liability waiver signed by a parent before participating. The waivers can be printed from the Extreme-Escape webpage and be brought in and signed.