FORSGREN: The straw maze survival guide

The Art of Nerding Out

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Eric Sorensen, who helps run the ScareTower maze in Rexburg, gives tips on how to find your way out. | Adam Forsgren,

Sometimes you can’t help getting lost and frustrated in a straw maze. After all, everything looks the same and it can be hard to remember which way you last turned. It doesn’t take long for the whole maze to morph into an interminable straw-colored blur.

Hoping to get some tips for how to successfully navigate a straw maze, dropped in on Rexburg’s ScareTower and spoke with Eric Sorensen, one of four partners who run the attraction. The ScareTower features an unhaunted straw maze and a haunted house. With his help, we came up a few helpful suggestions for you maze runners out there.

Wear the right gear

Be sure to dress appropriately. Sorensen recommended long pants and close-toed footwear, so as to avoid the discomfort and annoyance of getting straw in your shoes. And be sure to bring a jacket in case it gets cold or starts raining. Straw mazes are a lot harder to navigate when you’re miserable, wet and cold.

Follow a wall

Sorensen said one way to get through a maze is to pick a wall to follow as soon as you enter the maze. “If you’re already in a loop and you hug a wall you’re just going to continually go around in the loop”, he said. “But if you start at the beginning of the maze and follow a wall, it should lead you out.”

You will get out. Someday. | Adam Forsgren,

Know your limits

Some straw mazes are haunted, providing an extra level of excitement to your maze running experience. But some folks have anxiety issues or weak hearts or may be prone to panic attacks. “I don’t know if there’s anything you can do about that”, Sorensen said. “People just have to police themselves.” So know what sets you off and how much you can take. And if the idea of being scared freaks you out, find a maze that isn’t haunted.

Reward yourself

A reward for finishing is also a reason to keep going. At the Scaretower, the reward for successfully finishing is built right into the maze – a 65-foot slide.

“You don’t get to go down the slide unless you finish the maze,” said Sorensen. “That was my intention of putting it there – as an incentive. And once kids finish the maze, they go on it over and over and over. They just love it.”

But you can use all kinds of things to motivate yourself. Take yourself out for ice cream if you get all the way through. Get some little item you really want — anything that keeps you focused and motivated.

Find an emergency exit

Straw mazes are required to have emergency exits at the perimeters, in the event of an emergency. These exits also serve as an escape should you get lost and frustrated.

Don’t cheat

According to Sorensen, lots of people like to create their own shortcuts. “You try to build your maze nice and tight, so there are no shortcuts”, he says. “But, inevitably kids find find holes in the corners and they cut through the bales, and by the end of the season, a 4-inch hole has turned into a 2-foot passageway.” He says much time is spent finding those holes and stuffing them with straw so there are no shortcuts. And don’t climb on top of the maze.

“It’s fun to get on top, because you can see where you’re going and see where the paths go,” said Sorensen. Both these cheats may seem like clever ways to win, but they can spoil the fun for others and even present safety issues.

Armed with these suggestions, you should have a better chance of successfully getting through your local straw maze (and many of these tips hold true for corn mazes too). Just be more mindful than this writer, and don’t forget them the instant you enter the maze.

Writer Adam Forsgren hopes a search party will find him. | Adam Forsgren,