By Kierra Pixler, Managing Editor
Animation, video game design, graphic design, video editing, and programming are just a few of Belton New Tech teacher Mark Williams’ specialties. Williams’ and his wife, Emily, have lived in the Belton area for 18 years and both work for BISD. The couple have three young boys and keep them moving and running from place to place with activities such as hiking, exploring and geocaching.
When he isn’t shaping the minds of our youth at school, he’s incorporating it outside of the classroom. Williams was inspired by a TV show that featured the book “The Secret.” The premise of the book featured a series of treasure hunts, one of which is believed to be in Houston.
“I’ve always loved the idea of finding hidden treasure, but it wasn’t until recently that I got really interested in a real treasure hunt,” Williams said. “I watched a TV show on the travel channel that featured a book called The Secret published in the early 1980s.”
After discovering that the one of the treasure hunts from the book was in Houston, he immediately started conducting research online and discovered that many have a theory that this particular treasure in Houston is somewhere in Herman Park.
“I had a different theory that I’m very convinced of and went to Houston to explore these new ideas,” Williams said. “Long story short, I didn’t find it because I didn’t want to get caught digging in an area that I’m not supposed to, but I still think it’s out there in that location.”
Wanting to bring treasure hunting to the area, Williams decided to start something similar in the area on a smaller scale.
“I wanted to initiate curiosity and intrigue without these treasure hunts having extreme difficulty,” Williams said. “I want these to be easy enough for a 5-year-old to go out and search and find within the same day.”
“I love how my boys get excited about what’s inside the treasure boxes and how they want to help their daddy,” Emily Williams said. “It’s so cool to watch so many families have fun outdoors and get to do something together that is free.”
Not only are the treasure boxes exciting for children to search for, it also promotes interaction and problem-solving skills in a tangible way. The treasure boxes are small tin boxes that contain a variety of surprises. From fake Spanish coins, Matchbox cars, bracelets and more, the element of surprise is inciting. Most people take one thing out of the box and leaving something else small in the box, and then signing a log that’s also in the box.
“There’s also a game called ‘Trigger the Treasure’ within the group that is more immediate than the other treasure boxes and usually consist of a gift card to a local restaurant hidden somewhere,” Williams said. “People in the group try to guess a secret word that, ‘triggers’, or reveals, the location of the hidden treasure. Then people rush out to find it. All of this happens within about 15 minutes. So far I’ve hidden a gift card to Corona’s Mexican Restaurant over at the Gin, and another gift card hidden in the freezer section of Walmart underneath a Klondike Bar package.”
As for future plans, Williams said he plans on hiding 12 treasure boxes around Belton and will continue to give out freebies to the group like gift cards and/or coupons to local places and venues.
For more information on the treasure hunts, visit. FunInBelton.com.