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How To Plan A Scavenger Hunt: A Fun Adult Game To Play Outdoors (Or Indoors)

Two of my favorite outdoor games that are generally considered adult party games, group activities, and sometimes even team-building exercises are:

  • Scavenger Hunts – completing tasks or collecting items on a list
  • Geocaching – looking for hidden treasures near where you live

They’re travel games… with a twist!

Both games dictate precisely where you’re going (in a vehicle) and what you’re looking for when you get there, as opposed to typical travel games that you play quietly in the car while you’re driving toward your destination.

With these games, it’s not about killing time. The goal instead is to find unique items or to complete certain tasks within the shortest amount of time. The use of your car is to help you get to each of the items faster, or to tasks that are spread out all over town.

I’ve talked about geocaching and similar outdoor adventures quite a bit already.

So today I’ll concentrate on some fun ideas for planning a scavenger hunt…

Scavenger Hunts 101

How To Play

These are the general scavenger hunt rules:

Scavenger Hunt Rules

A great example of a local treasure hunt game is this Random Acts of Kindness scavenger hunt.

Some of the rules on the RAK list include:

  • Buy a bouquet and deliver it to someone in the hospital
  • Help people unload their carts at the grocery check-out counter
  • Give a candy bar to a security guard on duty
  • Play with someone’s dog

This video shows a church group participating in a similar Random Acts of Kindness scavenger hunt. (Watch the screen closely to see the specific items they were looking for.)

Here are a few other rules for a Random Act of Kindness scavenger hunt:

  • Take a picture of someone on your team helping someone at a nearby gas station by washing their windows for them.
  • Get a photo with a greeter at Walmart.
  • Pose by a coin-operated washing machine.
  • Climb into a grocery cart and go for a spin in the frozen food aisle while a fellow team member snaps your picture.
  • Bring back a car wash token.
  • Bring back an old calendar of a certain year.
  • Bring back a penny with a date that falls within a specific range.

I’m sure you can think of dozens more fun things that exemplify being kind and helpful in the local community if you decide to have a Random Acts of Kindness scavenger hunt!

I organized a fun car rally/scavenger hunt for the staff at work. I concentrated on the hunters gathering information rather than things, so as not to disrupt the activities in stores and other businesses. Scavengers were asked to get dates from a building cornerstone and a gravestone, an inscription from a building lintel and a gravestone, to count the number of seats in a restaurant and the number of overhead light standards on a bridge, to identify historic community landmarks, etc.

— The Dollar Stretcher

How To Plan A Scavenger Hunt

Setting up a scavenger hunt can be just as much fun as participating in one!

Here are some areas to focus on when you plan a scavenger hunt:

  • If your treasure hunt happens to take place on or near a major holiday, then you may want to theme the items on your list to match that holiday.
  • You might want to plan your scavenger hunt so a car isn’t necessary. In that case, items on the treasure hunt list would include things found in the backyard, in the neighborhood, or some other pre-determined area with clear boundaries.
  • Print out a very basic list of scavenger hunt rules that players must follow (travel distances/boundaries, specific tasks/items to be completed, any clues you want to provide).
  • Or, instead of one organizer giving all teams the same list, each team makes up a short list and gives copies to all the other teams.
  • Determine how many “points” each completed task earns the team.
  • Set an exact start time and a definite stop time.
  • Have prizes on hand for the team(s) that completed the most tasks. (Some ideas: gift certificates, novelty gifts, money. If you charge a small amount to play, the money can go into a pool to cover the prizes.)

As for the invitations…

You can mail out themed invitations, stating right on them that you’re planning a scavenger hunt. This will alert your guests to dress appropriately for the weather, wear comfortable shoes, and have adequate fuel in their vehicle if they’ll need transportation. You can add a little mystery to the event by telling them how to prepare but not discussing the details of the game. 

— Party How

More Fun Scavenger Hunt Ideas