The Search for the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine


A quest designed to develop an understanding of the key components of project management and personal performance.


Wouldn’t it be great if students truly understood the key components of effective project management? When we say “project” we are referring to any situation where there is an objective to be achieved and teams / individuals have limited time and resources with which to work. This would include exams, the Leaving Certificate, transition year projects and sporting endeavors.


Truly grasping the best mindset to take to these situations would be wonderful from a young age. The Search for the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine delivers just that!

The Learner Experience

Students are presented with the challenge of planning and launching an expedition to the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine in the Superstition Mountain range in Arizona. They have limited time and limited resources. How will they approach the challenge? What route will they take to and from the mine? Will they assess all of the available information and advice? Will they set an objective for the project or just get going? Will they make the best use of the resources, information and advice at their disposal?


Typically, students return from the Superstition Mountain Range with less Gold than possible. Afterwards in our powerful debrief they realise how a different approach to the challenge would have yielded far higher results. They will see that they didn’t need any more resources, time or ‘luck’ to do this. The principles of successful project management that emerge are seen to be just as relevant to real projects or situations where the results are really important to us.


When students are asked about the most useful aspect of this programme they say:

Key Lessons

  • Being able to differentiate between unfocused activity and productive actions and the difference these make to our results
  • Identifying a mindset to take to real situations, where the result is something we truly care about
  • Understanding the key reasons why important projects often stress us and how we can reduce this stress using effective time management and sustained planned effort
  • Seeing the benefits of clear objective setting and building complete plans on how to deliver these objectives from the start of projects

Practical Details

  • ½ day programme
  • Suitable for delivery to a standard group of 25 using one facilitator
  • Standard full day option combines this programme with ‘Solving the Problem of Tom’s Canyon Ford’
  • Possible for one facilitator to deliver two sessions in one day (morning and afternoon sessions)

The majority of schools we work with use both programmes. Some have us deliver one programme at one stage in the year, giving each class a half day with us, followed by the same with the other programme at a later stage. Others have us spend a full day with each class group delivering both programmes to that class in one day.


“Typically, we start the class off in 5 expeditions teams. One thing I love to do in the debrief afterwards is point out how each of the 5 teams started off with the same amount of time, the same access to information and advice and the same budget. That being the case, the results of the teams varied massively. The only thing that differed between the teams was the strategy they took to the situation! For me it’s a great way to highlight how the approach we take to any given situation is crucial. Often, we focus on things outside of our control, but it’s in focusing on all the things within our control, specifically the approach and plan we are following, where real improvement is to be found.”