Scavenger hunts have been popular since the 1930s and are still going strong today. So why not organise your own?
Read on to find out…
- What a scavenger hunt is
- How to organise one
- Scavenger hunt ideas to get you started
- Tools to help you out
What is a scavenger hunt?
A scavenger hunt is a competition where the participating teams are given a list of often useless items that they need to obtain in order to win.
The participants will often have to solve a series of riddles that give clues to the locations of the items.
It’s different from a treasure hunt because there is no treasure to be found. Instead, all the items on the scavenger hunt list are funny or undesirable.
There are many variations of the traditional scavenger hunt. They are popular among all age groups from small children to college graduates and (real) adults.
How to organise a scavenger hunt in 10 steps
Quite a bit of planning goes into organising a scavenger hunt, especially if it involves a lot of participants and spans over a large geographical area. If you want to get yours off to a solid start, follow these 10 steps.
1. Consider a ticketing platform
If you’re planning a big scavenger hunt for the whole community, you might want to use a ticketing platform where people can register their attendance. This will help you keep track of sign ups and teams.
Tip: Ticketing sites like Billetto are free to use for free events, so you won’t have to break the bank.
2. Scout out locations
The location for the scavenger hunt can be in almost any area. Popular locations include the local neighbourhood, a big city, a nearby forest, or a farm.
3. Plan the route
Once you know the location for the hunt, it’s time to plan the route you want the participants to take. Make sure there are places to hide the items they’ll be looking for.
4. Write the clues
Come up with scavenger hunt clues to help your participants find the items on their list. Feel free to get creative and write riddles, poems, and puzzles that will reveal the locations of the items.
Tip: Tools like Treasure Run help you automatically generate scavenger hunt clues and puzzles to be solved.
5. Recruit confederates
It’s not always possible to hide the clues in a place where they won’t be found by random people. See if you can recruit neighbours to hold on to the clues for when the participants arrive.
6. Distribute the clues
Once you have the clues and know where to hide them (or whom to hide them with), you can start distributing them around the route you want the participants to follow.
7. Create a backup plan
Expect the unexpected. Paper envelopes with clues in them aren’t exactly weatherproof, so seal them in plastic bags and keep some spare copies in case they are stolen or lost.
8. Include small rewards
The participants will be happy to find additional rewards along the way. If your participants are children, you can hide juice or candy…and maybe an ice-box of beer for the adults.
9. Set the rules
Make sure you lay out the rules for the scavenger hunt before the participants set off to find the items. This is a particularly important step if the scavenger hunt is for children.
10. Keep an eye on the teams
Letting kids run off by themselves isn’t always a smart idea, so make sure there’s an adult with them. It might also be smart to send a sober chaperone along with any participating adult teams.
Scavenger hunt ideas
There are too many variations for us to list here, but let’s have a look at some of the many scavenger hunt ideas you can use to organise a hunt for your friends or family.
Each team or participant has to snap a photo of the items on your list.
Same as with a photo scavenger hunt, except with video.
A scavenger hunt that takes place online. Participants have to find items on the web.
Takes place in the city, which gives you many hiding places for the items.
Can take place in a forest, on a beach, or on a farm…just mind the animals.
Design scavenger hunt riddles and clues that lead to items specific to Christmas, like stockings and stars.
The perfect excuse for hiding away all your Easter eggs.
A trick-or-treat themed scavenger hunt, or perhaps a murder mystery?
Let your significant other solve riddles that lead them to you.
A great activity for children’s birthdays that will keep the kids entertained.
Ideal for making everyone complete silly tasks while under the influence.
Possible bar crawl challenges include drinking contests and finding specific graffiti in pub toilets.
A good networking tool that can spice up an otherwise mundane business event.
Scavenger hunt tools
Because scavenger hunts are such a popular competition, there’s a number of apps that provide ready-made clues, routes, and virtual “items” that participants can find and use.
GooseChase is an app that lets you create a new scavenger hunt or pick a theme from the database. You’ll then get a route and clues to send to your participants.
Locandy also offers pre-made scavenger hunts but includes more elaborate adventures where decisions made by the participants influence the flow of the story as well as the ending.
Huntzz has routes and games that are focused on sightseeing. This makes it a great tool for scavenger hunts that take place in a city with lots of attractions for teams to learn about.
Scavify is an app that has a little bit for everyone, whether the participants are students, professionals, or tourists. The app includes puzzles, quizzes, and even QR codes to scan.
Google’s Emoji Scavenger Hunt is a game that uses smartphone cameras to work. Google will let you know which items to look for and the camera will identify if you’ve found the right item.
Geocaching is a more interactive scavenger hunt game that lets you hide items in real “caches” around the world for others to find. When you find an item, you can replace it with your own.
Get the map out
Hopefully, you now have all the scavenger hunt ideas you need to put together a serious challenge for the participants.
Pick a theme that goes with your event and make sure to document all the best moments for later.