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Scavenger hunt - what do you need to consider?

The scavenger hunt is always a favorite activity for children on camps. You can use it not only as a group activity but just as well for a great birthday game idea. When I was recently asked for a concept I gave this some thought. On this website there are a lot of ideas that could be used as of alternatives.

Very roughly outlined ideas for the scavenger hunt

scavenger hunt in the wood
The scavenger hunt in the wood is always a favorite
activity for children on camps.

  • Classic:

    a team lays a track with clues (chalk arrows, saw meal, little notes). The team has to follow those clues to get to the finishing line or alternatively find a treasure.

  • Geocaching:

    using GPS devices you have to find those clues and follow them to the next destination and to finish that game.

  • Puzzle & Images:

    To get from one station to the next you need to solve tasks. For example, "Go this this building, there you will find the next message!" Solves this crossword, the fields marked will give you the next destination, etc.

  • Compass & mobile:

    The team is equipped with a map and a compass. At intermediate stations there are new objectives. The new goal can only be found, if you make it to the next station. A somewhat harder version would be, if the team receives only messages through the mobile in which direction they have to run. This requires cooperation and communication. In turn, the other team is also only given by the direction of their target.

Instructions and variations

It's a bit boring when the scavenger hunt has no stations and basically nothing is happening, or otherwise there are only tracks to follow. That may be OK for a quick action game for 45-60 minutes where at the end you get your candy treasure. However, this is not suitable if the program has to be designed for 2-4 hours.

  • Therefore, play stations should be implemented. Of course, this requires preparation and effort of staff. On this website you can find plenty of ideas for such stations. Everyone will find something. Quite simply: rifle shooting, sack race, puzzles, spices smelling, quizzes (leaves, wild berries recognize animal tracks, ...)

  • Another idea would be that the team has to collect certain objects: An oak leaf, beechnuts, chestnuts, etc. Or: the team has to stand on a tree trunk and one has to take a photo with the mobile. – Next stand on the tree trunk and rock it.

  • Another idea, implement different adventure stations. This could be: a robbery, stalking to a station etc. However, those games already belong more to the adventure games then to the actual scavenger hunt. As you see, many ideas can be combined.

What to take with you, what to be aware of & tips

  • Depending on the weather/heat/time/terrain take appropriate clothes, drinks and food.

  • Bandages & dressings, cell phone, one accompanying adult per child or youth group

  • Because you have to lay out the game (tracks, stations, etc.,) you need to keep in mind that this will take you more time than the actual hunt. The one putting out the track needs at least a head start of 30 – 60 minutes. If that is not given, it is possible that the team will catch up with the tracker before he can reach the goal. If necessary, the track could be laid out by an adult. Also keep in mind that other people, going for a walk, could blur or even change the track direction.

  • The danger points in the terrain must be known. It can be slippery along a creek. If the terrain is steep and rocky, kids could fall. The attendant needs to be aware of those downfalls and also needs to know and be able to respond to the behaviour of the team.

  • A hidden treasure, a secret message can be found. The proverbial search for a needle in a haystack can lead to frustration, or, respectively, the team gets distracted, lost or does not find the next message or station.

  • Generally, no outdoor game and no scavenger hunt can actually be planned right down to every single detail. Whether the team gets lost, wanders aimlessly, rules are misunderstood - the result is always the same: Even my best plan gets thrown upside down. It needs a flexible person to quickly intervene when things like that happen.

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