Vincent Francois has some advice how to win a scavenger hunt:
- Create a team with a wide range of skills. Appeal to a lot of different abilities.
- Be creative and have a fun sense of humor. That’s how you get bonus points and they add up.
- Familiarity with Montreal helps. The more you know, the better off you’re going to be.
- Show a willingness to try anything and possess a sense of adventure. We’ve had people talk their way into Olympic Stadium and the Bell Centre even when they were closed.
Since 2011, Impossible Montreal has been bringing together teams of up to 12 people for its annual hunt themed around Montreal. Starting at the Palais de Congrès, Vincent hands out a list of items that need to be completed. Teams then race off to prove that they have completed their challenges.
“There’s all different things,” he says. “Sing a song. Draw a picture. Take a picture at a certain location. Recreate a scene from a specific movie. Run a fashion shoot in a public location. Give an architectural tour of a metro station. They do these things throughout the weekend. Each one is worth a certain number of points. I update the scoreboard as they score points.”
Vincent doesn’t use specific themes. “I try to make the city the star of the event. I get people to explore the city in ways they haven’t.” He spends the whole year trying to find things out that would work for the hunt. “Last year I found an old abandoned amphitheatre from Expo 67. One of the challenges was to have a picnic there.”
“There are parts of Montreal that people have ignored or forgotten. This city has a lot happening,” he says.
In general, Vincent says that a big team is hard to beat. “Teams divide and conquer to complete the tasks. There were 80 items on last year’s list. I expect the teams to split up. You want to have diverse group that can do different things. You want someone who is good at photography or video, someone who likes crafting, someone who can sing.”
Last year, a few teams almost completed the list of 80. Each year, the number of teams competing has grown.
Although some people join as teams or small groups, individuals can join the scavenger hunt as single entrants. Individuals can be matched with a team or with a bunch of other team-less individuals. “It works for people who are new to town or can’t find someone to sign up with,” he says. “Of course, you can sign up with a friend and we’ll put you together on a team if you want.”
Is anything required? For each team, a smartphone or camera to document each challenge is the main thing. Driving isn’t required, but it helps for a team to have someone who can drive. “I try to make things accessible by Metro,” Vincent says. “Some things can e done at home. I don’t expect people to spend the whole weekend doing it.”
In the end, the teams get together for final challenges. “People have to dress up or bring things. They get on stage and have to perform skits,” Vincent says. “The team with the most points is declared the winner and can brag all year.” Prizes include tickets to the Musee des Beaux Arts and movie tickets. However, the Championship pins are the most coveted prize. “There can only be one winner, one champion,” Vincent affirms.
Vincent runs the event alone. “If it keeps growing, I’ll need to recruit help,” he says.
Vincent confirms that he loves Montreal. “I’m born and raised here and I love scavenger hunt. The University of Chicago has this scavenger hunt and I wished someone would run here, so I might as well do it.”
“I get a huge amount of pleasure from running it, so I’m pretty happy.”
Sign-up for Impossible Montreal end Nov. 2nd and the scavenger hunt takes place Nov 15-17. See http://www.impossiblemontreal.com/ for details. Cost per entrant is $10.