GOSHEN COUNTY – There’s a treasure somewhere in Goshen County.
Technically, it’s not in place – yet. But, by April 5, a group plans to hide a metal token somewhere within the confines of the county that could net one lucky winner a cash prize – and the satisfaction of knowing they’ve helped local eighth graders learn more about their country.
It’s the Land of Goshen Hidden Treasure, a fundraiser for the annual eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C., in May. The group hosting the event are offering chances at the treasure for $20, with half the money going toward the students.
The fundraiser is the brainchild of Troy and Kathy Ayres and Mary Werner, a math teacher at Torrington Middle School and long-time coordinator of the annual Washington trips. In the past, trips have been financed by parents, but the primary funding source has always been community fundraising efforts.
“It’s pretty expensive for these kids to go on this trip, so a big part of their ability to even go is based on fundraising,” Kathy said. “That’s basically where we stepped in – what could be another fun spin for a fundraiser? We came up with the Land of Goshen Hidden Treasure.”
It’s going to work like this, they said. Right now, eighth graders from the three middle schools in the district – Torrington, Lingle-Fort Laramie and Southeast – are selling tickets that will entitle the holder to one chance at the treasure. For each ticket a student sells, $10 will go into a special account in their name to help defray a portion of the $1,690 per person cost of the trip. The other $10 goes into the eventual prize pot, the Ayres said.
Then, at 1 p.m. on April 5, all the ticket holders will gather at Torrington Middle School. They will each receive a special scroll with a poem – ala national treasure hunt author Forrest Fenn – with clues to the location of the redemption token.
And the race will be on.
“They’ll have to present their ticket” to receive a scroll, Mary said. “Once we see that ticket, we give them a scroll and then it’s helter-skelter.”
Mary, Kathy and Troy said they’ve always been interested in puzzles, adventuring, geo-caching and other outdoor activities, which helped spur them toward this unique fundraiser. Another of their ventures was the Terror Train Escape Room, organized in conjunction with the Homesteaders Museum in Torrington, late last year.
The group hopes the treasure hunt will be fun and challenging. They know – if nothing else – it’s not going to be easy.
“We hope it’s hard enough that it’s not going to be found in a few hours, a few days or a few weeks,” Kathy said. “We will continue to sell scrolls after the release date, so the kids can still make money. The people who buy (the tickets) beforehand will have a few days head start.”
In addition to individual eighth grade students, tickets are available at the Goshen County Chamber of Commerce or through the group’s Facebook page, Land of Goshen Hidden Treasure.
Proceeds from sales through the Chamber of Commerce or via the internet will go into a group scholarship fund which students can apply for to help fund their trips, Mary said. And, if the treasure isn’t found by the time students leave for the trip in early May, additional funds raised will be placed into that account for students to use next year.
“It’s just exciting,” Mary said. “It gets people out there for something fun to do. It could be a family activity; it could be an individual – it just depends on how much you want to split your pot.
“It’s a gaming thing,” she said. “People are huge into gaming. I think it’s just tapping into that innate feeling of let’s find something fun.”
Troy agreed: “They’re being challenged and having a chance to be rewarded for that challenge. Everybody’s got a thrill seeker in them to a degree. This is just a way to play into that.”