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This site represents a strong effort made to give back to all the viewers who are following along on my journey that began in 2021 – my complete transformation from an overweight, sedentary indoorsman…to an adventurous outdoorsman who travels the world. It’s been a difficult journey, filled with challenges, victories and its own share of defeats, as well.

I’m incredibly grateful for each supporter of my journey and look forward to growing together as we all take on the life challenges we feel destined for. I found mine…and who knows…maybe here you’ll be inspired to find one of your own!

Additionally once things get going, we’ll be launching a series of polls to allow you a chance to offer your input into future videos!

When I was 10 years old I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in the movie theater…and that single event changed the course of my entire life. I was so enthralled with the concept of digging up archaeological treasures that I began creating my own elaborate treasure hunts (for my younger brother.) The years leading up to college were filled with learning how to make historical treasure hunts on a grander scale, creating a variety of props and writing storylines so that my adventures weren’t simple treasure hunts…they were actual adventures for people to go on.

I struggled in college to find a ‘treasure hunt design’ major 🙂 – I tried theater arts, studio art, archaeology/anthropology and more. I finally got a degree in Art History. I graduated and started my own company Quest Experiences. Since then (1995) I’ve helped folks find lost golden idols in a true Indiana Jones fashion, seek out the Holy Grail like an actual knight and even hunt for vampires in an old Transylvanian town….I even helped someone live out the life of Batman for the day (long story…)

Once my sons were born I refocused my attention on creating smaller adventures online so that I could stay home to be with them. Although perhaps it wasn’t the most lucrative decision, it’s one I could never regret!

Creating adventures is my passion – and yet there was a huge irony to the whole story. I’ve studied art history from all over the world and have taken college coursework in multiple languages (German, French, Japanese and Koine Greek)…but never hardly ever traveled ANYWHERE outside of a few US states. I longed to see the world and go off on my own adventures but instead devoted my life to creating ‘fictional adventures’ for others.

Finally I came to my senses, you might say, and decided to make a radical decision to completely change not just my lifestyle but MYSELF along the way. The Adventure Forward video series chronicles that journey (the first episode offers more details as to my very humble beginning.

My goal is NOT to make cosmetic changes…but changes deep on the inside as a man. Can someone really change who they are? Just because I drop a few pounds and learn to camp or travel to a few countries, is that really change? What more has to happen to make the changes more honest and genuine? It’s a grand experiment…and one that I’m loving!

(As mentioned earlier, there are actually two different video series:)

Adventure Forward
– The series that is chronicling my progress from the first day where I begin the process without even a plan yet to present

Keeping Up With Quinn – A fictional adventure serial about a man (me) who stumbles across the QAS via a series of treasure hunt clues left by his dead uncle. (This series was created as a way to stay motivated on my journey – it was an idea I had to create the series where I could IMAGINE that I was becoming someone else…and way to change my thinking as I played the part in the story!)

The following is an exhaustive list (as much as possible) of the different treasure hunts I’ve created over the past several decades. It serves as a reference for this site for both me (as I continually add more content, I’ll likely be referring to different designs and productions from this list) as well as for others, hoping that others will be inspired by my list to pick up where I might have left off. Many of the hunts and adventures I detailed below were facilitated multiple times for different groups/clients. However, each one is only listed once in the decade that it was FIRST designed and facilitated. Some of the hunts listed will involve obvious coprighted themes (i.e. Star Wars, etc.) These particular hunts are adventures I did for family and/or friends outside of my business (just for fun because I really wanted to work with a specific theme.) There are likely more hunts that I’ve created over the years than what I’ve listed below, these were just the ones that I could remember, had photos for or could find evidence of in my filing cabinet.

Even though I was quite young in the 80s (ages 10-20), it was after seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1980 that I began to design hunts. I didn’t include the countless small hunts I did for my younger brother and prom dates over the years, only the ones of significance design-wise – ones that altered my design or ones that allowed me to originate new formats.

(PLEASE NOTE: Not all of the hunts and adventures listed have descriptions next to them. Building this list will be an ongoing project (unfortunately, much of the details are lost as I don’t have all written materials that have survived (before computers) and others I simply cannot remember very well, sadly.

  • 1980s
  • Backyard hunts – Though several were set up for my brother during these years, the most noteworthy one was based on Peg Leg Pete’s Treasure. I had just seen the movie Goonies and I was hooked. Had never put so much effort into a treasure hunt in the backyard as this one up to this point. Used the hose to create a waterfall, to grab a key behind it. Also included more than one booby trap (that worked). Realized at this time the importance of written materials. Still have the originals and gave my brother the map as a wedding gift (one of our fondest memories together).
  • Prom and High School Dance hunts – Various throughout the city. Experimented with different types of puzzles and made a TON of mistakes (i.e. Burying something while kids were watching.) Learned that at all costs I couldn’t create a treasure hunt with a potential broken link
  • Disneyland hunts I would do for my brother every year – Passionate about Disneyland (had even built one in my backyard.) Every year I would take my younger brother and I would create a hunt for him (easier once I worked there while in high school.) I began to use storylines at this time (not stories that I had written – but ones from the movies.) My own stories would come later.
  • Murder Mystery parties and experiences Incredibly fascinated with Murder Mysteries, especially after seeing the movie Clue. Loved it! Read many Agatha Christie books at this time – put my treasure hunting away. I mention them here because it was creating these murder mystery parties where I began to work with live characters as part of the adventure. My guests had to interact with each other and ‘plants’ that I had at the party. I really saw the potential for working with characters in a hunt. Also coordinated and facilitated a murder mystery that last for several months among 20 of my friends at school. Each person ‘died’ one at a time until there was only one survivor.
  • 1990s
  • Many different treasure hunts were set up in my early 20’s as inexpensive dates. These were numerous,short, typically with a Disney theme and likely not worth fully detailing. They are included here because it was by trying to do several for the same person (that person being my wife now who was and is extremely intelligent) that I got practiced at creating puzzles that were the desired difficulty levels (i.e. Not too easy…not too difficult)
  • Indiana Jones College Adventure Hunt. This was a large Indiana Jones themed treasure hunt I planned for over 100 college students. I made grail diaries for each team to use throughout the city. It took an entire year to design. I had a mini stunt show to start it off. Each team had to travel to different locations to interact with different villains from the movies. This is the first time that I used a cast for a treasure hunt. I also attempted to create a hunt that was so difficult that only one team would likely finish. As it would have it…only one team out of over 25 completed it successfully. Although it was the most impressive hunt I had designed up to that point…I knew that I would never do an adventure so difficult like that again. It took the fun out of it for too many.
  • Continued and more elaborate hunts for my brother at Disneyland. The Disneyland hunts continued and began incorporating characters to speak to at Public phones (characters.) Also used a book I had bound with all the stories and puzzles included. (This predated my Indiana Jones College Adventure – this book inspired me to create the grail diaries for that.)
  • My brother’s 18th birthday – he was Batman for the day. When my brother graduated from high school I set it up for him to be Batman for the day. He had to gather clues around the city set by Catwoman and The Riddler (characters he interacted with – friends that I got to volunteer.) This one was more immersive as I met a stuntman that was in the Jim Carey/Riddler movie (which came out on the day I set up the hunt for him) who drove my brother off the road during the adventure and warned him as Mr. Wayne to leave well enough alone. This hunt adventure had a definite storyline from beginning to end. It wasn’t about a bunch of smaller stories (like the Disneyland ones). It was an immersive experience that actually started two days before by meeting one of the characters who approached him as Bruce Wayne at a restaurant. This, along with my Indiana Jones College Adventure, solidified the conviction that all future hunts will have live characters to interact with.
  • College Treasure Hunt for over 200 throughout the county. This was the largest hunt I had done to this point. Well over 200 college students. I incorporated ‘booby traps’ in the forms of potential ways for participants to cheat (and punished if they did.) If they did, they would leave with the wrong information. Learned a LOT about how to handle cheating, rules, and facilitating larger groups etc. This was the first time I did the driver’s licenses in envelopes strategy. As a special fun note, I created a small box maze at one location. They had to crawl through, right past a moving wall. Only on their way back did they encounter the wall removed. It was fun to watch, but frustrating for the participants.
  • Progressive Dinners. Utilizing the established format of having different courses in different homes where the participants travel from home to home for appetizers, salad, main course and finally dessert. I incorporated treasure hunt clues and puzzles for the participants so they could figure out where to go next in the chain. It was fun, but made it unpredictable when guests would arrive, causing frustration on behalf of the hosts for the meal course. Did a few and then never again.
  • Night of the Ghosts. A ghost adventure for over 400 people on Halloween at a park. I hid 20 ghosts throughout the park that teams had to find (volunteers in costumes – ghosts from all periods in history.) Once found, teams had to figure out (by interacting with them) how to get them resolved with their previous life to help them ‘move on.’ Zombies were also stationed throughout the park. If you get touched by a zombie, you were penalized. Learned a lot about crowd control. However, what I learned the most was how powerful it was to create an adventure with an element of ‘fear’ involved (i.e. The zombies chasing them.) This element would be included in every adventure following (in different forms)
  • Sinking of the SS Dark Fortune. Another large scale adventure in a warehouse, this time the pirate’s town of Tortuga (before the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were released.) Teams had to figure out how to break into the jail to speak to a prisoner while avoiding drunk pirates. In this adventure I began introducing characters that were NOT a part of the story, but rather were there to only add atmosphere to the environment. This was the first (and last) time I had an adventure with an anticlimactic ending. I thought that it was amusing…but nobody else did. Lesson learned. Also first and last time I laid out a maze as the overall floorplan for the playing area/town. It took too long for the teams to go from location to location. It was at this time that I began perfecting my technique for aging paper – something that I still use to this day.
  • Nosferatu (both full and ‘lite’ versions.) This was a large scale adventure for a warehouse and the first large adventure under my new company, Quest Experiences (my brother and I launched it in 1995.) This was a landmark adventure because we used costumes, actors, props, lighting, fog machines and original music (composed by my brother) to create a Transylvanian town to interact with. There were vampires who would chase you…and others who would help you. This ‘quest’ (as we came to call them from this point on) was the first full immersive story adventure. By the end, the participants felt like they were in an actual movie, creating the story as they went. It remains to this day my favorite. Later, a ‘lite’ version was created that could be done with smaller groups and in smaller spaces. A downloadable version was launched online many years later. This one was also the first NON linear treasure hunt. The participants knew the tasks they needed to complete and completed them in the order of their choice (a bit like three smaller hunts – quests given by NPC’s…before MMO’s had been heard of.) Also first and last time I experimented with tying teams together as they explored the town.
  • Zorro. Was hired to create a Zorro adventure for a corporate Cinco de Mayo party. This one was fully created and set up. However, an actor didn’t show up and due to other mishaps in my planning, I was forced to give a refund and apologize. I was embarrassed and learned a valuable lesson about staffing…and the consequences of a flawed design where the hunt can’t be completed. That mistake would never be repeated.
  • CSI Experience. A woman was very much into CSI (the original TV series) and as a gift I donated an adventure for her party where she and the guests had to solve a murder mystery by doing research and examining an actual body (a volunteer who was made up with makeup, etc.) I experimented with incorporating research as part of the adventure (players had to read up on some science to know how to get clues from the dead body including measuring the length of the fake maggots on the body.) Although I enjoyed creating it, it was more reading than many of the guests cared for. Learned that participants don’t like to read…
  • The Holy Grail Adventure Quest. This one has a Part I and a Part II. Part I involved a private party – a wedding anniversary at a large home. Brought in characters and scenery. This one was unique in that the ending was as though they lost (trapped in a dungeon cell and left.) Once they overheard a comment from the dungeon keeper, IF they remembered the character they spoke to then they knew just what to say to the dungeon keeper to get him to release them…and he knew where the grail was. Every team figured it out and I learned about providing opportunities for the teams to deduce story elements and not just hand them the answers. In Part II, I was hired to do a fund raising event for the American Heart Association at a large mansion. It was a huge cast (20+) and many of them were not a part of the adventure at all, merely characters walking around adding depth to the environment and comedic breaks. These were much appreciated – some guests though were having more fun with these NPC’s and would follow them around to watch their antics. The comedy added depth, but it took away from the feel of the adventure itself.
  • To Catch a Cat. The first time doing a hunt for people that I didn’t know. It was Disney focused and donated to a friend’s family. I learned that it’s best to understand the participants before designing the hunt – to know their mobility, interest levels and dynamics.
  • Bones of Jinja. This was my first attempt at creating an adventure with props that is mailed to someone with which I would have no contact with. The instructions would have had to have been detailed enough to be set up, but simple enough to be understood. First time experimented with sculpting molds with poured plaster for props (something that would be used much more in the future.) It involved a lost professor in Africa – in the story his niece hires the teams to find him. These were sold online during the early days of the Internet.
  • Zabamba Expedition. An extension of the Bones of Jinja. I used different props and elaborated more on the story. The instructions were also much easier to follow. I assumed with the Bones of Jinja that customers would want flexibility to ‘do their own thing’. However, the Zabamba Expedition remake was created without the flexibility for much easier set up.
  • 2000s
  • Operation: Red Exit Adventure (a war themed adventure at an all men’s event.) Experiemented with the dynamics of an individual team. Early on in the adventure, one of the team members is ‘shot’. From that point on, each team had to complete their adventure with a wounded soldier. The theme was set to a ‘spy’ theme (no combat.) This included crossing country borders past checkpoints, etc. Also, played with the notion of leaving a different member behind (at one point a character/volunteer I had pointed a fake gun at each team and held one member captive until the other teammates returned with the information he needed – the other teammates had to return within 10 minutes are their teammate would be “shot” and the team would be disqualified.)
  • Email spy adventure. Experiemented with an adventure conducted PURELY by email. I created multiple email accounts (early 2001) and played all the characters myself. There were puzzles to solve in order to continue with the adventure. It was a lot of fun, but time consuming to keep in contact with all the participants. Would likely enjoy doing this again, but only when I have others who could play the characters.
  • Ultimate Treasure Hunts – ebook. This one is included because when I launched my Quest Experiences website, I sold as my first download an ebook detailing how to create an adventure of your own. Although it stepped through the process in detail, it revealed that the vast majority of people were overwhelmed in creating quests of their own on that magnitude. I pulled the product and began offering more ‘ready made’ digital items. Also included in this download was a sample mini adventure – one that was purely role playing…and for only one person to participate in. A scene was set up where the player was to deliver a stolen painting to a dirty art dealer. But, they find out on the spot that the painting they stole was a fake and they have to figure out how to get out of the situation alive. It was a unique mini adventure to create.
  • UPDATE (February 2024): The book was rewritten and updated and can now be ordered on Amazon in print and in Kindle versions entitled EPIC TREASURE HUNT ADVENTURES by Joe Dean.
  • Movie Adventures. In an effort to create unique puzzle experiences for others online, I released a few downloadable stories where the clues to the puzzles were contained WITHIN a specific movie. The participants needed to complete the 4-5 page story while they enjoyed watching the movie. Assuming they found all the clues, they would be able to solve the larger puzzle within that story. Four were completed for the following movies: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and A Chrsitmas Story.
  • Prereader puzzles. These were an experimental product line I released with a half dozen themes. They came from numerous requests I received from customers online hoping to find something for their younger children…those who couldn’t really read. The hunts involved using only images in fun and creative ways. Although they were what my customers wanted, I realized that they were just too far away from what I wanted to create. I stopped the creation of additional themes and eventually pulled the collection entirely.
  • Jedi Summer Program with The Trials. It was a rainy Summer with three young sons and a lot of work to do at home (I was working out of my home.) I created a weekly adventure – with missions assigned by Yoda (my sons were all avid Star Wars fans.) Included were tasks that involved reading, chores…but also video games and other activities like creating their own light sabers out of metal pipes (they were AWESOME!) At the end of the Summer, assuming they had completed enough missions, I took them on a three day “Trials” as mentioned in the Star Wars movie. They solved puzzles, explored dark parks in the middle of the night in the rain and went on a several mile hike the next day. I thought it would help distract them while I worked and ended up being something that consumed my Summer hours, as well. I don’t regret it. Sometimes you do things just because you’re a dad.
  • Lord of the Rings party – My oldest son wanted a Lord of the Rings birthday party so I created a mini adventure where he and his friends formed The Fellowship of the Ring. I detail this one because I chose to focus mostly on activities versus puzzles. They were all young boys who wanted something active. It gave me a chance to think differently – my first ‘activity based’ hunt, if you will.
  • Dice Adventure Game at Walt Disney World (a series of dice games that would keep my young boys occupied while we waited in the long lines at the Walt Disney World parks.) I made small little books (that they shared) based on different Disney stories – they each had a small box and a couple of dice with them at all times in their pocket. They had to get certain dice combinations into order to ‘defeat’ the different Disney villains. Worked WAY better than I could have hoped for.
  • Star Wars birthday – Clone Wars Adventure
  • Adventure Nights (full adventures with my sons over a 10 year span)
  • Scooby Doo
  • Several Star Wars
  • Kingdom Hearts
  • Indiana Jones (Coronado and others)
  • Goonies style one in Idyllwild
  • Large Church Halloween Party. Although I don’t do many scavenger hunts, I did have fun creating this one for a large Halloween party (over 150 people.) This was unique because I incorporated a lot of my quest-type activities in the hunt. For example, you got points for finding a skeleton ring. What I did was I gave a handful of skeleton rings to someone at the party who was always wearing only ONE at any given time. It was worth a lot of points so guests were looking hard for it. When they found it on someone’s finger they would ask for it…but this person would only give it to them if they retrieved a few other items for them. There were other items like this where obtaining the item itself took some problem solving in ‘layers’
  • Preteen Super Hero experience (two installments – faced off against the Deceiver and the Discourager)
  • Spy Adventure – a large singles event at a church (over 100 participants)
  • Adventures converted to downloadable digital products              
  • Quest for the Holy Grail
  • Night of the Ghosts
  • Nosferatu
  • Scavenger Hunt List Collections (over 10 different themed digital downloads)
  • Da Vinci Code treasure hunt involving examining different Renaissasnce paintings and finding clues to figure out the different locations in the hunt.
  • Da Vinci Code Team Building Adventure – colaborated with Sense of Delight Team Buildings to create a team building adventure based on the top selling book and movie.
  • Lost Hiker Adventure – Another colaboration with Sense of Delight. This involved looking for a lost hiker in the woods (actually took place in the different state parks, etc.)
  • Gilligin themed team building (another colaboration based on trying to get supplies needed to get off a deserted island.)
  • Multi-Adventure Pirate Experience (designed for a physical entertainment facility.) Was never used, but gave me the experience of attempting to create several different adventures that would be simultaneously conducted in the same space and the same characters.
  • Solo Hunt (Javascript adventure based on Star Wars Episode VI)
  • Video Game invitations (products where invitations for parties were embedded within short video game experiences – the party guests had to go through the dungeon in order to get the party details. These were sold online)
  • Created a new product line – Treasure Hunt Puzzles Packages (basically ‘legos’ type of products – puzzles that could be used to build your own treasure hunt.) To the following themes:
  • In Search of a Home (Space)
  • Return to Mt. Keahi (Hawaiian Luau)
  • The Trail of the Wolfman
  • Monster Adventure Treasure Hunt
  • Christmas Treasure Hunt
  • Old West
  • The Sinking of the SS Dark Fortune (Pirates)
  • Lost in Africa
  • Classic Hollywood
  • A Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving
  • American Revolution
  • 1950s
  • St. Patrick’s Day
  • Lost & Found Under the Big Top
  • The Rose
  • Operation Safehouse (Spy)
  • Ultimate Easter Egg Hunts
  • 2010s
  • Jumanji Party
  • Snow White Experience
  • Princess Experience
  • Disneyland Adventure Challenge – WDW
  • Destined for Greatness – Super Hero Adventure (was going to be a series)
  • Bible Based adventure online based on the old testament
  • The Great Race (very large car rally with teens)
  • Skyrim Party adventure
  • Son’s Jr. High – Revolutionary War (two separate years) – based on the US Constitution
  • Stele of Khafre
  • Super Hero Young Adventure
  • Discovery of the XT-99 (space themed adventure)
  • RPG Puzzles (dungeons)
  • Puzzles with Game Magazine
  • Force Sensitive adventure
  • Disney Springs Scavenger Hunt
  • Son’s spy training birthday
  • Large teen event (150+ teens) – based on the game of CLUE. Converted the very large hotel room into a humungous CLUE board.
  • Bible based hunt involving drawings
  • The Game (Men’s Day)
  • Night of the Ghosts (Teens version)
  • Super Hero Mad Skillz Night
  • Van Helsing (teen event – monsters video game)
  • Sherlock Holmes party
  • Hunt for a Werewolf Adventure (son’s birthday)
  • Theme Park Challenge (elaborate scavenger hunts to be completed at different theme parks – over 100 versions.)
  • Zoo Challenges (elaborate scavenger hunts to be completed at different zoos – over 125 versions)
  • University Challenges (elaborate scavenger hunts to be completed at different universities – over 400 different versions created.)
  • Literary Monsters scavenger hunt – Created a short treasure hunt that involved literature as the clues. Different novels were stationed around a Halloween party (Frankenstein, Dracula, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.) Those wishing to try and get through the hunt and to pull clues from the actual novels discover where to go next. Although I loved the idea, the thought of reading books wasn’t a thrilling thought for all party guests. Will reserve this type of activity for those that I know who love to curl up to a good book.
  • 2020s
  • Marco Polos (cities and generic) – Developed the most elaborate hunt to date that was specifically desgined to be set up by someone else. It included an ongoing Choose Your Adventure Story (more than 40 pages) that wove itself into a treasure hunt a customer could easily set up for someone else. It also included props (paper and plaster) that were used to solve the puzzles in the story. The story itself revolved around retracing the steps of Marco Polo to find some precious gems that he may or may not have left behind.
  • UPDATE: This adventure was later adapted to incorporate a scavenger hunt adventure in different cities (over 600 variations was created.) The original design was used as a base to adapt and create specific mini missions to take on in the city.
  • RPG Puzzles (Pulp) – Developed a collection of puzzles that were designed to be incorporated into a pulp adventure role playing game. Five different puzzles were created with separate clues designed to be awarded to players according to the success of their roles. This represents more experimentation into the possible transitioning into RPG design.
  • Various dice rolling games on Drive Thru RPG – Experimented with a variety of solo Choose Your Own Adventure style simple stories that required dice rolling as part of the game play (so that it could be replayed.) Subsequently have begun a long term project of developing a full book length version including logic puzzles to help make the best choices in the story.
  • Christmas Star Wars hybrid with an RPG experience – Experimented with a cross between a Quest and a Role Playing Game. My three sons (then all barely now in their 20’s) celebrated Christmas with us. I DM’d a one shot role playing game session based on the Star Wars Universe. However, I spent MANY hours putting together ‘space craft parts’ from boxes and spare parts I could muster together. I hooked them up with different colored wires and attached them to different boxes. We although much of the activity was roleplaying a Star Wars themed RPG, I broke out of the game at one point when they had to make modifications to their space craft. At this time they each had manuals that I created and hat to go to different parts of our home (where the different ‘mechanisms’ were that they had to modify.) According to their manuals, different switches had to be flipped and certain wires had to be cut and reattached to other connectors. That would have been too easy, though. I made it so that they needed to communicate with each other as they were going. For example, one son had to cut a red wire or a green wire…but that depended on whether or not the hyperdrive was connected to the main thrusters (which was another part of the ship where another son was.) They were calling out different questions to each other to get readings, etc. So that they could each do their parts correectly. It was an experiement that I’ve been stewing on for over a decade where an entire activity would be based off this concept. I learned that it was more difficult to design than I thought…and easier for them to accomplish than I anticipated.