What is a Scavenger Hunt?

A scavenger hunt is a fun and exciting game that involves somebody who organizes a list that contains certain items. These items are placed in various undisclosed locations. Players, either individuals or teams have to go out to search for the items on the list. The first person or team to collect all of the items on the list wins the game. Instead of items, you could also have the players perform tasks instead.

Scavenger Hunt items can be anything you can come up with. If you are creating the game around a theme then items related to the theme can be used, for example, a pirate kids party. You could get chocolate coins or specifically related toys, like a plastic sword for the participants to look for. The game can also involve rules you need to follow, for example, instead of looking for a physical item you have to take a photo.

When looking up the definition of a scavenger hunt and a treasure hunt, it seems there is a bit of a difference. The treasure hunt involves items that are at least worth something and are appealing to the players. The scavenger hunt, on the other hand, uses random items that have little or no value. Prizes given to the winners can be as wacky as the items you were looking for or anything from movie tickets to vouchers, anything you can come up with.

In this modern age you can also have fun scavenger hunts online. Internet scavenger hunts are also a popular game where players get to visit different websites, solve clues or puzzles and whoever wins sometimes gets a prize. Some companies even use a scavenger hunt as a marketing strategy to involve their audience and in this way expose their product or service to the public in a fun and engaging way.

Scavenger type games have become a global trend, the term used for this is, geocaching. Players use their GPS (General Positioning System) or other navigating methods to hide or to seek out containers around the world. These containers usually have a logbook inside and are known as geocaches. Once a player has found the container, they can write in the log book and place this back into the container. There are websites online where you can sign up for this type of exciting hunt and you are able to share your experiences with others online. There are many geocaches around the world as well as in Cape Town itself.

Start off with a simple fun scavenger hunt; get a few of your friends and family together set up a list. Make it easy with simple items to find or decide on a more interesting way where the players have to perform tasks instead. The location of your scavenger hunt can be in your back yard to your neighbourhood or even the local shopping centre. This is a great activity to get everybody up and moving, instead of just sitting in front of the television.

Putting together a Scavenger Hunt

Putting together a Scavenger Hunt

Writing scavenger hunt clues can be fun, but it should be written in a way that everybody can decipher the clues and find the items. Making it too difficult will cause the players to lose interest and making it too easy can cause the game to be over too soon. First things first, deciding on a theme, it can be anything from connecting the theme with holidays like Christmas to a kids birthday party that has a princess theme. The theme can also just be random as long as it is fun and interesting.

There are various types of Scavenger hunts from just finding an item to taking photos, completing tasks or even a combination.

Item scavenger hunt:

This is the easiest and simplest; collect as many hidden items on the list. The winner is the player with the most items collected.

Photos:

Players have to take photos of as many items on a list as possible. With digital cameras or phones today, this is very easy to do.

Tasks:

Instead of locating items, each player has to perform a task, a photo or video has to be taken as proof of the task being performed and completed.

Next step to putting together a scavenger hunt is finding a location. This can be indoors or outside depending on the number of players. You can even take the scavenger hunt out into the surrounding neighborhood and if you really wish to make things interesting, into public places like a shopping mall or your local church.

Make up your list and print it out to give to the participants of the game. To make the game more competitive you can add in some bonus tasks that can get players more points. Instead of scoring the players on only completing the task, give the points to the players that are the most original or creative.

A very simple example of a list for nature or outdoor scavenger hunt:

  • An Acorn
  • Two different kinds of leaves
  • Wildflower
  • Funny shaped rock
  • A birds nest
  • Feather…

Setting a time limit on the scavenger hunt is a good idea so that it does not carry on for too long. Give a set time for each task and if necessary penalize players who spend longer on a task with taking off a point. This helps to prevent cheating, everybody should spend the same amount of time performing their task or finding the item.

If you are really serious, you could set up some rules. This can be helpful especially if you are going to cover a larger area in the neighborhood or are planning it in a public area. For instance, you can let them know where to go and not to go.

When the time up gets everybody together and tally up the points to see who won the scavenger hunt. Remember to add in any bonus points if you added extra tasks. Providing a prize at the end of the scavenger hunt is not necessary, but is recommended. Kids especially would be very disappointed if there was no prize at the end of all their hard work.

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