Treasure hunts, bug hunts, scavenger hunts… My chequered history with them, hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm. I’m not alone though, as these time-honoured games have entertained for generations. They may seem like a lot of effort to do, but they are an easy activity to do pretty much anywhere.
Entertainment-gold. I’ve previously written about one we did for a pirate party and we’ve enjoyed them at others’ too. All you need is a few clues, some rhyming couplets and a bag of chocolate coins for the treasure. A friend of mine has bravely done them around her house – with the kids stampeding from one clue to the next. It was quite entertaining to watch once we’d got over wincing as they whipped past her breakables.
My experience with these has been less successful. One notable incident was when a friend and I signed up for one in the summer holidays in a local park. Our Ray Mears-like leader was enthusing about the great outdoors and more specifically, the wildlife we could find. He set up a ‘bug hotel’ in a central camp for the children to put the creatures in that they found for later inspection. It all sounded pretty straight-forward.
Unfortunately my friend was wearing Birkenstocks which weren’t ideal for wading through long, wild grass on the look-out for creepy crawlies. It also turns out that I have an irrational fear of anything found under stones which rendered me completely useless. However, since we had prams, babies and toddlers in tow, by the time we had trudged through the undergrowth there was little chance of us finding anything.
When the others in the group had unearthed worms, beetles and other multi-legged discoveries, my friend finally spotted a spider on a large rock just by Ray’s camp. My eldest was standing on the rock at the time (having got bored with all the looking), after she shouted “spider”, he responded with the immortal line “kill it! kill it!”. Ray and his intrepid comrades looked round to see my friend bent-double from laughing, leaving me trying to cover-up my son’s murderous intentions (whilst simultaneously keeping as far away from the spider as I could). It then occurred to me that we were looking for stuff we didn’t want to find, so made a hasty retreat to the café instead.
But even from that slight disaster, I could see the appeal for the kids, so I’ve since found bug hunt charts on the internet to keep them occupied in the garden. The plus-side being that I knew likely hiding spots, as well as the fact that I didn’t have an audience for my inevitable yelps every time we got ‘lucky’. Mind you, I think my boys enjoyed watching me react to the creatures more than seeing the creatures themselves. They laughed their heads off.
My first experience of a Scavenger Hunt was on a hen do and involved clues which took us to a cocktail bar (nice touch that the barman was in on it too). Needless to say I was sold: a treasure-hunt combined with collecting things, what’s not to like? However I had less success when I subsequently adopted the idea for my husband’s birthday. Unfortunately I planned the hunt having never been to the area before and it unsurprisingly resulted in him and his friends being lost for hours. The only redeeming feature was that it ended in a bar which they eventually found.
Scavenger hunts have however been more successful as spontaneous time-fillers for the kids when they’ve complained about not knowing what to do with themselves on holiday. They’ve worked a treat and remain my favourite of all three hunts. Up until now, my kids have had to be paired with adults (i.e. me and my husband), but now they’ve got to reading-age, I’m looking forward to testing it out where the kids do the work.
A list of things to find that have worked well for my guys are below. I have given each team the same list and a little bag to collect their things in. The show-and-tell at the end has raised a few laughs given the different interpretations of what’s on the list!
- Something fuzzy
- Two kinds of seeds
- Something straight
- Something round
- Something smooth
- Something rough
- Two different types of leaves
- Something that makes a noise
- A beautiful rock
- Something you think is beautiful
- A pinecone
- Something green
- A stick
- Something you think is a treasure