Sunday, January 18, 2009

The GHI's of Treasure Hunting - "I"

"I" is for "Investing"

This topic is probably more of a curiosity to those who don't hunt often, as regulars would already be aware of the pains and gains of treasure hunting every weekend. It may also be of interest to those who are contemplating their sustainability of their interest in this game. How about those family members who have always been curious about their partners' weekend adventures? This may not be about "the things you always wanted to know but dare not ask", but I hope it proves to be more motivational than otherwise.

Life is about enjoying every moment and not thinking about enjoying every moment. Treasure hunting offers moments to enjoy some aspects of life that you won't find in other sports. In which sport, would you find 4 people of unpredictable personalities cramped together in a car for 5 hours a day traveling on an "unknown" journey to a destination that may be new to most and solving problems together on the fly - like taking exams?

And in those hours together, they have to work with each other as though their lives, and to say the least, their reputations, depend on it. It is a journey where they risk exposing their "true colours" and "intellectual attributes". The good news is, it stays within the A-and-B-frames of the car for at least the day - no telling that one of the "personalities" may decide to "kiss and tell" in Facebook or the likes of it! Is it all worth it?

Let's examine what one really invests in for a treasure hunt.

The most obvious is MONEY. It is never free. Some amount of spending will be required by each person even if the entry fees are waived.

For a local hunt, the entry fee is usually the main chunk of it. Then comes the shared expenses - petrol, wear & tear cost for the use of the "hunting car" being the most part of it. Then comes the purchase of treasures. Let's take a typical KL hunt and break the expenses down and see what they look like:

(For the whole team of 4 persons):
Distance covered (depends of course on the shuttle services one provides from home to home):
1. Fee : RM300 (71%)
2. Petrol : RM80 (20%)
3. Mileage (say 50km) : RM20 (5%)
4. Treasures : RM10 (2%)
5. Others : RM10 (2%)

I ignored the shared meals that the team enjoys as such meals are incurred even if one is not hunting. Maybe just a tad more.

Total : RM420

Other than the fees, the other expenses, RM120, actually make up only about 30% of expenses.

Per person, that works out to be about RM105 for the total or an additional RM30 to the fees.

For out of town hunts, it typically looks like this (of course depends on the town). Here I use, Melaka - the most popular destination for two years running - 2007/2008:
1. Fee : RM480 (50%)
2. Petrol : RM150 (16%)
3. Mileage : RM240 (25%)
4. Toll : RM70 (7%)
5. Treasures : RM10 (1%)
6. Others : RM10 (1%)

Total : RM960

That's typically about RM240 per person. The san-fee figure is about 50%.

The fees can be viewed as membership to the hunt and for the rights to play (like green fees). Usually fees include some complimentary items and a meal or two. The quantity, type and quality is dependent on how much the organisers could afford to "invest" in these areas and also how much sponsorship they could garner.

When there are sponsors, the goodies are more and better and often include some gear such as t-shirts or caps. If a petrol company is involved, we can look forward to petrol vouchers or cash subsidies. More elaborate meals (like a 15 course buffet or sit-down dinner, free flow of drinks & sometimes wine) can be expected if a reputable hotel is involved.

If hotel stays are included, that is typically worth RM100+ per person and includes a welcome drink, dinner and a breakfast, plus the use of all free facilities in the hotel often, including a free copy of the Star or NST.

If the hunt is organised to help a charity - the entire entry fee is usually donated towards the charity - or in the case where sponsors make donations directly to the charity, your fees will be to cover expenses by the organisers.

And then there are hunts where the entry fee is not required - just your "30%" to "50%".

So, you see, although your investment appears high for a day's fun - you are getting quite a lot in return - so all in all - a nice, worthwhile deal for a few moments of unique life experiences.

You will then ask if it is worth investing your TIME in treasure hunts.

Treasure hunt brings together people from many walks of life to challenge each other in a non-threatening environment where the only people who can defeat you is yourself. There is usually nothing you can or want to do to affect the fate of others. The destiny is literally in your own hands.

What value you get out of it is of course relative to your other priorities in life. For the non-competitive, it is an inexpensive, alternative, unique holiday outing. For the competitive regulars and masters - it is more than a holiday - it is one of the most exciting way to get away from the corporate world. While in some ways it does require using skills typical of a corporate world, the non-threatening environment makes the deployment of similar skills more enjoyable and natural.

Time is also spent before a hunt. Preparation is important if one is competitive or just want to improve your chances of doing reasonably well in the final standings (recognition). Time is spent by members in short meetings at kopitiams, bistros or fast-food outlets to do "revisions" of past questions or to discuss strategies, and sometimes just practising to train those who are weaker. Research is another typical preparation activity. Surfing all relevant sites to gather notes to bring along during the hunt.

It is also not uncommon for newbies to engage the services of masters to coach them. The time spent by both are appreciated all around - as they offer learning opportunities for both sides.

Post-hunt "post-mortems" are also typical of the more serious hunters. They will try to analyse where they could have done better individually and as a team. They will ask "masters" for their opinions and also for "tips and hints" to help them improve. They will spend time to study the points discussed in blogs and forums and share them with the team. Improving themselves game by game.

It is also no wonder that companies organise and sponsor treasure hunts as part of their corporate annual events. The team-building, leadership sharpening, personal development (brain storming, problem solving, research, effective communication) and management skill honing opportunities such games bring to their employees are worth the investment in human development.

It is also no wonder that "employees" feel they could perform better during a treasure hunt than at the office! The relaxed atmosphere empowers them to think, express and share openly! Of course, these are all not wasted - what one learns cannot be forgotten, and they take back with them - a sharper mind, a renewed confidence. Treasure hunts become "test beds" for those who look to improving their individual and team skills.

During the course of the hunt - many situations will arise where opinions will be openly debated. The skills of each individual to be able to discuss issues maturely, sensitively and openly makes each person a better one. Yes, it is true - some will never learn and prefer not to learn. Then it becomes the opportunities for lessons to the others to deal with the situations created by the "difficult behaviours".

Team members will evolve as the team tries to find the compatible mix - something that the corporate world may not offer. Treasure hunts thus offers the chances for people to experience and experiment to develop the best team at your own pace.

So, if treasure hunts offer so many opportunities for self improvement in so many areas - it has to be worth the time.

Treasure hunts has impact on RELATIONSHIPS too - an investment that you are offered at your disposal. It is mostly positive. If one is determined to have friends and to socialise well, the attitude will be to use treasure hunts positively. Some personalities do not suit the game and in those rare occasions, relationships fail. The good news is, whoever are left in the game - the regulars - they build relationships very well - overcoming some of the more testing challenges collectively and coming out of them even stronger. It is therefore important for all of us to be aware of this "risk" and to help new comers realise and deal with these early.

Family members who do not get involved directly (best if they do) also need to appreciate the "investments" made by their partners. The support when well placed can be very motivating and can affect the performance of the more competitive regulars.

Two of our team members met during treasure hunts and are now married to each other! This year, will be my 17th year in treasure hunting - and I am proud to say that my best friends were met during treasure hunts and my happiest moments (other than my marriage and birth of my two lovely girls) were from treasure hunts! I have never experienced a faster growth of my circle of friends then when I joined treasure hunting regularly! I have never appeared in the mass media more often too (even group photos count!). All that has to be good for my social life!

For those who have decided to pursue this game regularly - as a new found past-time or hobby, they will also invest in RESOURCES. Like those for all good hobbies, the investment can be substantial.

The "clubs" for treasure hunting used to be mainly reference books - fat dictionaries, thesauruses, single volume encyclopedias, almanacs, books of records, atlases and specialist books (botany, fruits, wines, etc). Today, a notebook or a pda-phone with internet access features are fast becoming a very common replacement for all of that. Mobility technology is made for treasure hunts! Treasure hunts have evolved in tandem with technological advancements.

Some will also subscribe to data services (Celcom, Digi and Maxis) ranging from RM8 per month to RM138 per month! Googling is a vital "club".

The good news is that these investments are capital that never depletes. Although their book value may not appreciate, the return on investment is always positive and growing. Even if one decides to stop hunting - the investment can be re-channeled to other new found hobbies or uses - unlike golf clubs (maybe they make good garden props!).

That's "I" ... it is hoped that those who have never had looked at going beyond an inexpensive holiday will find new insights into the positive values and motivations that the MONEY, TIME, RELATIONSHIPS and RESOURCES invested in regular treasure hunts will bring.

Looking forward to seeing you again soon and often, my friends!


Cornelius Koh said...

"Treasure hunt brings together people from many walks of life to challenge each other in a non-threatening environment where the only people who can defeat you is yourself... The destiny is literally in your own hands."

I don't claim to be more experienced than you in this sport - far from it! But there've been quite a number of hunts where I felt like my destiny was literally in the hands of the CoC. Although I haven't experienced searching for answers beyond the boundaries of the hunt sectors (and hopefully I will never experience it), the CoC occasionally makes a bad call and that can have an impact on the hunters.

BlogCe5nT said...

Yes, I stand corrected under those sad circumstances.

If I had still wanted to control my destiny, I would had have to make such a big fuss until I got the outcome that I demanded. Would I, would you? Some have.