Escape room challenge sparks friendly competition

Zach Trueblood

Staff Writer

A new recreational activity has been sweeping the country. “Escape-rooms” have grown very popular, with many variations throughout the US. The Champaign-Urbana area now has its own escape room challenge named Champaign-Urbana Adventures in Time and Space.

“We wanted to design an experience for people to do a number of random activities. It’s kind of like theatre without the actors,” C-U Adventures in Time and Space co-owner Chris Lukeman stated.

The escape room concept started in the US and there are about 400 across the country with more and more popping up every week. The basis for an escape room is for your team to solve a series of puzzles in order to complete an objective or escape the room.

C-U Adventures in Time and Space boasts a multiple room challenge for those interested. The objective and the challenge itself have a bit of an Indiana Jones theme to them. Teams of two to eight have 60 minutes to complete the game.

“My wife Anne and I are co-owners. We started designing the puzzles for the game about a year ago and were able to open in mid-October,” Lukeman said.

The Lukemans are UIUC graduates. They both share a background in narrative filmmaking and production. Their love for sci-fi and storytelling is present in their escape room challenge. Lukeman felt this to be a great fit for the area and really played to their strengths with storytelling and production.

Photo courtesy of Chris Lukeman | C-U Adventure in Time and Space (Left to right) Zonghui Li, Sarah Powers, Scott Barnes, Adam Vilmin, Billi Jo Hart, Zach Trueblood, Sierra Benson and Matt Moss stand with their totem after completing the game with eight minutes to spare.

Photo courtesy of Chris Lukeman | C-U Adventure in Time and Space
(Left to right) Zonghui Li, Sarah Powers, Scott Barnes, Adam Vilmin, Billi Jo Hart, Zach Trueblood, Sierra Benson and Matt Moss stand with their totem after completing the game with eight minutes to spare.

The escape-room buzz has made its way to Parkland as well. The Student Government presented the idea for a competition amongst various clubs and organizations after President Cedric Jones brought the idea to the table.

“The idea kind of came about when I was looking for different ways to ignite students and different clubs and organizations. We came across the escape room idea, which is a very popular activity across the country,” Jones said.

Jones studies history education and is serving his first term as student government president. He is constantly looking for new and exciting activities to get students involved. Thinking outside of the box is one of his prominent traits.

The thinking outside the box mentality goes hand in hand with the aspects of an escape room. At its core, the game is really a team building exercise.

The C-U Adventures in Time and Space’s website says that it can easily be either a corporate team building exercise or just a fun night out.

These aspects are what drew Jones and the other student government members to create a competition utilizing the escape room concept. Clubs and organizations interested in participating will compare their completion times against each other in a friendly competition. The team with the quickest completion time will gain their club or organization a prize.

“The fun is really in the teamwork and it’s a really good bonding activity. I think it’s really great for us to have that in the beginning of the semester so that groups that are just starting up or have been established for a while can really bond and get to know each other to have a more productive year,” Jones said.

It’s not just students that are taking up this challenge though. A team consisting of student services directors has been assembled and they will be tackling the game as well.

This team consists of Mike Behrens, director of assessment, Bill Colbrook, director of public safety, Mary Catherine Denmark, director of TRiO, Rod Lovett, director of athletics, Julie Marlatt, director of enrollment management, Cathy Robinson, director of disability services, Mike Trame, interim vice president of student services and Tim Wendt, director of enrollment services.

You don’t have to be part of a club or organization to take on the challenging game presented by C-U Adventures in Time and Space. You just need a team of two to eight, but teams with more people are advised. The business is located at 123 West Main Street, Suite 104 in Urbana. They can be contacted at 217-898-7158 or via email at info@cuadventures.com. Visit their website for more information at cuadventures.com.

“It’s a really neat experience. We wanted to provide a great show of solidarity with the students and it’s support for teambuilding as well,” Trame said. “It’s great for students dealing with a club or organization, coming from different disciplines and schedules. It gives you a great opportunity to have fun, gain insights, and hopefully make the organization stronger.”