**Guest post from the team at CLASH
Among the tourists, the street performers, the high fashion consumers and the hop-on bus employees in their red windbreakers, there is a new group that has become part of the culture of Union Square: groups of 30 to 40 people wearing colorful face paint and neon headbands. They ask to give strangers piggy-back rides, and they do synchronized cartwheels on the grass. They may seem strange, but actually they represent the new face of corporate team-building.
It's well known that the tech industry shies away from stuffy corporate culture. They've traded in their suits and ties for flannel and skinny jeans. Every start-up has its own perks, whether it's a basketball hoop, a tequila bar or a go-kart race track. Start-up culture is about infusing enjoyment into employees’ 9 to 5. So, it makes sense that more and more companies are forgoing the standard bowling outing in favor of something more exciting. These groups are active, outrageous and a little irreverent.
CLASH founder Joe Garvey was inspired by this culture to create scavenger hunts for his friends. The SF Guardian gave him the moniker Tech Party King, but we like to call him Captain Joe. These first hunts were just for fun, but they became so notorious that he was approached by Google to make a hunt for their teams as an employee bonding event. It was the beginning of something good and a trend that couldn't be ignored. CLASH started out with a little storefront in the Tenderloin. Now, CLASH is in Union Square and runs 3-4 hunts a week for companies like Pinterest, Salesforce, Apple and Facebook.
When deciding where to center our operations, Union Square was the obvious choice. The hustle and bustle of the business, tourist and shopping crowd is the perfect formula for excitement. Participants start out at the clubhouse on Stockton Street. They are provided with an open bar, dance music and as much free skeeball as they can handle. Then, we push them out into the streets. It's up to them to plan a route, gather points and coerce strangers into helping them achieve scavenger hunt glory.
We've found that tourists are the most receptive to stopping and helping, because they aren't running off to a meeting. Actually, we like to think it adds to the excitement of seeing a new city. We'll ask strangers to take photos for us, but more often than not, they end up wanting photos of us.
These hunts are built to connect participants to Union Square in a completely unique manner. Our objective is to show tech partiers the spots hidden in plain sight, and to get a great photo out of each place they discover. Our hunts have participants chest bump in front of the sewing machines on Maiden Lane, make a hands and knees pyramid in front of the hearts in the square, do handstands in the hand prints outside of the Curran Theatre and other wacky activities. We want people to INTERACT with their environment, see the city with new eyes and discover places they've never noticed before.
When participants return to our Clubhouse, we show them their best photos, crown the winners and shower them with champagne. Then, we send them off with recommendations to continue the party at local establishments like E&O Asian Kitchen, Burritt Room and Golden Gate Tap Room. It’s our hope that these hunts drum up new business for our community and that we can help introduce locals to the best locations around our home in Union Square.