Chapel Thrill Escapes — the first student-designed, built and operated nonprofit escape room in the country — started this month on campus.
Co-founded by UNC students Cameron Champion, Hunter Davis, Dan Hirst and Philip Smart, Chapel Thrill Escapes seeks to give individuals a unique experience of an escape room that they can enjoy with students, friends and families.
Champion said he thought it would be cool to bring a lot of his creative friends together to start an escape room.
With an idea and dream, Champion pitched his idea to a UNC administrator who manages various types of property around the University and Chapel Hill community. He said the administrator loved the idea but thought it would be unattainable due to the lack of funds for the project and the fact that Champion and his friends would be running the organization as full-time students.
Champion said he and his team were determined to get started regardless, so he talked with Carolina Housing, which later provided them a two-year, rent-free deal for the escape room in Cobb Residence Hall.
“It was all hands on deck after that, and we had a crazy realization that it was all going to happen,” Champion said.
He said after securing the space for the room, the team applied for and received many grants to fund it and has been blown away by all the support.
Champion said BeAM@CAROLINA recently reached out to create a partnership with Chapel Thrill Escapes, which has provided them with resources that have been beneficial to lowering their costs of production.
At their Nov. 1 grand opening, interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz accepted an invitation to come speak and cut the ribbon beside the team.