2013 Ford School Staff Retreat scavenger hunt inspired by President Ford centennial celebration

June 11, 2013

Before Gerald Ford was president, he was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. This comes as no surprise to the U-M community, certainly not to the staff of his namesake school, the Ford School of Public Policy. But what building formerly housed this economics major's courses? What campus monument most closely recalls his wartime service in the U.S. Navy—although the monument itself is not to President Ford? Where is the original location of his fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE)?

While these questions are not, in and of themselves, difficult to figure out, imagine that the clue is written in Greek letters. Or imagine that it is cut into a dozen puzzle pieces or comes in the form of a lyric poem, and you get the idea.

Such was the 2013 Ford School Staff Retreat, a series of teambuilding challenges and mind-bending clues that took staff members across central and north U-M campuses on Tuesday, June 4. The scavenger hunt, which required participants to snap confirmation photographs at every site, was designed to learn more about, and pay tribute to, President Ford during this, his centennial year. Gerald Ford would have turned 100 on July 14.

Split into seven predetermined teams, staff members began the day at Weill Hall for an early breakfast and the first of two problem-solving group challenges organized by the Michigan Student Affairs Challenge Program.The Challenge Program offers activities "to strengthen group cohesiveness, team spirit and cooperation," according to their website.

After the first challenge—which hilariously required each team to parachute a rubber chicken into a hula hoop—the seven groups received their bag of supplies and information leading to the second challenge, which took place at the Gerald Ford Library on North Campus.

The second challenge was a test of patience, problem solving, and resolve, as team members attempted to "escort" a rubber ball to a Frisbee target via a series of halved tubing strips. As each team completed the challenge, they were given the set of five clues that would then take them around campus to points of interest in President Ford's life at Michigan, including the flagpole on central campus, Lorch Hall, the Michigan Union, the original DKE house on Williams Street, and, finally, Michigan Stadium.

A tailgate lunch at the Golf Course and Staff Recognition Awards followed, as well as a tour of the "Big House" to complete the day of staff-wide communication and collaboration.