by Ken Sapp
Scavenger hunts have been popular with youth, adults, and children throughout the ages. With the recent popularity of “The Amazing Race” and reality TV shows, scavenger hunts are just as popular today as they have ever been. They can take a variety of forms, be modified with different rules, and be tailored to a variety of themes, locations, and age groups. They are great for building community, fostering team work, and generating lots of fun and excitement.
Here are some of the more common types of Scavenger Hunts.
Classic Scavenger Hunt
This is the traditional scavenger hunt where participants are given a list of items to retrieve and bring back within a designated time limit. Examples include both common and hard to find items like: a basketball, an 8 track tape, a spork, a coin with a specific date, or a postage stamp. The scavenger hunt consists of a list of the selected objects and some rules. Variations may allow photos of an object to replace the actual object or creative substitutions. The rules may forbid the purchase of items or restrict the participants from going to their own homes or malls to collect items. Various points are assigned to the objects based upon the difficulty necessary to obtain them. Themes can focus the items and add fun to the hunt. For example, a superhero scavenger hunt may require them to bring costumes, comics and other collectibles related to specific superheroes.
In this scavenger hunt, clues lead participants to a specific destination where they find a clue to the next location. Successive clues will ultimately lead them to a specific location where there is a party. Clues may be in the form of riddles or directions to follow and serve to guide participants to famous landmarks and other locations. Sometimes helpers are positioned at the various locations to hand out the next clue. In other places the clues may be hidden under a park bench or other inconspicuous locations where the public is not likely to remove them.
Find the Pieces Scavenger Hunt
Hide pieces of a jigsaw puzzle around the designated game area. This could be a school, a church, or even a local park. Instead of a puzzle you can use any machine or object that has multiple pieces. As an Example, for a Halloween party you could purchase plastic skeletons and disassemble them, hiding the bones before the party starts. Let the participants search for them and then reassemble the skeleton. Hide batteries, a tape recorder, and a cassette tape with a pre-recorded message describing the next clue. Hide chess pieces, ingredients for a meal, or even clothes and accessories. One of the activities may be to dress up as superman, but to do so they must collect several pieces of the costume which have been strategically hidden around the game area.
Information Scavenger Hunt
Instead of retrieving objects, or taking pictures, participants in this scavenger hunt must find information. It could be the date on a tombstone, the last item on a restaurant menu, the inscription on a cornerstone, or any other factual information that requires participants to visit a specific location. Victory goes to the first team to correctly collect the most answers or to the team with the most answers in the time limit.
Mystery Photo Hunt
In this scavenger hunt you scout out the location in advance with a digital camera. Take photos of textures, objects, landmarks, unspecified locations, and items from around the venue. Tightly crop them so that they are not easily identifiable. The images should be tightly cropped to a small square that only shows a portion of the object. Examples: The last few letters on a street sign, a small portion of a painting in the wall, a statue from a local park, the nose of a sculpture, the number 8 from an elevator, the intricately carved frame of a wooden door, the hose of a fire extinguisher, the handle on a cabinet, and others. Participants are then given a printout of all the photos and must identify each object and where it is located within the time limit. Online examples of this can be found at:
People Scavenger Hunts
In various incarnations, these scavenger hunts have groups search for people rather than objects. These could be people that participants know or total strangers. Participants can be required to get autographs, business cards, or photographs with the persons in order to prove they found them. Targets may be in disguise, dressed as certain characters from famous books, or simply roaming about a large mall.
Photo Scavenger Hunt
In this scavenger hunt, participants must take photos of their group with objects or in specific situations. The scavenger hunt format is a list of situations and objects to be included in the photos. One common variation is to include an object that must be present in every photograph such as a school mascot, a flag, a teddy bear or even something as outrageous as a couch. Participants may be given an instant 35mm camera or a digital camera. Boundaries and time limits can be used to limit the scope and duration of the game. Pictures are variously awarded points based upon meeting the stipulations of the photos and the creativity of the teams.
Pre-Arranged Scavenger Hunt
This is similar to the classic scavenger hunt, but the items are placed in the designated playing area in advance. A traditional Easter Egg is a common version of this hunt. Participants may be given a general instruction to “Find all the wrapped Christmas packages” or be given a list of specific items to find. In one variation, participants are to leave the item in place and merely note the exact location of the item. Alternatively the first team to locate the item and retrieve it will get the points. There may be more than one item hidden about the play area. You can even hide an item for each team to find. Simply color code the items with a piece of colored yard or thread. Disqualify any team that interferes with another team’s items.
Sound Scavenger Hunt
Instead of retrieving objects, students are given a tape recorder or other audio recording device and given a list of sounds to record. Sounds may include those made by objects, such as a ticking clock, ringing church bell, something announced on the radio or a radio commercial, a message from a person, animal sounds, and many others. The team that collects the most sounds from the list in the designated time is declared the winner.
In a treasure hunt there is one final thing to search for rather than a list of items. Successive clues lead to a final destination where the treasure can be found. Teams compete against each other to solve the clues, and follow them to the treasure.
Video Scavenger Hunts
In this scavenger hunt, participants are given a list of actions and situations that must be filmed on video. Teams film video footage of themselves or other people in certain places and performing challenging and sometimes ridiculous tasks. Video is usually 30-45 seconds for each situation otherwise the time to view entries will be too long. This can be combined with community service so that some of the items might include the team raking leaves, helping someone take groceries to their car, etc.
Combination Scavenger Hunts
Combine various types of scavenger hunts together and tailor them to your theme. In this case the list will have situations to video or photograph as well as objects to retrieve, people to find, clues to solve, and facts to discover. Various items will appeal to various personalities so that everyone has fun.
You can get ideas for specific scavenger hunts from http://www.creativeyouthideas.com
Ken has been actively involved in youth ministry for almost 20 years and has been writing youth Bible Study materials since 1988. He has written for numerous Youth weekends and summer camps around the world. He also does training workshops for youth leaders and teachers in Asia and is recommended by others for his creativity and for his passion in mentoring youth.
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