The Prouts Neck 2012 Puzzle Hunt


It’s a cold, rainy day at Prouts Neck, Maine. It’s been a lovely week, filled with everything the Smiths love: lazing on the beach, lazing around the breakfast table, and lazing on a sailboat. But as the cousins sit around and watch their parents stack bags in the front hall, it begins to sink in: the house has been sold, and it’s the last week we’ll ever stay in it.

As we look to the future, we recognize the need to develop new traditions. And so, with this on their minds, the cousins embarked on a nostalgic stroll / epic journey down Memory Lane to revisit some favourite Prouts traditions, play a few favourite games one last time, and try to see if they could answer the call for a new Smith tradition that could withstand the test of time and distance.

Memory Lane stops:


To check if you have the correct answer to a puzzle, visit this Google Form and type your answer in. The form will dynamically check it. If there’s no error, you’ve got it!

Answer Checker Form

This puzzle hunt was intended to be completed linearly, but it’s not necessary to solve that way. (Except, of course, you’ll need most of the answers from the puzzles to solve the meta.)

Tips and comments

If you’ve never done a puzzle hunt before, I highly recommend starting with Puzzled Pint’s excellent beginner’s guide.

Briefly put: your task in each puzzle is to try to make sense of some strange data in order to produce an answer. Answers are usually words or short phrases, like “ORANGE” or “PETER’S PANG”, but not “WORD WITH DAY OR SKY”, which seems less like an answer are more like a clue for the real answer, “LIGHT”. (Also… did the puzzle require removing letters from the ends of words? If so, reapply the technique to the initial answer to get the final answer: it might really be “PETER PAN.”) You will know you’re on the right track if the approach you use to sort or whatnot causes things to fit into place nicely. A common way of extracting answers is to take the first letter of each item on your list, although in this hunt (like with DASH) I make use of separate “answer extraction” grids which, when used in the proper way, will give you a sensible answer.

Note also: due to the original audience (my family) and the context in which the hunt was run (a family vacation), I did pay attention to some puzzle standards, like making sure answers are obtainable without fully solving the puzzle (including for the meta). But I ignored others: in particular, I didn’t test whether puzzles (e.g., Mafia and Cliff Path) were easily backsolvable from their own answers grids, since I knew that brute-force coding-aided backsolving would not be a tactic.


Looking here already? Don’t give up! You can do it. Take a little break and come back with a fresh mind, or try to explain the puzzle to a friend.

Oh, ok, if you insist… Here are the solutions:


I owe a great thanks to Emily Morgan for generously test-solving the meta puzzle. (Yes, I had some mercy for my cousins!) I also would like to thank my family for solving the hunt, AKA test-solving the hunt for the Internet public! And of course the hunt was a very personal thing for me: I’m grateful to my family for all the time we’ve spent over the years at Prouts.

© June 2012, Jordan B. L. Smith