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Spy Party

Spy Training Camp -10yr- Fake Bomb




Scott in Mukwonago, Wi USA


October 2006


Runner Up

My son turned 10 this year. He's also very into spies and spy gadgets, and so he requested a spy party as a theme.  I wanted to include him in the planning, so we did a little spy work of our own and investigated sites like birthdaypartyideas.com to see what others had come up with. My son liked a couple of the ideas, but ultimately we made our own plan of attack.  We decided upon hosting a spy training camp.

Each of the boys invited received an invitation to the attend the camp and ultimately be part of an elite team.  The invitations were created using a basic do-it-yourself card creation software and were printed onto a piece of letter size paper and folded into quarters. We combined a few pieces of clip art to create that spy feel for the front of the card  an ink stamp reading TOP SECRET, a picture of a manilla folder (which we typed the words MISSION INSTRUCTIONS onto in a red military type font), and a silhouette of a man  wearing a trench-coat and fedora and holding a magnifying glass. Inside the wording was:  Roger has selected you to be part of an elite 10th-birthday spy training-camp team. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to rendezvous at the given coordinates and time and be prepared for fun. (RYSP) Report Your Status By Sept 27 555-1234  Date: Time: Coordinates:   (Address and directions to our home)  The party itself was very fun. We planned five events for the kids to do, and that became the basis for the training camp.

First my son and I decided on code names for each of the boys. Then I put together a page containing six basic codes (e.g. writing backwords, letting a number take the place of each letter, shifting the alphabet by one letter so that CAT becomes DBU, etc.)  When the boys all arrived, I welcomed them to the training camp and informed them that they would be learning some skills that would serve them well on a mission of great importance that was coming up. Their first lesson was on deciphering code. Each boy received a master code-breaker sheet along with his code name written in code. His first task was to decipher the code name (cool names like viper, cobra, crusher, cypher). Once the names were deciphered those were the names they would use for each other throughout the remainder of the camp.  The boys had a blast working out the codes, with me helping anyone that seemed stuck. And everyone liked the idea of using the code names for the whole party. 

Next we moved onto lesson 2  laser avoidance.  We had actually read of another party that used strings to represent laser beams guarding a treasure and that idea was incorporated into the party. I set up some tripods in the family room and ran string back and forth, up and down, in and out between whatever I could near the wall (like doorknobs, hinges, tables) and the tripods in the middle of the room. This made an almost impenetrable barrier. But the spies-in-training had to find a way through the maze without touching any of the laser beams. Each boy took a turn. Since there were seven boys, that meant 14 sets of eyes (mine included) watching for the slightest brush against the strings.  This activity was a major hit with everyone going at least twice before one of the spies in training made it all the way through. 

Following the laser beam activity we moved on to bomb handling. For this we played a standard game of hot potato using a phlat ball as the bomb. This is a ball that folds flat and springs back into ball shape -- basically whenever its good and ready (usually 10 to 15 seconds).  A few rounds of that and it was off to missile target practice.  

We bought a generic, flat faced pinata at Wal-Mart and using clipart of a fighter jet, we covered the face of the pinata to resemble what one would see on a HUD (Heads Up Display) when a missile is locked on its target. Then the boys took turns using the missile (baseball bat) to hit the target. We didn't use a blindfold. Instead, I let each boy take a turn. However I was holding one end of the rope and was able to move the pinata up and down to create a moving target. That way, I could control, to some degree, when the pinata broke open.  

Having finished the basic training, the team was ready for their first mission. I created the mission. That way my son could join in and have it unfold for him the same as everyone else. It involved an imaginary country, a bomb, an airplane ride, a secret hideout, secret messages, breaking codes, taking pictures and an encounter with an enemy agent. Trust, me its all feasible and the mission was completed in 21 minutes.  

The mission centered around defusing a bomb. So, I needed a bomb or at least something that could pose as a bomb. I found a black shoebox, taped a flashlight to it (purely for looks), and then took a scrap piece of electrical wire and opened it up to get the color coded wires out - one black, one white, one red, and one copper. I cut a hole into one end of the box, stuck all the wires into the box a couple inches and taped them in place. Then I took some modeling clay and pushed it into mounds on a couple of other places on the boxes top. Into those mounds of clay the other ends of the wires were inserted. The result was a passable looking bomb. This was placed on the stove and I set the stoves timer to 45 minutes.

Then I gathered the team together around the table, opened my manila folder and read the following.  Mission:  The Government of Tolonisia has created a new weapon with great power. A rogue Tolonisian agent has stolen the weapon and modified it into a  bomb capable of incredible destruction. That bomb is set to explode in 45 minutes.  The Tolonisian's are unwilling to share the plans for their weapon with us.  Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to work as a team to locate and photograph the plans for this weapon deep within the Tolonisian territory. You must do this undetected.  Then return with those pictures and use them to defuse the bomb before it explodes.  

I then handed them a coded message and left the room. The message, once decoded read:  Locate the plane ticket under the table.  The "ticket" was in an envelope taped to the bottom of the table they were all working at. I had created a boarding pass for a plane ride to Tolonisia on board flight Mitsubishi Gallant (the type of car we own). I knew my son would understand and direct everyone out to the driveway where I was seated inside the car. I took the boarding pass and all seven boys crowded into the car. They had no idea what I was going to do. Acting as the captain, I gave them the standard pilot speech welcoming them aboard. Then I started the car, moved it about 10 feet, stopped and welcomed them to Tolonisia. As everyone exited the car I said, Is there a Cobra in this group? That was my son's code name.

I then handed him a CD that I recorded and burned on my computer. They ran for the nearest CD player, and this is what the message said:  "Good afternoon Cobra Team. I'm glad to see that you've made it this far. Now that you've landed in Tolonisia, you'll need to retrieve your spy camera from the safehouse. Cobra knows the location.  Once you have managed to take the pictures, fly home immediately with the camera. I'll develop them for you and you should then be able to defuse the bomb."  "Oh, and remember that the main entrance to the safehouse is securely locked with an electronic lock. You'll have to use the hidden side door to enter. Good luck team."  Just for fun (mostly for me) the theme to Mission Impossible was playing in the background during the message. The last couple of sentences were, again, references that my son would understand as clues leading the team to his playhouse (which has a trap door that my son locks and a hidden side entrance). 

Once inside the playhouse, there was a cache of weapons (water guns, and nerf guns), a miniature camera, and the following instructions: Welcome to the safehouse. You'll need this camera to complete the mission. You will need to enter the house of one Mr. Smith and locate a briefcase containing the secret documents. The area surrounding the case is guarded by laser beam sensors. Be careful that noone touches any of the lasers (they look like strings)   First, however, you will need the combination to the case. The combination is divided in half, and kept in separate locations. Time is of the essence though. You will need to split into 2 teams to complete this next task. Teams one and two will take the appropriate envelopes and decode the locations listed. Then meet back here before proceeding to the Smith home. 

There were two envelopes, labeled Team 1 and Team 2 respectively, containing a location on our property where they could find the pieces of the combination they needed. However, these locations were written in code. So the code breaker sheets were needed once more. When the two teams found their combinations (one for the right lock and one for the left lock on a briefcase) they were to meet back at the safehouse. That's when the enemy agent made his sneak attack. While the teams were figuring out their final codes I donned a black sweatshirt and cool sunglasses, grabbed my water gun and got in position to ambush the assembled team when they tried to enter the house.  The battle was short, and I was drenched at the end, but this fulfilled my son's desire to use weapons during the party.  

From there the kids made it back to the laser guarded area they had practiced on earlier. This time there was a briefcase on the floor in the middle of the protected area. They had to get into the area and open the case using the combinations that they just uncovered. Inside the case was a paper telling them to point the camera at this document and click, then return to the home-base and give the camera to the base commander (me).   The kids made their way back to me and gave me the camera. I then handed them a drawing I had created on the computer showing the bomb with instructions to cut the red wire. They rushed to the kitchen, picked up the wire cutter and clipped the proper wire. Unknown to them, our stove is tied into a switch on the opposite wall. So, when the red wire was severed, I merely turned off the switch which, in turn, cut power to the timer. Mission accomplished!  

The kids really got into the role play of this, and they worked together great as a team. Oh, and I had a blast too!

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