Inspiration: Scavenger Hunts

The scavenger hunt is one of the simplest game styles possible. With no more preparation than a list and the phrase “Go find it,” you are set with hours of fun. With a little more planning, you can use this simple game to entertain, to teach, to share exciting things, and even to change your life forever.

When I was a kid, I loved to do these. I remember being at scout camp, and being given a simple list of things to find in the woods. Things as simple as finding an interesting rock, or bug, or leaf. Looking for more specific things, like a type of animal or tree or footprints. It was fun being able to romp through the forest, but what I didn’t realize at the time was that I was also learning orientation and how to identify things in nature.

I also remember making long car drives to visit relatives or friends. There wasn’t much to do on a drive like that in those days, so we found ways to entertain ourselves. Travel bingo was the best. A way to take the scavenger hunt with you, you had to be sharp eyed to catch your objective flashing by and mark your card, and there would be arguments if you were the only one to see it. Later we moved on to another version, where you have to find words that start with a certain letter, working your way through the alphabet A to Z. It would get tense when everyone was on Q, X, or Z with long stretches between letters.

Much later I was introduced to geocaching and letterboxing. I was skeptical at first, but once I grabbed my first clue and found my first cache, I was blown away by the fact that there are these little things hidden around the entire world, in beautiful places, secret nooks, and wide open spaces. The best part was that almost nobody knew about them. I especially liked letterboxing. Those clues tended to be more puzzle based, and there is a sense of community around them as each find comes with a guestbook and stamp. I made my own stamp to put into guestbooks, stamped my own like a passport of my travels, and flipped through the pages of previous visitors.

I proposed to my wife with a scavenger hunt. It was a simple thing, clues hidden around the house with little notes of affection that she started as soon as waking up. It feels cheesy looking back on it, but I wanted to share that part of me. Now we have hunts with our kids, finding Easter eggs, walking through the woods, playing travel bingo. It’s a tradition in our house, and something we do for many occasions.

Although a simple game, the scavenger hunt has endless variety. There’s something about seeking out what is hidden that awakens a spirit of adventure in us, the part of our nature tied to exploring new worlds and making new discoveries. It’s a powerful game, and one that I recommend everyone to enjoy.


Jeremy Hale