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Spy Party

Mission Impossible -7yr- Secret Cellophane Message




Mark in Bear, DE, USA


June 2005


Special Mention

Mission: Impossible Spy Party, age 7 (13 kids, ages 3-9)  Invitations: 

Invitations went in manila evelopes labeled "TOP SECRET" and contained two parts:  a secret message and a decoder.  The secret message read:  \*\*\*\*\*\*\*SUPER SECRET SPY HEADQUARTERS\*\*\*\*\*\*\* MISSION:  Help Agent 006 get to Agent 007 TARGET:  <my son's name> RENDEZVOUS: <date>, <location> If you choose to accept this mission, dial 302-836-6206.  Speak into the voice recognition system and leave your agent number, codename and the password ?gitty-up cowboy?.  If you are currently assigned to another mission leave the password ?no can do?. THIS MESSAGE WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN 10 SECONDS 

This message was made secret by printing it in faint light blue letters with a pink confetti fill pattern (in MS Word).  The other part of the invite was a decoder made of adhesive-backed foam and red cellophane.  From the foam, I cut  little frames about 1" x 2" and then adhered them to the red cellophane and cut away the excess cellophane.  When you put the red cellophane over the pink confetti and light blue letters, the pink disappears and the light blue looks dark and is now legible.  Most invites went to 2-kid households, so I split the message from the decoder by putting each in a separate plain envelope addressed to each "agent" to whom I have an agent number and a codename. 

Food:  Nothing special simply pizza, chips, raw veggies and dip.  Activities:  When the kids first arrived, they were given a task of drawing a disguise on their pictures (which I had from a previous party).  This kept them occupied until all the kids arrived.  Then I did a observation-memory test.  I got the idea from a "Mary Kate & Ashely Detective Party" ideas webpage I found online.  I found 15 items a spy might use passport, camera, watch, headphones, microcassette recorder, etc. and arranged them on the table.  I let the children look for about 10 seconds, then I covered the items up and removed one.  Then I asked a child which item was missing.  We went around to every child even the adults were playing.  This went very well. 

Next I did the same thing but with listening--the telephone game.  I whispered a phrase in one child's ear and he had to whisper it on to the next child and so on.  This didn't go over so well.  The younger children got shy or smiley and couldn't pass the message on at all.  Then I quizzed the kids if they new the location of some high-tech satellite photos I got off the internet.  They all caught on real quick that it was each of their houses.  Again, the parents thought this was cool to see their own houses from a satellite's perspective.  Then I kept the older kids around to do some decoding and secret messaging (invisible ink, pencil twist codes, CIA ciper wheel--all things to be found through the internet).  Once these activities were over, we got the cake ready. 

The Cake:  The cake was simply a spy silouhette made of black icing and a flashlight with a yellow beam.  Across the spy it read "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" and in the beam it read my son's name.  In the lower right corner I had a red cross-hair with SUPER SECRET SPY AGENCY" written across it. 

Closing Activity:  Mission: Impossible Obstacle Course.  I turned my basement into an underground enemy base.  I taped a Mission: Impossible message on a microcassette recorder.  The basic idea was that an evil group called BUG (Bad Ugly Guys) stole the Declaration of Independence and made copies of it for decoys.  They hid the Declaration and the decoy copies in their underground bases.  But the real declaration had an invisible message imprinted on the back.  "Your mission, should you decide to accept it is to retrieve all the documents and return them for authentication.  As always, should any of your team be caught throwing a tantrum, their parents will disavow any knowledge of their actions.  This message will self destruct in five seconds.  Good luck." 

Among the defenses they had to get through were a real laser grid, a tunnel, guards, moving motion-sensing cameras, a numeric keypad door lock, and patrol robots.  I start thing off, the kids had to get past a LASER GRID.  I borrowed laster pointer from work and used a binder clip to keep the button pressed. I taped it to a long piece of styrofoam I wedged in my basement stairwell.  I angled the beam down and made it reflect off the shiny side of a CD which taped to the opposite wall.  This split the one beam into 3 beams in the other direction.  I used fogger unit to made the beams visible.  I turned out the stairway light and viola--laser grid.  I made sure to tell the kids NOT to look at the laser as they ducked down under it on one side. 

At the bottom of the stairs, they had to crawl through a 14"-diameter sonotube (tube for making concrete pilings) and sneak by some GUARDS (2 parents sitting in a sofa facing the other way).  The kids couldn't help laugh as they crawled behind this sofa.  I also had fake SECRUITY CAMERAS I installed in my drop ceiling.  The cameras came from Oreintal Trading company for $5 each and simply bolt neatly with size 6-32 x 2" bolts and fender washers.  They are motorized to pan back and forther and are motion-sensitive.  Once they snuck by the cameras, the child went along a wall of big carboard boxes.  He had to type in a secret code on a calculator I taped to one big cardboard box.  Another adult sat behind the wall of boxes and moved another box to open a door.  But, as soon as they got to the keypad, another adult activitated the ROBOT BUGS! 

We have 2 BioBug remote control insect toys that crawl fast and make this creepy sound.  This is one reason why I chose B.U.G. for the name of the evil organization.  The kids would hear them coming behind and they would around in a panic no crying though.  They could hardly press the buttons, but the door always opened in the knick of time.  Each child then retrieved a Declaration of Independence and made it back up the stairs to safety.  After all the children went through the obstacle course, my son had to collect them all and use the UV LED penlight I showed in the secret code activity to find the invisible message on the "real" Declaration of Independence.  Needless to say, the kids wanted to do the obstacle course more than once. 

PARTY FAVORS:  Each child received a pair of colored spy sunglasses; a 3-in-1 compass, red LED light, and whistle; a neon & black gangster (spy) hat, magnifying glass (all plastic); an photo ID card from Super Secret Spy Agency; and their disguise picture.  In addition, each household got a spy periscope.  Overall, I think it went well.  One thing I totally forgot to do because of the kids clamoring to do the course, was to turn on the Mission:  Impossible theme music while they did the secret mission.  The adults were good sports helping be the Bad Ugly Guys. 

ADULT ACTIVITY:  I also had contest for the adults.  I wrote the names of 5 famous spies:  James Bond, Napoleon Solo, John Steed, Austin Powers, Maxwell Smart and tried to see who could give the most answers to the following:  the leading lady the spy worked with, the organization they worked for, and the enemy organization they always fought.  This was tougher than I thought, and only a few correct answers were given by all of the parents.

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