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Ready, Set, Scavenge!


By Telly Scotchmeyer for Your Family Today

What game involves speed, daring, teamwork and eagle-eye vision? It’s an old classic: the scavenger hunt! Technology has created new versions of the game, including the worldwide treasure hunt geocaching. But for low-cost, kid-friendly fun, nothing compares to the original.

Get organized Start by dividing your gang into two teams. Each team receives a clue collection bag containing hunt instructions, a challenge sheet and various supplies. Teams also need a camera — digital, Polaroid or phone — to document their finds. Each team manages its own hunt, deciding in what order to complete the challenges and how to logistically handle the game. The goal is to complete as many challenges as possible in whatever time you’ve allotted for the hunt.

Choose your challenges The success of the game will depend largely on the challenges you devise … so plan wisely! The difficulty of your challenges should depend on the age of your players and the environment of the hunt. For example, challenges in town can range from taking a photograph of one of your teammates posing with a police officer to collecting five custom matchbooks from local restaurants. If you’re planning a hunt in a more rural setting, consider nature challenges, like taking a photograph of a particular kind of tree, digging up a mushroom and bringing it back in your bag, or building a miniature teepee out of twigs in the woods and taking a picture of your whole team posing next to it.

Tally up When time is up, everyone convenes at a designated place to tally up the results. Make sure you’re on time. Photos serve as evidence of what you’ve done. Teams should be penalized for tardiness, awarded points for tasks completed and given a bonus for an inspired or funny account of their adventure. Remember, not every challenge needs to earn its team the same number of points. Some can be weighted for difficulty, courage or creativity.

Plan a rematch with a different theme Scavenger hunts don’t have to involve nature … and they don’t have to be held outdoors. Here are some alternative ideas:

  • Web hunts Each team logs on to search for designated photos, facts, quotes, etc. This one can be done long-distance.
  • Home hunts Teams split up to search for small household items, such as paper clips, take-out menus, rubber bands, missing socks, etc. Each team can search a different house and meet up in the end with their finds.
  • Video hunts Each team sets out with a video camera to film everything on the list, including the challenges.
  • Graveyard hunts Teams go in search of certain types of tombstones — the oldest stone, the youngest to die, etc.
  • People hunts There’s no end to this one: Find someone wearing a striped shirt, someone who looks like their dog, someone who’ll recite O Canada or hop up and down on one foot, etc.
  • Creative challenges Teams compete in cook-offs, name that tune, craft projects, etc.

Wherever and however you do it, a scavenger hunt can provide hours of fun and real collaboration between teammates, young and old. And don’t forget, it’s the thrill of the hunt, not who’s won and lost that counts the most. After the game, make a date for a rematch and go out for pizza to celebrate.

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