Ethical adventure apparel and gear brand Cotopaxi hosts this day-long scavenger hunt style adventure in dozens of US and Canadian cities each year: https://www.cotopaxi.com/pages/events-questival-home
I was first introduced to Cotopaxi when buying Christmas gifts for my family. I wanted to get my grandpa a new jacket but was also trying to give gifts that uphold the same ethical standards as things I buy for myself. To help me in this endeavor, I downloaded the DoneGood extension for Google Chrome - which suggests ethical, eco-friendly, and/or philanthropic brands that are similar to the product or brand you searched.
My quest for the perfect gift for grandpa was successful! Happy to say he wore the (reversible!) Kusa Bomber Jacket to his 93rd birthday dinner a few weeks later:
After my purchase, I subscribed to the Cotopaxi email list and got the alert that the Questival was hitting the Twin Cities. I immediately RSVPd on Facebook and told everyone about it, then promptly forgot about it until the week of. Oops. It worked out, but I would definitely advise registering early because the registration fee is lower earlier in the game. And you have more time to assemble a team…more on that later.
The totem was just a little flag that needed to be in most of the challenge photos/videos:
The backpack and totem, and kickoff team challenge worth a bunch of points, were available at the kickoff party. Also at the kickoff party were food trucks, live music, and a Cotopaxi pop-up shop.
Another benefit to starting early: getting it together to complete the pre-event challenges. My team missed easy points for things like Facebook sharing or making up team nicknames by not being prepared ahead of time.
My team ended up consisting of me and my significant other. This was fun, but made it both easier and harder to complete the challenges. Some of them would have been easier or we could have gotten more creative with our photos or made more videos with more people, but this only serves as incentive to do it again next time.
The challenges themselves varied in difficulty and type. From one-point challenges like #180 "Follow Cotopaxi on Twitter", to six points for #065 "During daylight hours walk across Smith Ave. high bridge and take a team selfie in the middle", or 12 points for #249 "Go find Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji. Take a picture with 1 of your teammates in their best woodsman attire.”, the Questival offered different challenges for different people.
There were challenges involving camping and survival that I definitely was not prepared for and some fitness-focused ones that sounded fun but definitely more feasible with more people.
Another helpful hint for success - try to get to the checkpoint challenges! The general location and one-hour timeframe are posted ahead of time and each challenge is worth six points.
The “Do Good” printed on the totem was certainly a theme of many challenges. Some service oriented challenges like "Pick up 100 pieces of trash at a local park, recycle what you can and put the rest in the trash. Take a video clearly showing what you gathered.” Or "Contact the nonprofit of your choice and schedule a time to go in and volunteer with them after the Questival. (PLEASE if you complete this challenge make sure to honor your commitment). #integrity” or “Personally thank a current/former professor/teacher/coach for the impact they have had on your life. Phone, facetime or skype.” had me feeling warm and fuzzy even if we didn’t complete the specific challenge.
Some of the wacky challenges made specific note of making sure to have permission before doing the wacky thing, because that is the right thing to do. ("Do your best gymnastics trick on a trampoline that you have permission to use. The rest of your team needs to hold up judging point cards.” Or “Choreograph a team dance and perform it with audible music in a crowded area. Get permission first from the owner/operator of the crowded area unless it is a free public space.”)
My least favorite challenge was probably #089 Everyone on your team eats one raw clove of garlic each. #foryourhealth.
And obviously, I had to ham it up when the perfect photo op presented itself in Challenge #057 Find and take a team photograph with this mural during daylight hours:
I asked my teammate/SO to weigh in on our experience.
"The best thing about Questival was Cotopaxi's almost pervasive message of positivity. Their opening ceremony set the tone and cast all their quirky challenges in a healthy, fun light that really kept the competition from feeling too serious and brought a lot to the experience.
I also enjoyed the strategy of playing the game. There were plenty of high-value challenges that allowed less-committed players to still feel involved in the competition. On a side note, the role of "rating" other teams' submissions and holding them accountable was a great way to build a feeling of community and engender a commitment to doing good. I know I might sound like a sap, but you couldn't NOT buy into it.
I didn't like that some of the low-point challenges involved following Cotopaxi on Instagram, etc, but I realize that's the name of the game. It helps get their message out there, and at the end of the day I support the message. I do appreciate that it wasn't an integral part of the experience (by NO means was it something like having to share every post) and that it wasn't something that gave players willing to plug Cotopaxi on social media an unfair advantage.
I would recommend Questival to someone who feels distance from the people or culture around them. Though I was relegated to my team (of two) for most of the real-world experience, the knowledge I was a part of a bigger gathering was always in the back of my mind. It reminded me to be less cynical, less judgmental, and more supportive of the efforts of everyday people around me."
Check out our full team page here - we ended up with 160 points: http://questivalteams.cotopaxi.com/teampage?id=v6zHsu2ZP9
As for the winners - the app notes that the top teams had up to 628 points! The top teams are listed here: https://www.cotopaxi.com/pages/winners-of-questival-twin-cities and you can check out each team’s page here: http://questivalteams.cotopaxi.com/eventpage?id=8wguFQp6o0
Cotopaxi also compiled their “Best of” list here: http://aventuras.cotopaxi.com/best-of-questival-msp/
Overall, I would abso-freaking-lutely do it again. I hope next time to start earlier and get to more of the service oriented challenges.