written by GiuliaP

A team building exercise in Venice: a player tells her story


Cristiana and her colleagues at Yous all experienced the Ruyi treasure hunt in Venice on July 25th. It was an intense day planned by the company as a team building exercise, as a way for the employees to enhance group dynamics and have fun at the same time. Here are some excerpts from Cristiana’s story, a thorough account of what took place (thanks, Cristiana!).

The appointment was for 10:00 in the parking lot off the Padova Interporto motorway exit. Everyone answered the roll call – even the interns and temp workers at Yous – dressed informally and looking sporty with tennis shoes on our feet and backpacks strapped our shoulders. In the days leading up to the big event, everyone had been given a steady diet of advice: “Don’t leave your most comfortable shoes at home” (…) and “Make sure your mobile battery is completely charged up”…

No one knew where the event was going to take place or what the test would be like. No one, except the organizers, Carlo, Lisa, Alex and Denis, who had skilfully spread misleading clues here and there over the last few days. Just to keep excitement levels high and throw the nosy ones off…

The bus driver (…) started the engine and we were on our way…until we were held up by a junkie who was about to get squashed under the wheels of the bus in his hurried attempt to hitch a ride. Carlo opened the door for him, listened as the guy begged, and then, pretending he was surprised and amazed, let him get on… Anna, from the Darfo branch, who was the injured member of our group, sat behind him, crutches within reach and ready to strike, just in case the guy tried to make a false move.

Then Francesco the “junkie” asked to speak. “I know I’ve already asked for a lot, you’ve really been very nice to give me a ride… but I’ve got to ask you another favor – let me tell you my story, and you can decide whether you want to help me or not.” Carlo came up to Francesco and pretended to try and take the microphone away from him, asking him to explain exactly what he wanted to tell the team. Then he let go. And so Francesco told us a fantastic tale that goes back to the times of Marco Polo’s travels. He talked about a missing scepter. “God does not want this scepter to fall into the wrong hands!” Francesco exclaimed as he concluded the story. By this time, it was clear that Carlo had fooled us: Francesco was a member of the Log607 staff, the company that organizes treasure hunts. Our adventure had already begun…

We were then divided into five teams: Cannareggio, Dorsoduro, San Marco, San Polo and Castello…

De-coding the first text message that our team leader received – it contained three numbers and three letters, each corresponding to a section of a page on the notebook we were given – sheds light on how to proceed. The codes sent by text, once you’ve de-coded them, let you decipher jumbled historical anecdotes, myths and legends that paint the City of Water’s historical moments. The goal was to get to the place indicated in each anecdote in as little time as possible. Meanwhile, as we made our way to the right location, another text message would come through with a question that one of the teams had to answer about that place, for example, “What Arabic number is inscribed in the stump in front of the portal to the School of Christ?” (…) Following up on the clues we were sent by text, we made our way around the city looking for Arabic or Roman numerals, inscriptions on stumps, antique columns, steles and monograms, keeping track of our path to be able to reconstruct where the precious sword was carried. Each team traversed Venice in a different sequence, following different clues.

Even though the organizers advised us not to run and to enjoy the company and the views that Venice has to offer in abundance, the smell of a challenge and the desire to win guided all of the teams from 11 in the morning until about 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Some took a bit longer, others finished a bit earlier. The only break in the action was a quick lunch. Each team got an envelope with a crossword puzzle and a budget for a meal at one of various eateries: I Rusteghi, the Campiello Remer tavern, la Cantina, il Vecio Fritolin, and Pane e vino San Daniele. (…)

Once a team answered the last question, a text message was sent with the keywords needed to complete the crossword and find directions to take the boat… when the crossword was complete, the remaining letters composed the following sentence: “Go to San Zaccaria, take line twenty and get off at Casinò.”

Here, the desire to finish in the fastest time proved disastrous for one of the teams: before completing the puzzle entirely, but clearly reading the word “casinò,” Dario Mazzoleni’s team asked some Venetians for directions to the casino. The locals promptly gave them accurate directions – to Venice’s winter casino, instead of the  summer casino on the Lido, where they were supposed to go! (…)

Once we had all arrived at the Casinò boat stop on the Lido, one last enigma awaited the groups, all exhausted from the long walk… Carlo, Lisa, Denis and Alex greeted us all – in the meantime, they had gone for a swim and taken in some sun. But they had also kept in touch with the adventures and misadventures, the little victories and the blunders that befell the “castaways” dispersed throughout beautiful Venice…

Finally, a word to the wise from the winning team about the Ruyi experience in Venice: “… we took the map of the city and left it in our pockets the whole time – we decided it was much better to ask Venetians for directions. Who could be better than them at figuring out how to get from one place to another in the city by the shortest route possible?”

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