A Threat to America is gaining strength very near this place, and our country is in need of your help.
So begins RevQuest, Colonial Williamsburg’s modern treasure hunt that immerses you in the history of the American Revolution and puts you in the center of the action as a spy.
To participate in RevQuest, you need a phone with texting ability. Pick up your “orders” at any ticketing location – the game is included with your paid admission to Colonial Williamsburg – and wrap the black kerchief around your arm. Text SPY to the number given in your orders and you are instantly connected to the Screenmaster who will be your guide throughout your mission.
I played RevQuest with my nine-year-old daughter, and while my teenager initially scoffed, he and my husband were quickly drawn in. A challenging sequence of finding clues and decoding them, the game takes you down side streets and into areas of Colonial Williamsburg you might otherwise bypass.
Joining the Secret Society
We met the Sentinel, a Friend of America, and were admitted to the Crossbones Club meeting only after asking the secret question, “How do Americans pay their way?” The mission was explained and we were off looking for clues.
Here is a quote from our orders: “Our Friends have risked their Lives to obtain intelligence of the location and nature of the gathering Threat to America. Your plan of operation will commence when you depart from the Sentinel, carrying with you a captured map that includes notations pointing the way to the Threat. The meanings of the notations can only be understood by breaking the ciphers in a Dispatch intercepted from our enemies.”
This was no joke. I was swept up in Revolutionary spy fever.
We recognized other Friends of America by the black & white ribbons they wore, but had to approach them carefully and quietly so as not to expose the Society. To progress through the game, we were instructed to use some of the “newest” ciphering techniques of the day: book, wheel, and numeric. Educational and exciting, using the ciphers taught us about the different ways sensitive information was exchanged in colonial times. When answers were uncovered, we texted the Screenmaster who informed us of our success (or failure) and gave us the next order.
If you want to be truly surprised by your adventure, skip to the next paragraph. I can’t stress enough how riveting this game is. Just when we thought we had completed the mission, it was revealed that we’d been played by the British! At the final checkpoint, something seemed amiss. My feelings were confirmed when a British redcoat appeared and thanked us for our service! Fortunately, we were able to make up for our mistake by continuing on with a new mission. The game feels very real – I was actually shaking a bit from the shock knowing “what I had done” for the redcoats!
Accomplishing Your Mission
We were told the mission would take about two hours. We watched a brief reenactment and stopped for lunch, but it took us nearly four hours, so be sure to start early in the day and stay focused on your task.
We finished the mission and received a special RevQuest medallion, along with a password to access the Screenmaster online for additional tasks after leaving Williamsburg. A new mission is created each year – we are already looking forward to our return trip.
RevQuest brings the whole family together. Whether it’s reading maps, decoding clues, or finding hidden dispatches, it often took the four of us putting our heads together to discover an answer. Don’t miss out on the challenge and intrigue of the game when you visit Colonial Williamsburg.
Disclosure: Thank you to Colonial Williamsburg for providing my family with complimentary admission. All opinions are my own.
Shannon Entin, Travel Writer
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